Eba Kandovazu

PRESIDENT Hage Geingob says the decision to ban Namibia, without the detection of the new COVID-19 variant is misguided one.

The travel ban of seven Southern African countries, including Namibia, into Europe, Namibia, because of the new COVID-19 variant, Omicron, has caused an uproar, with many calling it discriminatory to African countries. Despite the ban, Europe continues to report Omicron cases, with Belgium reporting its first case yesterday. Europe’s ban follows South Africa reporting last Wednesday that they have detected a new COVID-19 variant. Cases have also been reported in Botswana.

The United Arab Emirates (UAE) is also among a list of countries that imposed travel bans. “I urge the developed world to consciously meditate on the wisdom of unilateral decisions that result in targeted, ambiguous regional travel bans, which are not based on scientific rigor and evidence. These bans have many undesired impacts, including stalling much needed economic recovery in the Global South, stoking tensions and sowing seeds of division between countries and citizens,” Geingob says.

Minister of Health and Social Services Kalumbi Shangula also condemns the ban.

“The ban is not justified because it is not based on science but on politics and prejudice,” he says.

The Minister of Environment, Forestry and Tourism, Pohamba Shifeta yesterday also condemned the ban, saying it is in contradiction with the World Health Organization (WHO) guidelines.

“As we enter the festive season, this is a particularly crushing blow to our tourism industry and for the many lives and livelihoods that depend on it. The government of Namibia will continue, through diplomatic channels, to engage the relevant authorities in the United Kingdom, UAE, EU and it’s member states and other relevant [countries] to ensure that these unjustified restrictions are reversed,” Shifeta said.

International Relations Minister, Netumbo Nandi-Ndaitwah also condemned the ban, saying it was rushed.

“The whole action was taken hastily, even before the World health organization pronounced itself,” she said.

Japan today reported it’s first Omicron case, reportedly a man who traveled from Namibia.