Joe Biden to maintain travel restrictions to the U.S.
The South African leader called for the restrictions to be reversed as soon as possible because they would do little or nothing to stop the cases of Omicron that have already been detected around the world in places like the Netherlands, Denmark and Australia.
Several countries have blacklisted South Africa and its neighbors for travel after the World Health Organization (WHO) found that Omicron was a “variant of concern,” meaning it is potentially more contagious than others.
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In Malta, travel to and from regions with identified cases of the variant will be temporarily banned from midnight Saturday, Chris Fearne, Malta’s deputy prime minister and health minister, said in a tweet Friday.
Israel recorded its first case of the new B.1,1,529 coronavirus variant and the country has announced that seven countries in southern Africa will be placed on a red list. This means that returnees from those countries must quarantine themselves in a designated hotel.
On Thursday night, Prime Minister Naftali Bennett said he had accepted the Health Ministry’s recommendations to place South Africa, Lesotho, Botswana, Zimbabwe, Mozambique, Namibia and Eswatini on a new red list.
Travelers from South Africa, Botswana, Eswatini, Zimbabwe, Namibia and Lesotho will have to remain in quarantine in government-provided facilities for 10 days from midnight local time on Saturday, November 27.
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The decision comes after the announcement by the President of the European Commission, Ursula von der Leyen, that countries of the bloc are preparing to study the possibility of coordinating the prohibition of flights to or from the southern African region as an emergency measure to prevent the spread of a new variant detected in South Africa, which is worrying because of its capacity to mutate.
However, this Friday afternoon, the Minister of Transport, Mobility and Urban Agenda, Raquel Sanchez, has not ruled out that “during these days” some control measures may be taken for flights from South Africa in view of the appearance of a new variant of coronavirus.
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South African President Cyril Ramaphosa has again voiced his dissatisfaction with the internationally imposed travel bans on South Africa, which he considers “unscientific and discriminatory”.
Ramaphosa is immersed in a high-level tour of the western region of the African continent and, during his stop in Nigeria, he thanked the President of that nation, Muhammadu Buhari, for the message his government is sending by holding the meeting.
Ramaphosa has detailed that the presidents of Ivory Coast, Ghana or Senegal, nations that he will visit during this tour, also move in the same terms, reports the South African portal News24.
“This is a global pandemic, and overcoming it requires us to collaborate and work together as a collective,” said the South African leader, appealing to the twinning of Africa and the international community.
Ramaphosa’s visit comes at a time when most of the international community has reinforced its measures to prevent the spread of the coronavirus, especially by banning travel to South Africa and other countries in the southern region of the continent due to the appearance of a new variant of the virus, Omicron.