The African Airlines Association (AFRAA) calls discriminatory the European Union’s travel ban on African countries due to the new COVID-19 strain while asserting that such a decision will worsen the aviation industry of 54 countries in the continent.
According to AFRAA’s General Secretary, Abdérahmane Berthé, imposing restrictions as stringent as EU member states did, is stigmatisation directed to African countries, and it doesn’t comply with restrictions imposed on variant areas on the rest of the world, SchengenVisaInfo.com reports.
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“Why target Africa when the virus is reported in other regions as well? Any attempts to stigmatise Africa through travel bans will not work. We should not confuse politics with science. The Omicron variant is now detected in several regions of the world, yet the travel bans seem to be targeted at Africa. This is an affront to the global efforts to find an enduring solution,” the head of AFRAA said.
A similar approach was shared earlier this week by the International Air Transport Association (IATA), which states that travel restrictions don’t affect the infection rates with COVID-19 and urged EU member states to work on other alternatives for minimising the risk of infections.
According to the Africa Centre for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), travel bans on travellers from virus variants haven’t yielded a meaningful outcome. Instead, CDC suggests that governments prioritise their public health and social measures.
Furthermore, global health authorities have criticised the travel ban imposed on the African countries, with the Executive Director of the World Health Organisation, Mike Ryan, saying that it is important to focus on the problem and not punish countries for doing their scientific work and being transparent.
“These travel bans are based in politics and not in science. It is wrong… Why are we locking away Africa when this virus is already on three continents?” AU vaccine delivery representative, Ayoade Alakija said.
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Furthermore, Amesh Adalja, Senior Scholar at John Hopkins Center, said that travel bans don’t work and only end up stigmatising a country, which in this case is South Africa. As a result, the countries that isolated this virus and reported it will get penalised for being transparent. Adalja further noted that the combat against COVID-19 is less predictable now, as tests, vaccination, and other tools are available, and travel bans should not even be discussed at this point.
The claims of stigmatising a country may be valid as the Stop AAPI Hate data revealed that 9,081 anti-Asian hate incident reports were made between March 19, 2020, and this June. Of those, 4,548 occurred last year, and 4,533 this year.