The World Health Organization (WHO) urged countries not to impose travel restrictions on African nations simply because the new omicron variant was discovered in South Africa.
Recently many countries, including the United States, banned flights from eight Southern African nations to stop the omicron variant outbreak.
Developed nations did not act on science by imposing travel bans
Matshidiso Moeti, WHO’s regional director Africa, said the countries which are relying on a travel ban to stop the virus should follow science and health regulations in order to make their policies rational.
Moeti noted travel restrictions should not be invasive or intrusive, adding that it puts burdens on people’s livelihoods. Likewise, she noted any potential restriction should be based on International Health Regulations, a part of the international law widely recognized by more than 190 countries.
Unless our doctors, nurses and other frontline workers get full protection we risk a blowback in the efforts to curb this disease. pic.twitter.com/PEC2L4bure
— Dr Matshidiso Moeti (@MoetiTshidi) November 25, 2021
She also expressed the firm resolve of the WHO to stand by African nations in these times, noting that sharing critical information will help the world take measures to stop any further outbreaks.
Meanwhile, Cyril Ramaphosa, the South African President, also labeled the new restrictions “unjustified.” He noted these sorts of bans are not scientifically motivated, and they impact the economies of already vulnerable nations.
The director of the National Institutes of Health in the U.S., Dr. Francis Collins, said there is no evidence the omicron strain is more dangerous than other variants.
Global ban on African nations sparked criticism of pushing the third world country back
Similarly, the world’s assertiveness in imposing travel bans only against African nations also received significant criticism from global watchdogs.
Moeti said while the omicron cases have been detected in various parts of the world, restrictions against African nations only will diminish global solidarity. The South African foreign ministry said “excellent science” should not be punished, but applauded.
Likewise, the ministry also added this punishment is like scrutinizing the African nation for its genomic sequencing capabilities; this will only discourage other countries from reporting any new COVID variant.
Similarly, the foreign ministry of South Africa noted had the virus been reported from any other country, the reaction of the world would have been different.
The African Union also criticized the developed nations for not distributing the vaccines equitably, which encouraged new variants to surface in African countries.
Despite the fact Biden called Trump’s COVID travel bans xenophobic, he himself led the world in announcing the flight restrictions against the African nation as the omicron variant made headlines.
We are in the midst of a crisis with the coronavirus. We need to lead the way with science — not Donald Trump’s record of hysteria, xenophobia, and fear-mongering. He is the worst possible person to lead our country through a global health emergency.
— Joe Biden (@JoeBiden) February 1, 2020
When former President Trump imposed a travel ban on China, Biden tweeted the administration should make its decisions based on science and not the hysteria of fear-mongering xenophobia.
However, later on, Biden pushed back on his comments, saying his remarks about xenophobia were in the generic sense and not specifically directed toward travel bans.