business

Dec. 14, 2021

NEO SENOKO

2 min read

SACU laments travel ban on member states

SACU laments travel ban on member states

SACU Executive Secretary, Paulina Mbala Elago

Story highlights

  • The decision came following the detection of the Omicron Covid-19 variant
  • Body says ban is unfair, irrational and will impact transparency in sharing of Covid-19 related information

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THE Southern African Customs Union (SACU), a customs union among five countries of southern Africa including Lesotho, Botswana, Eswatini, Namibia and South African has lamented the decision by several European countries to impose travel bans on its members, saying it will have malevolent repercussions on the region.

The body says the ban is unfair, irrational, unscientific and will impact transparency in the sharing of information relating to Covid-19 in the future.

The decision came following the detection of the Omicron Covid-19 variant.

SACU has expressed concerns that the decision is an act against and punishment for openness, transparency and discourages high quality scientific practices.

The travel ban will further impact negatively on the economies of the region, undermine the recovery efforts and further increase poverty and hunger amongst people.

“The ban is particularly a crushing blow to our tourism industry and for the many lives and livelihoods that depend on it,” SACU revealed during its virtual meeting recently.

The new coronavirus variant was first detected in South Africa and has caused global alarm resulting in many European Union (EU) states resolving to suspend travel from southern Africa. These countries have also been urged to discourage travel to those countries.

SACU has therefore called upon the World Trade Organisation (WTO), an intergovernmental organisation that regulates and facilitates international trade between nations to expedite the decision on the Agreement on Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (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 variants.

In July this year, WTO members agreed to continue consideration of the proposal for a temporary waiver of certain TRIPS obligations in response to Covid-19 and other related proposals.

“Finally we wish to implore 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,” SACU added.

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As per the World Health Organisation (WHO), a specialised agency of the United Nations responsible for international public health 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 WHO.

It is not clear yet, why the new strain is spreading so fast, the health body adds.

“However, given the current available data, it is likely that Omicron will outpace the Delta variant where community transmission occurs,” the report further shows.  

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