The South African government has complained that it is being punished instead of being applauded for discovering new covid-19 variant Omicron.
The country’s foreign ministry made the statement as countries around the world restrict travel from southern African countries as the variant spread.
The World Health Organization (WHO) said the new variant was being considered as “of concern” due to higher re-infection risk.
The new variant first reported to the WHO from South Africa has been detected in Botswana, Hong Kong and Israel.
Several cases have also been identified in the UK, Belgium, Germany and the Czech Republic.
Hundreds of passengers arriving in the Netherlands from South Africa are being tested for the new variant.
Dutch officials said 61 people on two KLM flights tested positive for Covid-19 and have been quarantined at a hotel near Amsterdam’s Schiphol airport while they have further tests.
The Netherlands is currently struggling with a record-breaking surge in cases with an extended partial lockdown expected to come into force on Sunday.
SA cries foul
A statement by the South African foreign ministry has strongly criticized the travel bans.
“Excellent science should be applauded and not punished,” it said.
The SA government said the bans were “akin to punishing South Africa for its advanced genomic sequencing and the ability to detect new variants quicker”.