The country’s President Cyril Ramaphosa has called on states to “urgently” reverse “scientifically unjustified” travel bans linked to a new COVID-19 variant dubbed omicron.
“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,” Ramaphosa said in his first remarks since announcement of discovery of omicron. “The prohibition of travel is not informed by science,” he added.
“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,” he noted. “These restrictions are unjustified and unfairly discriminate against our country and our southern African sister countries.”
Dozens of countries rushed on Friday to impose new restrictions, banning travelers from number of African states from entering their borders, fearing that new variant will spark more outbreaks. The “variant of concern” as it was named by the World Health Organization (WHO) is reportedly more transmissible and more dangerous than other strains. The African Center for Infectious Diseases (Africa CDC) meanwhile has said that it opposes travel bans, which it said had not significantly improved the situation. And the WHO has called for restraint when it comes to travel restrictions.Indonesia has banned entry to foreigners traveling from 11 African countries – South Africa, Botswana, Namibia, Zimbabwe, Lesotho, Mozambique, Eswatini, Malawi, Angola, Zambia and Nigeria – and Hong Kong. All international arrivals will also have to quarantine for seven days, up from three.
Australia has imposed a similar entry ban for non-citizens arriving from southern Africa. The health authorities there also confirmed the presence of two cases of the omicron strain on Sunday.