UN chief Guterres concerned about isolation of African countries


United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres in Nairobi. [Boniface Okendo, Standard]

United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres has voiced concerns over the isolation of the greater Southern region amid the emergence of the Omicron variant.

Guterres, in a statement Monday, said: “I'm deeply concerned about the isolation of southern African countries due to new COVID-19 travel restrictions.”

He held that the West is being unfair to ‘punish’ African countries for sharing health information on the new variant, that has taken the world by storm.

“The people of Africa cannot be blamed for the immorally low level of vaccinations available and should not be penalized for sharing health information with the world,” the UN chief said.

Guterres has appealed to governments to consider repeated testing for travelers, to allow for faster economic engagement and travel across the world.

Already, cases of the Omicron variant have been detected in the UK, Germany, Italy, Netherlands, Hong Kong, Italy, Belgium, Israel, Denmark, Austria, Czech Republic, Australia, Canada, and Portugal.

Omicron presents a large number of mutations which according to WHO poses great challenges to scientists.

The Omicron variant has high transmission rates, but it's not yet clear whether it's the fastest of all the other variants, especially Delta.

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