Posted on November 29, 2021

Omicron Travel Bans on African Countries Are ‘Afrophobia,’ Malawi’s President Says

Rachel Pannett, Washington Post, November 29, 2021

The president of Malawi has described travel bans imposed by several nations — including the United States — in response to a new strain of the coronavirus as “Afrophobia,” joining other African leaders in condemning the restrictions.

Many countries have closed their borders to travelers from southern Africa after the new virus variant, dubbed omicron, was identified by South African scientists last week. {snip}

The bans have also angered political leaders in Africa who view them as hasty and unjustified — scapegoating countries that have been quick to come forward with information on a potentially dangerous new variant. South Africa’s health minister described the measures Friday as “misdirected” and “draconian.”

“We are all concerned about the new covid variant and owe South Africa’s scientists our thanks for identifying it before anyone else did,” Malawi’s president, Lazarus Chakwera, wrote Sunday in a Facebook post. “But the unilateral travel bans now imposed on [Southern African Development Community] countries by the UK, EU, US, Australia, and others are uncalled for. Covid measures must be based on science, not Afrophobia.”


Matshidiso Moeti, the WHO’s Africa director, said Sunday that with the omicron variant surfacing around the world, imposing travel bans that target Africa “attacks global solidarity.”

South African President Cyril Ramaphosa said he was “deeply disappointed” by the travel bans and called for them to be lifted immediately.