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African Union Urges Removal of Omicron COVID Travel Bans

African Union Urges Removal of Omicron COVID Travel Bans
folder_openAfrica... access_timeone month ago
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By Staff, Agencies

The African Union, a continental body composed of 55 nations, released a statement urging the world to remove travel restrictions imposed on several of its members, which were instituted over COVID omicron variant concerns.

Members argued against the “selective” travel bans and said the restrictions are a penalty on nations for sharing their data on the variant.

“Despite the widespread distribution of omicron cases globally, the majority of border closures solely target flights to and from… countries in Southern Africa, some of which have no evidence of the Omicron variant and relatively low daily COVID-19 case numbers,” a press release from the body said.

Additionally, the AU said that the restrictions “have an immediate and significant negative impact in the region” because they hurt the economy and access to medical supplies.

The travel bans also harm ongoing investigations into the COVID offshoot by limiting the “capacity for Southern African researchers and scientists to access the reagents needed to monitor spread of the omicron variant,” the AU explained.

Several figures have now called for a removal of the targeted travel bans imposed against countries in southern Africa, including the head of the United Nations.

Last week, UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres slammed the restrictions as “travel apartheid,” adding that the border closures are not only “deeply unfair and punitive,” but also “ineffective.”