South African president decries travel ban amid omicron scare
- South African president Cyril Ramaphosa criticised travel bans imposed on the country
- The omicron variant was first detected in South Africa
- Several countries have imposed travel cubs on South African nationals
South African President Cyril Ramaphosa Monday decried the travel bans being imposed upon South Africans following the detection of the omicron variant. The omicron variant, first detected in South Africa, has now spread to several countries across the world. The variant is said to be highly-mutative in character and the World Health Organization (WHO) has identified it as a “variant of concern”. Initial evidence suggests the virus has a high re-infection risk.
Describing the travel curbs as unjustified, Cyril Ramaphosa said that he was deeply disappointed by the action and called upon the bans to be urgently lifted. The United States, the United Kingdom and the European Union have imposed curbs on travel on people coming from “at-risk countries”.
Initially called the B.1.1529, the omicron variant was detected in South Africa last month in the Gauteng province, the most populated province. Most of the cases in South Africa are now of the omicron variant.
The World Health Organization (WHO) has also warned countries against imposing travel curbs, The health body said countries should use a “risk-based and scientific approach”.
Matshidisho Moeti, WHO’s Africa director, said Sunday, “With the omicron variant now detected in several regions of the world, putting in place travel bans that target Africa attacks global solidarity.”
According to Ramaphosa, the only thing the travel ban will do is to further damage the economies of the affected countries and undermine their ability to respond to and recover from the pandemic.
Cyril Ramaphosa further appealed to South Africans to get vaccinated adding that there are no vaccine shortages in South Africa. The South African foreign ministry strongly criticised the travel bans, saying the country was being punished instead of being applauded for discovering omicron.
Thirteen people tested positive for omicron in the Netherlands. Israel banned all foreigners from the country for 14 days from midnight Sunday.