South Africa pleads to the world to not punish the country for detecting Omicron variant

South Africa pleads to the world to not punish the country for detecting Omicron variant | Secret Flying

South Africa urges countries to reconsider travel bans.


South African President Cyril Ramaphosa on Sunday called on countries to “urgently” reverse “scientifically unjustified” travel bansΒ because of a new strain of Covid-19.


The Omicron variant, which was first detected by South African scientists last week, has been classed as a “variant of concern,” with early analysis showing it hasΒ a higher re-infection risk compared to other variants.


It is responsible for most of the infections found in South Africa’s most populated province, Gauteng, over the last two weeks, and the number of cases “appears to be increasing in almost all provinces” in the country, according to the World Health Organisation.


Within days of the find, dozens of countries blacklisted passengers from South Africa and its neighbours, including the United Kingdom,Β Japan, Israel and the European Union.


However, South Africa has hit back at the travel bans, claiming the country is being punished for the great scientific work it carried out in finding the new variant.


“We call upon all those countries that have imposed travel bans on our country and our southern African sister countries to immediately and urgently reverse their decisions,” President Cyril Ramaphosa said in his first address to the nation following the detection ofΒ Omicron.


“The prohibition of travel is not informed by science. The only thing the prohibition on travel will do is to further damage the economies of the affected countries and undermine their ability to respond to, and recover from, the pandemic.


“These restrictions are unjustified and unfairly discriminate against our country and our southern African sister countries,” he added.


The WHO in Africa echoed Ramaphosa’s plea, urging countries to follow the science, rather than imposing flight bans.


“With the Omicron variant now detected in several regions of the world, putting in place travel bans that target Africa attacks global solidarity,” said WHO regional director general Matshidiso Moeti.


“Travel restrictions may play a role in slightly reducing the spread of COVID-19, but place a heavy burden on lives and livelihoods.”


Despite the rapidly imposed travel bans,Β Omicron has now been detected in a number of countries around the world, including the UK, the Netherlands, Germany, Australia and Israel.


South Africa’s economy has suffered immensely from the pandemic, reflected by a more than 34% unemployment rate.


As the country enters into its warm summer months, locals were hoping for an economic resurgence with tourism playing a key role in kickstarting the economy.


However, with more and more countries placing South Africa on a travel ban list, those hopes seem to be dashed.