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S.Africa says it is being punished for early COVID variant detection -Breaking


© Reuters. FILE PHOTO – Passengers wait to have a PCR tested for the coronavirus (COVID-19), before they travel on international flights. Tambo International Airport Johannesburg, South Africa. November 26, 2021. REUTERS/Sumaya Hisham/File Photo

JOHANNESBURG – South Africa has announced that it will be punished for being able to spot new COVID-19 variations early. The travel restrictions and bans imposed due to the Omicron variant are likely to affect tourism.

South Africa is home to some of the most highly-skilled epidemiologists and scientists in the world. They have been able to spot emerging coronavirus variants as well as their mutations very early in their lives. Omicron, a variant of the Omicron virus, was initially discovered in South Africa. Since then, it has been found in Israel, Botswana, Israel, and Hong Kong.

The Ministry of International Relations and Cooperation stated that the latest travel bans are akin punishing South Africa because of its advanced genome sequencing and ability to detect variants faster.

In a statement, it stated that excellence in science should be celebrated and not punished.

Numerous countries announced travel bans for South Africa on Friday and Saturday.

Foreign ministry pointed out that the latest variant had been detected in several other countries but the international reaction was “starkly distinct” from cases in south Africa.

The new variant was first announced on Wednesday by a team of scientists in South Africa who said they had detected a variant that could possibly evade the body’s immune response and make it more transmissible.

The World Health Organization referred to it Omicron on Friday and classified it as “variant concern”, its highest level. It said preliminary evidence suggested an increase in the risk of reinfection.

According to Naledi Pandor, South Africa’s Foreign Minister, “Our immediate concern” is the impact these restrictions have on families, tourism industry and businesses.

To persuade countries with travel bans, the government engaged them.

On Friday, the WHO cautioned countries against hastily imposing travel restrictions linked to the variant, saying they should take a “risk-based and scientific approach”.

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