Cape Town – President Cyril Ramaphosa has expressed disappointment over the decision by a number of countries to ban entry from South Africa due to the Omicron variant.
Ramaphosa said the restrictions on South Africa and the rest of the southern African region were completely unjustified.
“We are deeply disappointed by the decision of several countries to prohibit travel from a number of Southern African countries following the identification of the Omicron variant.
“We call upon all those countries that have imposed travel bans on our country and our Southern African sister countries to urgently reverse their decisions and lift the bans they have imposed before any further damage is done to our economies,” he said.
Ramaphosa said this on Sunday while addressing the nation on developments in the country’s response to the Covid-19 pandemic.
He said that there was “no scientific justification for keeping these restrictions in place”.
We are deeply disappointed by the decision of several countries to prohibit travel from a number of Southern African countries following the identification of the Omicron variant.https://t.co/EpfT062cmt
— Cyril Ramaphosa 🇿🇦 (@CyrilRamaphosa) November 28, 2021
Scientists confirmed on Thursday that a new variant had been detected in the country.
A number of countries have since imposed travel bans on South Africa and the rest of the region after the discovery of the new variant.
Britain was the first to slap a flight ban from countries in southern Africa, just hours after South Africa revealed it had detected the variant which has multiple mutations.
Austria, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands and the US among others on Friday joined Britain in restricting flights from the region.
The European Commission, the executive arm of the 27-nation European Union, also proposed a complete suspension of flights to and from southern Africa until there was a ‘clear understanding about the danger’ posed by the new variant.
However, the UN’s World Health Organisation (WHO) on Friday urged against travel curbs at this stage.
South Africa has the highest pandemic numbers in Africa, notching up around 2.95 million cases, of which 89 657 have been fatal.
Picture: Getty Images
Compiled by Betha Madhomu
Additional reporting by AFP