In a statement, Mr Walsh urged governments to listen to the advice of experts, including the World Health Organization, that advise against travel restrictions.
“Research undertaken around the arrival of the Omicron variant concluded that putting barriers in the way of travel made no difference to the peak spread of infections. At most, restrictions delayed that peak by a few days. If a new variant emerges in any part of the world, the same situation would be expected,” he said.
“We have the tools to manage COVID-19 without resorting to ineffective measures that cut off international connectivity, damage economies and destroy jobs. Governments must base their decisions on ‘science facts’ rather than ‘science politics’.”
China on Tuesday called the mounting international restrictions on travellers from its territory “unacceptable”.
“This lacks scientific basis and some practices are unacceptable,” foreign ministry spokesperson Mao Ning told a regular briefing, warning China could “take countermeasures based on the principle of reciprocity”.
The United States replied that it had taken action in response to the “lack of adequate and transparent” data from China and concerns that the heavy caseload could result in new variants.