WHO slaps down Biden’s hypocritical travel ban, urges other nation’s not to follow suit

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The World Health Organization has strongly responded to the travel bans imposed on African countries due to the latest COVID variant which has led to mass hysteria as well as the prospect for the return of the oppressive measures that were imposed at the beginning of the pandemic despite a top researcher’s insistence that there is no need to panic.

While Americans were enjoying the Thanksgiving holiday, the media served up a massive helping of fear and dread over the Omicron strain, a rapidly spreading variant with dozens of mutations leading President Joe Biden to announce a travel ban on seven South African countries, a move that during the previous administration would have been decried as racist.

The hypocritical overreaction from the White House, along with other nations including the United Kingdom which have implemented similar bans, will be devastating to the African economies and was sharply rebuked by the WHO as well as the president of South Africa who ripped the “completely unjustified” restrictions of movement, urging others to not follow in Biden’s footsteps.

In a Sunday statement, the WHO’s regional director for Africa urged moderation over Omicron.

“Travel restrictions may play a role in slightly reducing the spread of COVID-19 but place a heavy burden on lives and livelihoods,” said Dr. Matshidiso Moeti. “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 added, “With the Omicron variant now detected in several regions of the world, putting in place travel bans that target Africa attacks global solidarity. COVID-19 constantly exploits our divisions. We will only get the better of the virus if we work together for solutions,”

The first woman to be elected as the region’s WHO director was joined by South African President Cyril Ramaphosa who criticized the bans as being “not informed by science” during a Sunday speech.

“These restrictions are completely unjustified and unfairly discriminate against our country and our southern African sister countries,” Ramaphosa said. “The prohibition of travel is not informed by science, nor will it be effective in preventing the spread of this variant.”

“The only thing the prohibition on travel will do is to further damage the economies of the affected countries, and undermine the ability to respond to, and also to recover from, the pandemic,” he added.

“We call upon these countries that have imposed travel bans on our country and on our other southern African sister countries to immediately and urgently reverse their decisions and lift the bans they have imposed before any further damage is done on our economies and to the livelihoods of our people,” he said.

The insistence that the new variant merits such draconian measures has been contradicted by Dr. Angelique Coetzee who serves as the chairwoman of the South African Medical Association and who downplayed the severity of Omicron when she spoke with media outlets over the weekend while criticizing the “knee jerk reaction” of governments and their travel bans.

Biden is expected to deliver remarks on the response to Omicron on Monday.

Chris Donaldson

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