He called for the rollback of blanket travel bans imposed on southern African countries
Botswana President Mokgweetsi Masisi has said some of the four diplomats who tested positive for the Omicron variant of the coronavirus in the country were from Europe, calling for a rollback of blanket travel bans imposed on southern African countries. .
Omicron, labeled a variant of concern by the World Health Organization, has prompted many governments to impose restrictions on travel from southern Africa and take other measures to contain it.
Although it is still unclear where Omicron first appeared, on November 25, South Africa, followed by Botswana a day later, announced that they had detected a new variant whose mutations were different from the Delta dominant variant.
South Africa also complained of being punished for identifying the new variant early.
“It’s unnecessary and if you ask me, for lack of a better word, irresponsible,” Masisi said of the travel restrictions, speaking in an interview with CNN Thursday night.
“The diplomats came from a number of countries…and they went through a number of countries to get to Botswana.”
He refused to divulge their nationalities, saying only that “some went to Europe and some elsewhere”. Asked if some had come from Europe to Botswana, he replied “indeed”.
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Botswana said last week that the country was investigating certain mutations of the coronavirus which were discovered in four foreign nationals who were in the country on a diplomatic mission. Omicron was detected in diplomats who visited the country on November 7 and left on November 11.
The country has so far reported more than 20 cases of the new variant.
Presidential spokesman Batlhalefi Leagajang told Reuters on Friday that Masisi would not disclose the countries diplomats travel through, or their countries of origin, because “the virus should never be geopoliticized”.
Omicron has been reported in at least two dozen countries.