Malawi's president slams new Omicron travel bans as 'Afrophobia'

2021-12-02 10:58:50
Malawi's president slams new Omicron travel bans as 'Afrophobia'

Malawi's president has slammed as "Afrophobia" the travel bans imposed by the United States and other nations in response to the discovery of the omicron coronavirus variant, joining other African leaders in condemning the restrictions.

Malawian President Lazarus Chakwera wrote in a Facebook post on Sunday that "Covid measures must be based on science, not Afrophobia."

He said people around the world owe South Africa's scientists "our thanks for identifying it before anyone else did," adding that travel bans imposed on several countries in southern Africa by the U.K., European Union, U.S., Australia and others are "uncalled for."

Malawi is one of the eight countries the United States has restricted travel from starting Monday.

Chakwera is not the first African leader to call on the nations to reverse the new travel bans. South Africa's president on Sunday called on countries to reverse the "unjustified" travel bans, which nations have put in place to combat the spread of the new omicron variant.

Several governments have called the travel bans rushed and unjust, and South Africa said it felt punished for discovering the new variant.

"We call upon all those countries that have imposed travel bans on our country and our southern African sister countries to immediately and urgently reverse their decisions," South African President Cyril Ramaphosa said.

The "blaming and shaming" of African nations for the Omicron variant once again underscores the persistent racism against Black people in the United States, an African American physician and health advocate says.

Speaking on Wednesday at a Reuters Next panel on racial disparities in Black maternal healthcare, Dr. Joia Crear-Perry said the medical profession in the US needed to stop resorting to racist tropes and start truth-telling.

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