South African President Cyril Ramaphosa Urges Countries to Lift Omicron Travel Bans

South African President Cyril Ramaphosa urged several countries on Nov. 28 to lift their travel bans following the detection of the Omicron variant in southern Africa.

In a speech, Ramaphosa said he was “deeply disappointed” by some countries for their closure of borders due to concerns on the spread of the newly identified variant.

“These restrictions are unjustified and unfairly discriminate against our country and our Southern African sister countries,” Ramaphosa said.

Ramaphosa called the travel ban “a clear and completely unjustified departure from the commitment” made at the G20 Summit in Rome last month.

Ramaphosa further said that the travel ban was “not informed by science” and will not be effective in preventing the spread of the variant.

“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,” Ramaphosa said.

Ramaphosa also called on the rich countries to support efforts promoting access and manufacture of vaccine doses in developing economies “instead of prohibiting travel.”

“We know that this virus, like all viruses, does mutate and form new variants. We also know that the likelihood of the emergence of more severe forms of variants is increased significantly where people are not vaccinated,” Ramaphosa said.

Ramaphosa also assured that South Africa has the means to control the spread of variants to other countries, including requiring a vaccination certificate and a negative test taken within 72 hours of travel, as well as a mask mandate for the duration of travel.

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