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International regulations presided over by the World Health Organization and agreed to by countries such as Canada are biased toward keeping borders open and travel flowing, even in a pandemic, and must be overhauled, an expert panel said. Helen Clark, the former prime minister of New Zealand who is leading an independent panel of doctors and former heads of state examining the global response to COVID-19, said international rules that frown upon travel restrictions helped make the pandemic worse around the world. “I think one of the problems is that the International Health Regulations appear to explicitly discourage what they call ‘unnecessary restrictions on travel,’” Ms. Clark said Wednesday following the release of the panel’s report, which was commissioned by the WHO. “All I can say is that I’m living in my own country in New Zealand, where closing the borders was absolutely essential to getting a successful response,” Ms. Clark said. “We have to bear in mind that with a highly infectious pathogen like this, we’re living in the 21st century where it can be on the next flight. We’re not living in medieval times where it travelled on foot and by donkey.”

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