Wed. Jan 26th, 2022

The restrictions brought in by countries including Australia are uncalled for, the president said

Malawi’s President has accused Western countries of “Afrophobia” for shutting their borders to his and neighbouring nations after South Africa flagged a new coronavirus variant.

Dozens of countries have barred flights from southern Africa to keep the variant, named Omicron, from their shores.

Lazarus Chakwera is currently chairing the 16-nation Southern African Development Community (SADC) which has seen most of its members blacklisted, sparking outrage.

Posting on his Facebook page, he said: “We are all concerned about the new COVID variant and owe South Africa’s scientists our thanks for identifying it before anyone else did.

“But the unilateral travel bans now imposed on SADC countries by the UK, EU, US, Australia, and others are uncalled for.

“COVID measures must be based on science, not Afrophobia.”

The World Health Organization (WHO) has designated Omicron a variant of concern and is assessing its impact.

The variant is thought to be behind rising infections in South Africa, the continent’s worst-hit country.

Several governments deem the travel bans rushed and unjust, and South Africa said it felt “punished” for sounding the alarm.

The WHO has called for borders to remain open.

“We must work in solidarity,” Botswana’s International Affairs Minister Lemogang Kwape said on Sunday.

“We are not going to be geo-politicising this virus,” he added, when asked to disclose the provenance of Botswana’s first detected Omicron cases, dating to 7 November.

Botswana has since picked up 19 cases of Omicron.

SBS News

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