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Malawi's president slams Omicron travel bans on African countries from the US and other governments as 'Afrophobia'

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  • Joe Biden
    Joe Biden
    46th and current president of the United States
President Joe Biden and Dr. Anthony Fauci
President Joe Biden and Dr. Anthony Fauci discuss the omicron COVID-19 variant at the White House on November 29, 2021.Anna Moneymaker/Getty Images
  • Malawian President Lazarus Chakwera said Omicron travel bans on African countries are not based on science.

  • "Covid measures must be based on science, not Afrophobia," Chakwera said on Sunday.

  • The US and other countries have imposed travel restrictions over the new strain of COVID-19.

Malawian President Lazarus Chakwera decried travel bans imposed on African countries over a concerning new strain of COVID-19 as "Afrophobia."

"We are all concerned about the new covid variant and owe South Africa's scientists our thanks for identifying it before anyone else did," Chakwera said in a Facebook post on Sunday. "But the unilateral travel bans now imposed on [Southern African Development Community] countries by the UK, EU, US, Australia, and others are uncalled for. Covid measures must be based on science, not Afrophobia."

Other African leaders have also condemned the travel bans that were implemented due to the new variant of the virus, which the World Health Organization has named Omicron. South African President Cyril Ramaphosa said he's "deeply disappointed" by the bans and called for them to be promptly lifted, BBC News reported.

Omicron was first detected in South Africa. As world leaders move to stop the spread of the Omicron variant, the Biden administration on Friday announced travel restrictions for a number of African countries: South Africa, Botswana, Zimbabwe, Namibia, Lesotho, Eswatini, Mozambique, and Malawi.

Anthony Fauci, the top infectious disease expert in the US, on Sunday defended the travel restrictions during an interview on ABC's "This Week."

"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 said. "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."

However, Matshidiso Moeti, the WHO's regional director for Africa, also criticized travel restrictions imposed on southern African countries over the detection of Omicron.

"Travel restrictions may play a role in slightly reducing the spread of COVID-19 but place a heavy burden on lives and livelihoods," Moeti said in a statement on Sunday, per NBC News. "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."

Moeti applauded the governments of South Africa and Botswana for their "speed and transparency" in informing the wider world of the new variant.

"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," Moeti added.

President Joe Biden on Monday said Omicron is a "cause for concern, not a cause for panic."

"We have the best vaccine in the world, the best medicines, the best scientists, and we're learning more every single day," Biden said at the White House. "We'll fight this variant with scientific and knowledgeable actions and speed, not chaos and confusion. We have more tools today to fight the pandemic than we've ever had before — from vaccines to boosters to vaccines for children 5 years and older, and much more."

Read the original article on Business Insider

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