The president of South Africa has criticised travel prohibitions imposed on his country and its neighbours as a result of the novel coronavirus variant Omicron.
Cyril Ramaphosa expressed his disappointment with the decision, which he termed unwarranted, and demanded that the prohibitions be lifted immediately. The United Kingdom, the European Union, and the United States are among the countries that have enforced travel bans.
Omicron is considered a variant of concern. According to preliminary findings, it appears to have a higher chance of re-infection.
The severely modified form was discovered earlier this month in South Africa and notified to the World Health Organization (WHO) on Wednesday. The variant is responsible for the majority of illnesses discovered in Gauteng, South Africa’s most populous province, over the last two weeks, and has now spread to all other provinces.
On Monday, Japan became the latest country to reintroduce tight border controls, preventing all foreigners from entering the country from November 30.
The WHO has warned against governments imposing travel restrictions quickly, advising them to use a risk-based and scientific approach. However, due to worries about the variation, a slew of bans have been imposed in recent days.
The WHO Africa head, Mr. Matshidiso Ramaphosa, stated in his speech on Sunday that the travel bans had no scientific basis and that southern Africa had been unfairly discriminated against.
He also said that the bans would be ineffective in stopping the variant’s spread.
Mr Ramaphosa hailed the Omicron variant’s appearance as a global wake-up call about vaccination disparity, warning that until everyone was immunised, other variants would emerge.
In South Africa, there are no vaccine shortages, and Mr Ramaphosa urged more people to get vaccinated, saying it was still the best approach to combat the illness.
On Saturday, the South African foreign ministry issued a statement vehemently condemning the travel prohibitions, claiming that the country was being punished rather than praised for discovering Omicron. Omicron has now been discovered in many nations, including the United Kingdom, Germany, Australia, and Israel.