WATCH | Dr Ayoade Olatunbosun-Alakija praised for this passionate clap back at travel bans
Dr Ayoade Olatunbosun-Alakija, co-chairperson of the Africa Union’s African Vaccine Delivery Alliance, has received praise online after she slammed the latest travel bans imposed on African countries.
Several countries have imposed restrictions amid fears about the new Covid-19 variant Omicron. It was first detected in SA last week using samples taken between November 14 and 16.
In a scathing interview with the BBC over the weekend, Olatunbosun-Alakija criticised western countries for denying access to travellers from African countries, including SA.
She said the world should have been prepared for a new and “inevitable” Covid-19 crisis.
“Had the first Covid-19 virus, the one first identified in China last year, originated in Africa it is clear the world would have locked us away and thrown away the key,” she said.
“There would have been no urgency to develop vaccines because we would have been expendable. Africa would have become known as the continent of Covid-19. What is going on is inevitable and is a result of the world’s failure to vaccinate in an equitable, urgent and speedy manner.”
She said the travel bans were based on politics and not science, saying the decisions were unacceptable.
“We knew this was a crossroads it was going to bring us to. It was going to bring us to a variant. It was going to bring us to more dangerous variants. Why are we acting surprised? Why are we locking away Africa when this virus is already on three continents?” she asked
“Nobody is locking away Belgium and Israel. Why are we locking away Africa? It is wrong and it is time our African leaders stand up and find their voice.”
In his address to the nation on Sunday, President Cyril Ramaphosa slammed travel bans as “unjustified and not informed by science”.
SA travellers have been banned from travelling to the UK, US, Seychelles, Japan, France, Singapore, Israel, India, Germany, Netherlands, Canada, Australia and the Philippines, among other countries.
“We are deeply disappointed by the decision of several countries to prohibit travel from a number of Southern African countries following the identification of the Omicron variant,” said Ramaphosa.
“This is a clear and completely unjustified departure from the commitment that many of these countries made at the meeting of G20 countries in Rome last month.
“These restrictions are unjustified and unfairly discriminate against our country and our Southern African sister countries. The prohibition of travel is not informed by science, nor will it be effective in preventing the spread of this variant.
“The only thing the prohibition on travel will do is to further damage the economies of the affected countries and undermine their ability to respond to, and recover from, the pandemic.
“We call on all those countries that have imposed travel bans on our country and our Southern African sister countries to urgently reverse their decisions and lift the ban they have imposed before any further damage is done to our economies and the livelihoods of our people,” he said.
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