The commendable work of South African researchers, who identified the Omicron strain of SARS CoV-2 and transparently announced it to the world, did not generate applause , but draconian and uncoordinated travel restrictions. Sadly, almost two years after the discovery of Covid-19, it appears we haven’t learned any useful lessons that could enable us to find a permanent solution to the pandemic.
Impulsive, antiscientific and poorly targeted reactions, which have not done much to contain the SARS CoV-2 virus since March 2020 appear to be the preferred response to the scientific challenges of our time. Travel restrictions have never been the solution to stem the spread of COVID. On the contrary, these restrictions had a negative impact on the economies and created indescribable difficulties.
In the case of the Omicron, the hasty decision by some European Union countries to ban travel to South Africa and other neighboring countries in southern Africa stands in stark contrast to the many ignored calls to the Western world to ensure equitable access to vaccines worldwide. The accumulation of surplus vaccine stocks that they may never need at the expense of developing countries that stand in long lines for supplies, is an incredible demonstration that the developed world has yet to fully understand that the covid19 virus does not discriminate.
Abdérahmane Berthé, Secretary General of AFRAA, stated in substance that: “The Omicron variant is now detected in several regions of the world, but the travel embargoes only seem to target Africa. It is an affront to efforts around the world to find a lasting solution. We will be better equipped to face the virus if we work together to find solutions and if we avoid discrimination. “
“Why target Africa when the virus is also being reported in other regions?” Any attempt to stigmatize Africa through travel bans is doomed to failure. We must not confuse politics and science. Mr. Berthé underlined.
The African Airlines Association (AFRAA) therefore calls on all countries that have issued unilateral travel restrictions to revoke them immediately and instead seek collaborative measures that will address the challenge of COVID in a holistic manner. . In addition to vaccination, there are proven protocols that have been shown to be effective in curbing the spread of covid19. These must continue to apply as we work together to neutralize or eliminate the virus.
AFRAA also urges African governments to speak out against any attempt to smear the continent with propaganda and medical blunder. They must remind the world that we can only defeat Covid together and not divided.