'Being punished for detecting new Covid strain': South Africa
Johannesburg: South Africa complained Saturday that it is being "punished" for detecting a new Covid-19 variant Omicron, media reports said.
The World Health Organization has termed a "variant of concern" and is more transmissible than the dominant Delta strain.
The decision by many countries to ban flights from southern Africa following the discovery of the variant "is akin to punishing South Africa for its advanced genomic sequencing and the ability to detect new variants quicker," the foreign affairs ministry said in a statement, reported AFP.
"Excellent science should be applauded and not punished," it said.
The ministry pointd out that other countries, too, have discovered new variants in the past.
"Each of those cases have had no recent links with Southern Africa, but the reaction to those countries is starkly different to cases in Southern Africa," it said.
Israel and Belgium announced after South Africa that they also had detected cases of Omicron.
Government insisted that South Africa's "capacity to test and its ramped-up vaccination programme, backed up by a world-class scientific community should give our global partners the comfort that we are doing as well as they are in managing the pandemic".