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Travel ban by UK and other EU countries unjustified: Phaahla

Joe Phaahla. Picture: Ofentse Ramaboa

Joe Phaahla. Picture: Ofentse Ramaboa

Published Nov 26, 2021

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Siyabonga Mkhwanazi

Health Minister Dr Joe Phaahla has questioned the decision of the UK and other countries to impose a travel ban on South Africa after the discovery of a new variant.

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Phaahla said on Friday, during a media briefing, this was unjustified.

He said when the scientists announced the virus they were following the guidelines of the World Health Organisation.

The tourism sector and political parties have already cried foul over the decision of the UK to impose a travel ban on South Africa.

Other countries in the European Union have indicated they will follow suit.

But Phaahla said this was unjustified and said there was nothing wrong done by South Africa to be slapped with a travel ban.

“We are aware that the announcement made by our scientists has created some consternation, panic and uncertainty. This is expected in this nature where we are dealing with a moving target.

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“We want to assure South Africans and the public some reaction has been unjustified. All we did with our scientists was to be in line with the norms and standards as prescribed by the World Health Organisation as the world community, in any challenges with the world as a whole we should act with transparency,” Phaahla said.

He said the scientists have found the changes in the makeup of the virus.

He said the scientists at no stage found that this variant was most the transmissible.

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He said South Africa did not deserve to be put on the travel ban and that the UK and other countries acted in haste.

The scientists have also said it is still too early to say how the virus will unfold, he said.

“I want to emphasise at this stage, as our scientists were reporting, at no stage did they say this virus is the most transmissible. They did emphasise that this is a very early stage on the specifics of how this virus will unfold,” Phaahla said.

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