Malawi's president rips new omicron travel bans: 'Afrophobia'

·2 min read

Malawi's president slammed travel bans imposed by the United States and other nations in response to the discovery of the omicron coronavirus variant, arguing the move represents "Afrophobia."

Malawian President Lazarus Chakwera wrote in a Facebook post on Sunday that "Covid measures must be based on science, not Afrophobia."

He said people around the world owe South Africa's scientists "our thanks for identifying it before anyone else did," adding that travel bans imposed on several countries in southern Africa by the U.K., European Union, U.S., Australia and others are "uncalled for."

Malawi is one of the eight countries the Biden administration has restricted travel from starting Monday.

Chakwera is not the first African leader to call on the nations to reverse the new travel bans. South Africa's president on Sunday called on countries to reverse the "unjustified" travel bans, which nations have put in place to combat the spread of the new omicron variant.

Several governments have called the travel bans rushed and unjust, and South Africa said it felt punished for sounding the alarm.

"We call upon all those countries that have imposed travel bans on our country and our southern African sister countries to immediately and urgently reverse their decisions," South African President Cyril Ramaphosa said.

President Biden's chief medical adviser, Anthony Fauci, has defended the travel restrictions imposed by the Biden administration and other governments on South Africa and other countries in response to the omicron variant.

"Travel bans, when you have a highly transmissible virus, never completely ... prevent it from coming into the country. No way that's going to happen," Fauci told host George Stephanopoulos on ABC's "This Week" on Sunday.

"But what you can do is you can delay it enough to get us better prepared. And that's the thing that people need to understand. If you're going to do the travel ban the way we've done now and that we're implementing right now, utilize the time that you're buying to fill in the gaps," he said.

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