S Africa president calls for lifting of ‘Omicron’ travel bans

TEHRAN, Nov. 29 (MNA) – South African President Cyril Ramaphosa has called on countries to “urgently” reverse “scientifically unjustified” travel restrictions linked to the discovery of a new variant of coronavirus, COVID-19, in this country.

His comments came on Sunday as the highly mutated variant – dubbed “Omicron” – continued spreading around the world, with new cases identified in the Netherlands, Denmark and Australia.

Dozens of countries have blacklisted South Africa and its neighbors since South African scientists this week flagged the new variant. The World Health Organization (WHO) has designated Omicron a “variant of concern” that is potentially more contagious than previous variants, Al-Jazeera reported.

“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 address to the nation since the detection 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 added.

“These restrictions are unjustified and unfairly discriminate against our country and our southern African sister countries.”

MA/PR

News Code 181219

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