South Africa “punished” for detecting new variant (ministry)

South Africa is “punished” for having detected the new variant of Covid-19 called Omicron, following border closures imposed by several countries around the world, South African Foreign Minister Naledi said on Saturday Pandor. “This latest round of travel bans amounts to punishing South Africa for its advanced genomic sequencing and its ability to detect new variants more quickly,” Pandor said in a statement. She added that while South Africa respects the right of countries to take “necessary precautions” to protect their citizens, the pandemic requires “collaboration and sharing of expertise.” “Our immediate concern is the damage these restrictions are causing to families, to the travel and tourism industries and to businesses,” she continued. The United Kingdom was the first country to have imposed a ban on access to its soil from flights from South Africa, as soon as it was announced by the South African health authorities. The South African Ministry of Foreign Affairs immediately reacted to the decision, calling it “hasty”, noting that the country’s concern “is the damage this decision will cause to tourism industries and businesses.” Subsequently, Italy, Germany, the United States, Canada, Singapore, as well as other countries around the world, decided to ban travelers from South Africa as well as of the southern African sub-region. Countries affected by these restrictions include Botswana, Zimbabwe, Namibia, Lesotho, Eswatini, Mozambique and Malawi. With MAP