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South Africa disappointed at the EU over travel ban

South Africa's President Cyril Ramaphosa addresses the 73rd session of the United Nations General Assembly Tuesday, Sept. 25, 2018, at the United Nations headquarters.   -  
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Frank Franklin II/Copyright 2018 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. -

South Africa

South African President Cyril Ramaphosa has expressed disappointment at the European Union over the recent travel ban instituted against southern African countries.

The president described as unjustified the travel ban which has been linked to the discovery of the new highly-mutated coronavirus variant Omicron.

President Ramaphosa says the outbreak of the Omicron variant should be a wake-up call to the world that vaccine inequality cannot be allowed to continue.

"We are deeply disappointed by the decision of several countries to prohibit travel from a number of Southern African countries including our own.

Instead of prohibiting travel, the rich countries of the world need to support the efforts of developing countries - economies that is - to access and to manufacture enough vaccine doses for their people without delay." Cyril Ramaphosa, President of South Africa stated.

Botswana's Minister of Health, Dr Edwin Dikoli, believes there are much better ways of handling this issue rather than using it a means to stigmatize against southern African countries.

"We were concerned that there seemed to have been attempts to stigmatize the variant and the country where it was detected. Detection in this case was treated as origination, which again should not be an issue, even if the variant will have originated in Botswana. The issue should be the presence of the disease, which would then call for all to do whatever is possible to avoid its transmission.

At Hatfield province, 90 percent of new cases of the Omicron variant has been detected. The new variant is believed to be behind the explosion of infections. Only 24.1% of South Africans have been vaccinated.

Some youth are worried about the new variant "I take public transport and every time I am afraid."

"We don`t really know what to expect. The fear is that the epidemic will start again and the virus will be even stronger."

European member states agreed on Friday to temporarily suspend travel from southern African nations over the outbreak of a new coronavirus variant.

Countries affected by the ban comprise South Africa, Namibia, Lesotho, Botswana, Eswatini and Zimbabwe.

The European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control said there is a "high to very high" risk the new variant will spread in Europe.

The World Health Organization on Sunday urged countries around the world not to impose flight bans on southern African nations due to concerns over the new omicron variant.

WHO's regional director for Africa, Matshidiso Moeti, called on countries to follow science and international health regulations in order to avoid using travel restrictions.

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