Hwaseong, South Korea – The rush by Asia-Pacific countries to slam borders shut in response to the Omicron variant has raised a sobering question: What if harsh restrictions like travel bans never truly end?

Scientists widely agree the coronovirus will keep mutating indefinitely, with new variants emerging periodically for the rest of our lives.

For Asia-Pacific countries that have retreated into isolation despite high vaccine coverage, that raises the prospect of a never ending cycle of economically and socially damaging restrictions on travel and daily life — unless authorities shift their thinking and learn to live with the virus.

A range of experts spanning virology, epidemiology, medical ethics and economics told Al Jazeera the “end” of the pandemic as far as it affected most people’s lives

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