The Omicron variant first named as B.1.1.529 had the world at panic and resorting to banning travels from South and neighboring African countries.
The countries that prohibited travel from SA include the UK, USA, Canada, Japan, and Brazil among others.
The variant was first detected in Botswana then discovered and examined properly in South Africa. The variant later had cases in Hong Kong, Belgium, Denmark and other countries overseas.
The President of South Africa Cyril Ramaphosa mentioned in his national address that according to South African scientists, the Omicron variant is able to mutate more than the previous variant which was called Delta variant, it has been discovered through the Covid-19 test that have been run and from Gauteng. It has spread to other provinces. Scientists are not certain if the variant is more easily transmitted between people or if the vaccines will be effective on the Omicron variant.
In his national address Ramaphosa stated that he was disappointed in the countries that prohibited travels from South Africa. He also mentioned that the same countries had held a meeting in Rome and made a commitment to support tourism in developing countries. The President found their ban as an unjustified act that “discriminates our country and its capabilities of responding to the variant”.
Ramaphosa pleaded with the countries that imposed the bans to lift them with immediate effect. According South African government statistics, tourism is the key driver that contributes to the GDP as it also helps with job creation so by shutting the door on South Africa that damages the economy.
A day after the President’s speech the World Health Organization (WHO) made a statement on Twitter saying that “South Africa and Botswana should be thanked for detecting, sequencing and reporting the variant, not penalized”, giving hope that the countries that turned their backs on South Africa and Botswana will lift their ban.
“Rich countries need to support the efforts of developing countries”, Ramaphosa said.
By Lineo Khabele for African View News
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