| 13 April 2024, Saturday |

South Africa’s President calls for urgent reversal of travel bans over Omicron

South African President Cyril Ramaphosa called on nations to “urgently” lift “scientifically unjustifiable” travel prohibitions related to the discovery of the novel highly mutated coronavirus strain Omicron on Sunday.

“We call on all nations that have put travel bans on our country and our southern African sister countries to quickly and promptly rescind their choices,” he said in his first speech to the nation since the new variety was discovered last week.

Since South African scientists raised the alarm about Omicron last week, dozens of nations have banned South Africa and its neighbors.

“The limitation on travel is not based on science,” Ramaphosa stated.

“The only thing the travel ban will accomplish is harm the economy of the afflicted nations and weaken their capacity to respond to and recover from the pandemic,” he added.

“These limitations are unreasonable and unfairly discriminate against our nation and our sister countries in southern Africa.”

Although the World Health Organization has classified Omicron as a potentially dangerous strain, experts are currently studying its virulence.

The vaccine, according to Ramaphosa, is the “most potent instrument” for limiting its spread, and he urged South Africans to be vaccinated.

In order to promote uptake, he claimed the government was contemplating making vaccinations mandatory for particular activities and venues.

Due to a tardy start to the vaccination campaign and considerable skepticism, just over 35% of people in South Africa have been completely immunized.

The country has been the most struck by the virus in Africa, with around 2.9 million infections and 89,797 fatalities documented to date.

Omicron is thought to be fuelling an increase in infections, with 1,600 new cases reported on average over the last seven days, up from 500 the previous week.

  • AFP