CAPE TOWN - South African Tourism (SA Tourism) has applauded the discovery of the new Covid-19 variant by renowned local scientists, saying collaborative efforts with laboratories and the Network for Genomic Surveillance in South Africa acted swiftly to inform the rest of the world.
“Our country’s epidemiological reputation is world-class and South Africa prides itself on this. This important discovery was also noted and commended by Secretary of State in the US, Antony Blinken, who praised South Africa for quickly identifying the new Covid-19 strain and sharing this information with the world.
“While the South African scientists correctly and proactively informed the world in contributing to the global efforts to alleviate the spread of the new variant, this did not mean that the variant originated in South Africa.
“The announcement of the new variant by our scientists has unfortunately had unintended consequences, resulting in many countries closing their borders for travellers from South Africa.
“Post-South Africa’s discovery of this new variant, it has emerged that the Omicron variant has been detected in various other countries around the world, including Britain, Belgium, Botswana, Germany, Italy, Hong Kong, Israel and the Czech Republic.”
The tourism body added that it had complete confidence in the country’s health sector, which has demonstrated resilience, competence and excellent expertise since the outbreak of the pandemic in March 2020.
“Over and above this, South Africa’s businesses have provided safe tourism products, venues and establishments by implementing and adhering to globally benchmarked health and safety protocols and norms and standards.
“We would like to encourage these businesses to continue enforcing these protocols. The importance of non-pharmaceutical interventions such as the compulsory wearing of masks, maintaining social distancing and regular washing of hands as well as socially distanced limited gatherings in well-ventilated spaces remain in place. The safety of South African residents and all visitors to the country remains of the utmost importance.
“We would like to also remind South Africans of the importance of getting vaccinated. As a country, we know that our biggest weapon against Covid-19 at this stage is vaccination and observing of the non-pharmaceutical safety practices and standards.
“We are hopeful that we will remain able to welcome visitors from across the world. The tourism sector is important to the South African economic value chain and its recovery is of utmost importance to us.”