BY PRIVELEDGE GUMBODETE
UNITED States-based Zimbabwean infectious disease specialist Matifadza Hlatshwayo Davis has urged Washington to lift the travel embargo imposed on Zimbabwe and seven other African countries after the new COVID-19 Omicron virus was detected.
The Joe Biden administration announced a travel ban to Botswana, Zimbabwe, Namibia, Lesotho, eSwatini, Mozambique and Malawi, after South Africa, which was red-listed, detected a new COVID-19 variant, Omicron on November 24.
Hlatshwayo-Davis, a St Louis health director, said the ban placed on the eight African countries, was “discriminatory”.
“There are only eight countries currently subjected to travel bans despite global evidence of Omicron community transmission and an updated plan to address global travel. Those eight are predominantly classified as low income countries,” Hlatshwayo-Davis tweeted yesterday.
“Due largely to the devastating impact of colonialism. These countries have already lost millions as a result. The wilful continuance of these travel bans is discriminatory. And the trust that has been eroded will need to be built back. Stop the travel ban!”
Last week, Biden’s chief medical advisor Anthony Fauci admitted that the travel ban needed to be lifted before it had a significant impact on the African countries.
Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe governor John Mangudya yesterday told NewsDay that the travel ban had largely affected the tourism sector.
“The tourism sector is affected, many people wanted to visit Zimbabwe for the festive holidays, but all that probably won’t happen anymore,” Mangudya said.
“The impact has been negative on the economy. It’s negative also in terms of social connections because people now have to rebook and change their plans for the holidays,” he said.