Biden, EU, Africa and COVID travel ban. By Chido Nwangwu
Special to USAfrica magazine (Houston) and USAfricaonline.com, first Africa-owned, US-based newspaper published on the Internet.
Africans scientists and health policy researchers — especially in South Africa — seem to have become the objects of silly attacks regarding the issue of travel ban.
What wrong did they do but alert the world, in a timely manner, the variant of the coronavirus known as Omicron was beginning to rampage in their countries and the region?
South Africa’s President Cyril Ramaphosa (who recovered this week from the Coronavirus) has condemned those travel bans and stated that he is “deeply disappointed” by the actions of the UK, EU and US.
The World Health Organization (WHO) Africa director Matshidiso Moeti has lamented that ”With the Omicron variant now detected in several regions of the world, putting in place travel bans that target Africa attacks global solidarity.”
There is a genuine case to secure your borders and ensure the safety of your citizens. But when it is done in a manner that seems to be targeting the weaker countries of the world especially in Southern Africa, then there is something be investigated and reviewed. We have seen this type of hostility and discrimination before these ones!
Therefore, it came for many as a welcome development that U.S President Joe Biden has said he is considering lifting the travel ban imposed since November 2021 on non-U. S. citizen travelers from South Africa and seven other southern African countries into the U.S.
He stated at the White House on Tuesday December 21, 2021 that people should remember why he placed the restrictions: “Remember why I said we put the travel ban on. It was to see how much time we had before it hit here so we can begin to decide what we needed by looking up what was happening in other countries…. But we’re past that now.”
He has also promised to distribute 500 million free at-home Covid-19 testing kits to Americans and deploy federal medical personnel to assist hospitals in need.
There’s no doubt that I have a strong advocate for the wearing of masks and vaccinations!
Only a few days ago, the greater Houston area COVID-19 Omicron variant threat level was escalated to ‘Orange’
Harris County Judge Lina Hidalgo announced she will raise the threat level from yellow to orange due to a rise in cases showing an “explosive growth.”
Warning that “Unfortunately, the omicron variant has arrived in Harris County in full force…. These trends are understandably frustrating – especially as we close out the year with friends and family. But we can still blunt the force of this latest wave if we take action. As we approach Christmas and New Years, consider giving yourself and your family the gift of health by getting your booster, getting tested before any gatherings of people outside of your household, and wearing a mask. It could very well save your life or that of a loved one.”
You may recall that once the COVID-19 variant known as Omicron continued it fast spread, Britain required all inbound travelers to take and show pre-departure COVID-19 test. Moreso, arrivals from Nigeria were required to quarantine in hotels to slow the spread of the Omicron variant. The health ministry stated that it has data which show the vast majority of cases in Britain involve mainly travelers from Nigeria and South Africa into Britain. Hence, it added Nigeria to its “red list” on Monday December 6, 2021.
The simple point being stressed by some of the African and non-African researchers and scientists is that for being open and sharing information about the extremely urgent threat posed by this virus, millions of people were locked out from traveling into most of the developed economies of the world.