- World Health Organization (WHO) slammed that the travel restrictions place a heavy burden on lives and livelihoods
- South Africa’s president Cyril Ramaphosa also described that travel bans are completely unjustified
- United States has given exceptions in its travel ban for American citizens, and permanent residents
The World Health Organization (WHO) has slammed the travel bans enforced on southern African countries in view of the Omicron variant of COVID-19 by stating that these restrictions place a heavy burden on lives and livelihoods.
Matshidiso Moeti, who is WHO’s regional director for Africa noted in a statement, “Travel restrictions may play a role in slightly reducing the spread of COVID-19 but place a heavy burden on lives and livelihoods.” She advised countries to follow science and international health regulations to avoid using travel bans.
Moreover, South Africa’s president Cyril Ramaphosa also described that travel bans are completely unjustified, mentioning that it will not be effective in controlling the spread of Omicron. The President added that travel restrictions will damage the economies of the affected countries.
Since the finding of the Omicron Variant, multiple countries involving the United States (US), the United Kingdom, Japan, Russia, Saudi Arabia and others have enforced travel bans on the affected regions in southern Africa. It has been found that Omicron has a higher number of mutations and spreads very quickly.
Reportedly, the United States has given exceptions in its travel ban for American citizens, and permanent residents. On Monday, Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida declared that all international arrivals will be forbidden, days after the government implemented quarantine rules for Japanese nationals returning to the country from South Africa and eight other nearby countries.
Matshidoso Moeti also acknowledged South Africa for informing the United Nations body about the variant as soon as it discovered it. The WHO official remarked, “The speed and transparency of the South African and Botswana government in informing the world of the new variant are to be commended.”
At present, the WHO asserted that it is not yet clear whether omicron is transmissible or causes more severe disease compared to the other variants of COVID-19. It will take days to weeks to understand the level of severity of omicron.