South African President Cyril Ramaphosa said on Sunday that officials were considering making mandatory COVID-19 shots for people in some places and activities, as the rise of infections linked to a new variant neared a fourth wave.
But he said officials would not consider economic lockdown restrictions at the moment, and he slammed wealthy Western countries for imposing travel restrictions on their knees after hearing about the new version.
“If cases continue to rise, we can expect to enter a fourth wave of infections in the next few weeks,” Ramaphosa warned. Access to workplaces, public events, public transport and public establishments.”
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Scientists have so far detected only a relatively small number of new Omicron variants, mainly in South Africa but also in Botswana, Hong Kong and Israel. But they are concerned about its high number of mutations, which raised concerns that it could become more vaccine-resistant and transmissible.
South African officials are furious about the British ban on flights from southern African countries, which many other countries have followed suit. Many South Africans feel that they are being punished for their transparency and hard work in monitoring the way the virus is mutating.
“This is a clear and completely unwarranted departure from the commitment made by many of these countries at the G20 countries meeting in Rome last month,” Ramaphosa said.
“The prohibition of travel is not informed by science, nor will it be effective in stopping this type of spread. The only thing (this) … will further damage the economies of the affected countries and undermine their ability to respond to the pandemic.”
— Reporting by Promit Mukherjee