SOUTH AFRICA: The World Health Organization on Sunday urged countries around the world not to impose flight bans on southern African nations due to concerns over the new Omicron variant.
WHO’s Regional Director for Africa Matshidiso Moeti called on countries to follow science and international health regulations in order to avoid using travel restrictions.
“Travel restrictions may play a role in slightly reducing the spread of COVID-19 but place a heavy burden on lives and livelihoods,” Moeti said in a statement. “If restrictions are implemented, they should not be unnecessarily invasive or intrusive, and should be scientifically based, according to the International Health Regulations, which is a legally binding instrument of international law recognized by over 190 nations.” Cases of the Omicron variant of the coronavirus popped up in countries on opposite sides of the world Sunday and many governments rushed to close their borders even as scientists cautioned that it’s not clear if the new variant is more alarming than other versions of the virus.
Meanwhile, South Africa will remain on the lowest ‘Level One’ of its five-level lockdown strategy to fight the COVID-19 pandemic despite the global panic around the detection of the Omicron variant in the country, South African President Cyril Ramaphosa announced on Sunday.
Ramaphosa also called on more than 20 countries that have imposed travel bans to and from South Africa and its neighbours to immediately end the ban to avoid further harm to the economies of these countries, which have already been battered by the pandemic.
“In taking the decision not to impose further restrictions at this stage, we considered the fact that when we encountered previous waves of infection, vaccines were not widely available and far fewer people were vaccinated,” Ramaphosa said in a national broadcast.
Commenting on the travel ban, President Ramaphosa called for an immediate reversal of the ban.
– JAPAN TODAY, THE HINDU