On Friday, South Africa’s health minister said travel restrictions imposed by various governments in the country were “unwarranted” and a “gut reaction”.
“COVID-19 is a global health emergency. We need to work together, not punish each other,” South African Health Minister Joe Phaahla told a news conference, according to BNC Newsas news of a “worrying variant” of COVID-19 has struck fear into governments and markets around the world.
“Witch hunts do not benefit anyone. South Africa wants to be an honest player in the world, sharing health information and not just for the benefit of South Africans and global citizens,” he added, noting that travel bans contradict typical World Health Organization (WHO) standards.
Phaahla said the measures were “unwarranted”, pointing out that the travel bans violate WHO norms and standards. “The kind of knee-jerk reaction, it really doesn’t make sense,” he added.
The United Kingdom, the European Union, the United States and Canada were quick to place travel restrictions from some countries where the variant has been detected, as well as neighboring countries.
“As a precaution until we have more information, I am ordering additional restrictions on air travel from South Africa and seven other countries,” President Biden said. said in a press release on travel restrictions on Friday.
“As we move forward, we will continue to be guided by what science and my medical team advise,” he added.
However, epidemiologists have said it may be too late to stop the variant – which the WHO has dubbed omicron – from spreading around the world.
Although the mutation was first detected in South Africa, it has since been discovered in Belgium, Botswana, Israel and Hong Kong.
Stocks also plunged Friday as fears over the new variant grew. The Dow Jones Industrial Average lost 900 points and Asian markets were also affected, with Japan’s Nikkei index and China’s Hang Seng index each falling more than 2%.