Disgraceful travel bans achieve nothing but poverty and despair

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Omicron Covid Variant Illustration

Knee-jerk bans on travel to and from southern Africa, sparked by fears of the new Omicron variant of the virus that causes Covid-19, run against WHO policy advice.

They have already failed, and are a kick in the teeth for the region’s hard-hit tourism industry.

The last few days proved that the politicians of the UK, Europe and the US are grossly ignorant, and don’t give a fig about the people of sub-Saharan Africa.

When South African scientists, because of their vigilance and expertise, identified a new Covid-19 variant of concern, and did the right thing by alerting the rest of the world, panicked rich countries had no qualms slamming the door shut on the region’s fingers.

They summarily cancelled flights and banned travellers from southern Africa other than returning citizens. In what may be a world first, only Australia seems sane.

These countries closed their borders even though they know absolutely nothing about the new variant, and standing World Health Organisation (WHO) policy advice is that travel bans simply do not work.

Never, says Hanlon’s Razor, attribute to malice that which can adequately be explained by stupidity. Yet it is impossible not to be very angry at the depth of the ignorance and callous disregard of consequences displayed by these foreign health officials and politicians.

Eager to be seen to be doing something, they hoped that falsely scapegoating the stereotypical dark, disease-ridden Africa might give their citizens the impression that they’re being kept safe.

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