Brazzaville: As a growing number of countries impose flight bans on southern African nations due to concerns over the new Omicron variant, World Health Organization (WHO) has urged countries to follow science and the International Health Regulations.
Flight bans have been imposed on southern African countries but so far only two have detected the new variant.
Meanwhile countries in other regions have reported cases of Omicron.
"With the Omicron variant now detected in several regions of the world, putting in place travel bans that target Africa attacks global solidarity. COVID-19 constantly exploits our divisions. We will only get the better of the virus if we work together for solutions," said Dr Matshidiso Moeti, WHO Regional Director for Africa, in a press release on Sunday.
"The speed and transparency of the South African and Botswana governments in informing the world of the new variant is to be commended. WHO stands with African countries which had the courage to boldly share life-saving public health information, helping protect the world against the spread of COVID-19," said Dr Moeti.
According to WHO, travel restrictions may play a role in slightly reducing the spread of COVID-19 but place a heavy burden on lives and livelihoods.
If restrictions are implemented, they should not be unnecessarily invasive or intrusive, and should be scientifically based, according to the International Health Regulations which is a legally binding instrument of international law recognized by over 190 nations.
"I urge all countries to respect their legal obligations and implement scientifically based public health actions. It is critical that countries which are open with their data are supported as this is the only way to ensure we receive important data in a timely manner," she said.