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Omicron Border Restrictions Are ‘Travel Apartheid’ - UN
By Staff, Agencies
United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres on Wednesday spoke out against the recent series of Covid travel restrictions imposed on certain parts of the world with reported omicron Covid cases, condemning the decision to close borders as “travel apartheid.”
Several countries moved to establish targeted travel restrictions on regions where the variant is present, like southern Africa, drawing criticism from Guterres.
“We have the instruments to have safe travel. Let's use those instruments to avoid this kind of, allow me to say, travel apartheid, which I think is unacceptable,” the UN chief explained while speaking to reporters in New York.
He critiqued the travel restrictions as “deeply unfair and punitive,” also adding that they are “ineffective.”
South Africa, which was the first country to detect the omicron variant within its borders, was met with travel restrictions from other nations after announcing the case, which the country’s foreign ministry condemned.
“Excellent science should be applauded and not punished,” the ministry explained, according to The BBC, adding the restrictions were “akin to punishing South Africa for its advanced genomic sequencing and the ability to detect new variants quicker.”
Africa has one of the world’s lowest Covid vaccination rates, and Guterres, an advocate for vaccine equity, says a lack of global immunization could create “a breeding ground for variants.”
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