MINISTERS of Finance along with Trade and Industry from Lesotho, Botswana, Eswatini and the Republic of South Africa (RSA) have expressed their concern and regret on the travel ban and restrictions imposed by several international countries against travellers from the four southern African countries due to the discovery of Omicron COVID-19 variant last month.
Dec. 13, 2021
3 min read
Ministers vexed by international travel ban
The Minister of Finance, Thabo Sophonea
- Council believes ban on the region is unfair, irrational and unscientific
- International countries ban travel from four southern Africa countries after discovery of Omicron COVID-19 variant
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This emerged during a weekend virtual meeting which was held by the ministers in order to address the matter.
In a statement released by the Southern African Customs Union (SACU), the ministers said they believe that the ban on the region is unfair, irrational, unscientific and will negatively impact transparency in the sharing of information relating to COVID-19 in the future, adding that they believe it is an act of punishment for openness, transparency and that it discourages high quality scientific practices.
The ministers showed that the ban will also impact negatively on economies in the region, while undermining the recovery efforts.
They content that it will further increase poverty and hunger as the ban is particularly a crushing blow to the tourism industry and for the many lives and livelihoods that depend on it.
In the same statement, the ministers therefore urged the World Trade Organisation (WTO) to expedite the decision on the trips waiver that enables its member states to produce vaccines, therapeutics and diagnostics to mitigate the effects of the pandemic and support the discovery of the new variant.
Meanwhile, the council of ministers further commended and welcomed the start of Jonson and Johnson vaccination production in the RSA, adding that would enable the continent to have access to the COVID-19 vaccines.
It further implored the world community to work together to develop a coordinated global response to the pandemic in order to respond effectively by ensuring equitable access to vaccines with adequate tracing and vaccine manufacturing capabilities.
The European countries and other international countries imposed a travel ban of travellers from the four southern African countries in November following the outbreak of the new COVID-19 variant Omicron, which was discovered in Botswana.
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As per the World Health Organisation (WHO), the new Omicron coronavirus strain already found in 63 countries worldwide will surpass Delta in spreading speed.
“As of December 9, 2021, cases of human infections with this variant have been identified in 63 countries across all six WHO regions,” reads the overview by the WHO, reported Sputnik.
It is not clear yet, why the new strain is spreading so fast, the organisation added.
“However, given the current available data, it is likely that Omicron will outpace the Delta variant where community transmission occurs,” the document said. LeNA