The World Health Organization on Sunday urged countries to “follow the science” rather than impose travel bans in a bid to contain the new alternative to Omicron. “There is currently no information to suggest that symptoms associated with Omicron are different from those of other variants,” the WHO said.
The World Health Organization suggested on Sunday that travel bans imposed by countries such as the United States and European Union countries, including the Netherlands, for travelers from South African countries also have political implications. “The travel ban was imposed due to the Omicron variant targeting Africa attacking global solidarity,” said Matshidiso Moeti, WHO Regional Director-General for Africa.
The speed and transparency of governments 🇿🇦 & 🇧🇼 in informing the world about the new change is commendable.@Who is the Stands with African countries that have had the courage to boldly share life-saving public health information, helping to protect the world from the spread of the virus. #covid19. https://t.co/6nHhuHlvTG
– Dr. Machidiso Moeti (@MoetiTshidi) November 28, 2021
Around the same time, South African President Cyril Ramaphosa made an “urgent” appeal to rich countries to immediately end the travel ban on South Africa: “Countries that have imposed travel restrictions unfairly discriminate against South Africa and do not help solve the problem,” Ramaphosa said. He said it would be better for rich countries to “focus on supporting developing countries in their fight against COVID-19.”
The World Health Organization on Sunday also confirmed that it is not yet clear whether the new variant of Omicron is more contagious than other SARS-CoV-2 variants or whether the variant leads to more serious disease. “Preliminary data indicate that hospital admissions are increasing in South Africa, but this may be due to an increase in the number of infected people, and not due to omicron-specific infection,” the organization said.
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