UK Omicron restrictions on African countries are ‘travel racist’

People from 11 African countries have to pay more than £2,000 for hotel quarantine (Image: AFP/Getty Images)

The UK and its European neighbors have been accused of causing ‘tourist racism’ against redlisted African countries.

South African scientists told the world they had discovered the mutant Omicron variant on November 25. While governments around the world thanked the country for its transparency, the announcement was swift. backfire.

Around 11 African countries have been put on the UK’s red list, with much of Europe and the US quickly following suit.

That means most entry into the UK is banned and anyone arriving from these places has to pay around £2,285 for a Government hotel quarantine package and two PCR tests.

African leaders and international health experts have pushed back against these restrictions with United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres calling the rules ‘racist tourism’.

Speaking earlier this month, Mr Guterres said: ‘We have the tools to have a safe ride. Use those tools to avoid this kind of, let me say, racist travel, which I think is unacceptable. ‘

Nigeria’s High Commissioner to London, Sarafa Tunji Isola, said the UK should not panic about Omicron (Image: PA)

When Nigeria was added to the UK’s red list on December 6, the country’s high commissioner in London, Sarafa Tunji Isola, quoted Mr Guterres.

He told BBC Radio 4:

Mr Isola went on to claim that Omicron was a ‘mild variant’, stressing that it was not a strain to panic.

Indeed, the President of South Africa, Cyril Ramaphosa, has also said that global bans are ‘no longer informed by science’.

Although it is too early to say whether the Omicron variant will evade the vaccine, some South African scientists say infected people show signs of infection. symptoms are milder than those with Delta.

Other experts believe this variant has not been studied long enough to know the effects of Omicron on hospitalizations and deaths.

Even if ‘mild symptoms’ end up true for South Africa, the country has a much younger population than the UK and scientists want more data on how Omicron affects the elderly .

But Omicron has been found in many European countries. There have been 1,898 confirmed cases in the UK on Saturday and this number, possibly higher in reality, is growing every day.

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Omicron will be the UK’s dominant variant by mid-January, it has been predicted (Image: MailOnline)

Leading epidemiologist Professor Tim Spector believes the UK will have more Omicron cases than most African countries in less than 10 days.

If true, this would leave ‘very little point’ in enforcing travel restrictions, the King’s College scientist added.

Indeed, the UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA) predicts Omicron will account for more than 50% of cases in the UK by early next week.

Fast the spread is largely attributed to the fact that Omicrons are easier to transmit than Delta, as Boris Johnson said early evidence shows

Omicron’s seemingly inevitable dominance is what African leaders argue is the ‘nonsense’ of restricting travel.

But besides that, Mr. Rhamaposa said it was unfair for the West to penalize poorer countries with increased cases after stripping them of their vaccines in the first place.

He said last Thursday: ‘This pandemic has shown how we respond to a truly global crisis.

‘[The west] ordered more vaccines than their population required, and when we wanted a vaccine, they kept giving us scraps on their desks.

‘Of the nearly 7.5 billion doses of the Covid-19 vaccine used globally as of mid-November, 71% were administered in high- and middle-income countries. Only 0.6% is administered in low-income countries. Africa is the hardest hit by unequal access to vaccines.

‘As the events of the past few days have shown, we are living with the threat of mutated variants that have the potential to cause further devastation in communities around the globe.’

Vaccination is falling in poor countries because of hoarding, weak infrastructure and vaccine hesitancy (Image: Getty Images)

Indeed, every UK adult will be provided a third booster shot in January while South Africa has a fully vaccinated population of only 25.93%.

Nigeria has only 1.91% of its population and Malawi and Zambia, which are also on the red list, have less than 5% vaccinated.

Kenyan GP, ​​Marie-Claire Wangari had previously told that the UK should delay its ramping up plan so countries like yours can catch up with rich nations that can stockpile vaccines in bilateral deals with pharmaceutical companies.

However, it is important to note that although many African countries have now received the vaccinations to which they are entitled, vaccination programs are still hampered by weak infrastructure and reluctance by the public. Vaccine.

The Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) said: ‘Throughout the pandemic, the government has been guided by science and the advice of medical experts to ensure that steps to minimize the risk of importing COVID-19 cases and variants from abroad.’

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Huynh Nguyen

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