South Africa’s President Cyril Ramaphosa has tackled Western countries for quickly imposing travel bans following the latest Omicron coronavirus outbreak.
Britain introduced the measures in response to the emergence of the Omicron variant of Covid in South Africa this week.
Scientists have so far only detected the new Omicron variant in relatively small numbers, mainly in South Africa but also in Botswana, Hong Kong, and Israel. But they are concerned by its high number of mutations which raised concerns that it could be more vaccine-resistant and transmissible.
South African officials are furious over the British ban on flights from southern African countries. Several other countries including Israel have followed suit.
Many South Africans feel they are being punished for their transparency and hard work in keeping tabs on the way the virus is mutating.
South Africa’s President Cyril Ramaphosa said authorities would not be considering economic lockdown restrictions for the time being. He also slam rich Western countries for their knee-jerk imposition of travel bans after hearing about the new variant.
Ramaphosa said: ‘This is a clear and completely unjustified departure from the commitment that many of these countries made at the meeting of G20 countries in Rome last month’.
‘The prohibition of travel is not informed by science, nor will it be effective in preventing the spread of this variant.
‘The only thing [it] will do is to further damage the economies of the affected countries and undermine their ability to respond to the pandemic.’
Ramaphosa also said that mandatory Covid vaccination is being considered by the government after conceding that his country was entering a fourth wave of the pandemic.
He said: ‘If cases continue to climb, we can expect to enter a fourth wave of infections within the next few weeks, if not sooner.’
The Omicron variant is thought to be more transmissible than the currently-dominant Delta variant. It was first identified in South Africa but has been found in Hong Kong, Belgium, and the Netherlands.