South Africa President 'Deeply Disappointed' By Travel Ban Imposed Against Country Amid New COVID-19 Variant
Cyril Ramaphosa sees latest travel bans to South Africa as possible economic downfall.
November 30, 2021 at 5:28 pm
South Africa’s president, Cyril Ramaphosa, has verbalized his disapproval of travel bans enforced against the country amid the detection of the Omicron variant of COVID-19. The president said he was "deeply disappointed" by the call to action and is now campaigning to have the bans lifted immediately.
Britain, the European Union, Canada and the United States have imposed travel bans against Southern Africa, according to CNN. The U.S. has now restricted travel from eight African countries. Canadian officials announced on Sunday that the variant has reached North America, with two cases appearing in Ontario, NBC News reports.
The Omicron variant was first monitored in South Africa and was later announced to the World Health Organization on Wednesday.
The latest variant has been the cause of new infection cases in South Africa’s populated province of Gauteng, the BBC reports.
A representative from the WHO, Matshidiso Moeti, echoed Ramaphosa’s belief that travel bans shouldn’t be imposed.
“With the Omicron variant now detected in several regions of the world, putting in place travel bans that target Africa attacks global solidarity,” Moeti said, according to the BBC.
“COVID-19 constantly exploits our divisions. We will only get the better of the virus if we work together for solutions,” he added.
The daily average of new cases in South Africa was previously around 500, but the country revealed that there were 2,800 new infections on Sunday.
Ramaphosa said he is also concerned about the well being of the country's citizens and how the ban will affect the province's wealth.
“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 said in a speech on Sunday, according to the BBC.
Rwanda and Angola, African states, have also restricted flights to and from South Africa.
Regulations have been mandated in South Africa, with face coverings being strictly enforced in public. Indoor gatherings are not to exceed 750, and only up to a 2,000-patron occupancy is permitted for outdoor events.
“We know enough about the variant to know what we need to do to reduce transmission and to protect ourselves against severe disease and death,” Ramaphosa said, according to The New York Times. “The first, the most powerful, tool we have is vaccination.”