Russia, South Africa to collaborate in combating COVID-19
Russian President Vladimir Putin has discussed pooling efforts in tackling the COVID-19 pandemic over the phone with his South African counterpart Cyril Ramaphosa.
"The heads of states agreed to pool efforts in tackling the coronavirus infection pandemic, particularly amid the emergence of the new Omicron strain," the Kremlin press service reported on Saturday.
The World Health Organization (WHO) designated the B.1.1.529 variant of the coronavirus identified in South Africa as a "Variant of Concern" and assigned it the Greek letter Omicron last week. In its statement, the WHO noted that this variant has a large number of mutations, some of which are concerning. Moreover, according to preliminary data, the risk of contracting this variant is substantially higher than with the Delta variant.
Russian nationals do not need a visa for visiting South Africa. There are no direct flights between Russian and South African cities.
Putin and Ramaphosa also discussed the details of preparations to the Russian-Africa summit, the cooperation within the BRICS framework and the issues of trade and economic cooperation.
The second Russia-Africa Summit is scheduled for 2022. At the inaugural summit in Sochi in 2019, President Putin vowed that Russia was “not going to participate in a new ‘repartition’ of the continent’s wealth; rather, we are ready to engage in competition for cooperation with Africa.”