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WHO condemns travel bans on southern African countries over Omicron

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The World Health Organization (WHO) has condemned the travel bans imposed on 10 southern African nations by countries around the world, following the discovery of a new variant of Coronavirus, Omicron, by South African scientists.

The WHO regional director for Africa, Matshidiso Moeti, who stayed this on the back of European countries banning flights from the southern parts of Africa, said such countries must “follow scientific zdddzand international health regulations in order to avoid using travel restrictions.

“Travel restrictions may play a role in slightly reducing the spread of COVID-19 but it would place a heavy burden on lives and livelihoods,” Moeti said in a statement on Monday.

“If restrictions are implemented, they should not be unnecessarily invasive or intrusive, and should be scientifically based, according to the International Health Regulations, which is a legally binding instrument of international law recognized by over 190 nations.”

READ ALSO: WHO names new Covid-19 Variant ‘Omicron’

Moeti praised South Africa for following international health regulations and informing WHO as soon as its national laboratory identified the Omicron variant, saying “the speed and transparency of the South African and Botswana governments in informing the world of the new variant is to be commended,” was quite commendable.

“WHO stands with African countries which had the courage to boldly share life-saving public health information, helping protect the world against the spread of COVID-19,” she said.

The world heath organ said it was scaling up its support for genomic sequencing in Africa so that sequencing laboratories can have access to adequate human resources and testing reagents to work at full capacity.

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