American based Zimbabwean doctor lashes out at countries that imposed travel bans against some countries in SADC .

United States of America (USA) based Zimbabwean doctor, Dr. Matifadza Hlatywayo Davis described decision to ban immigrants from the SADC region after the discovery of a new COVID mutant, Omicron, as xenophobic. After Omicron was discovered there was unusual panic the world over since it was feared the mutant could be more deadly than those discovered before. With the highest number of COVID 19 dearths America was among the first countries to ban immigrants from some countries in the SADC region.

Dr Hlatywayo, who is the director of Health in the city of St Louis in the American state of Missouri has vast knowledge and experience in infectious diseses. 

Speaking to Al Jazeera, Doctor Hlatywayo said the travel bans that targetted South Africa and other Southern African countries are unacceptable and perpetuates stigma and xenophobia against the targeted states.

“…when done in this way all they can do is perpetuate stigma and xenophobia”, Hlatywayo said.

Dr Hlatywayo said after the variant was discovered by a Botswana based Zimbabwean scientist, Sikhulile Moyo with his team, it only pointed to excellent science in the region and says nothing about where the variant originated.

“…After this variant was isolated by Dr. Sikulile Moyo, a Zimbabwean scientist based in Botswana, that says nothing about where it originated, it just mean that is where this superior science was done, the ability to use genomic sequencing was done”, Dr Hlatywayo retorted.

Dr Hlatywayo went on to say South Africa did the right thing by being open enough to announce the new mutant soon after its discovery as it showed efficient use of superior science to make life saving discoveries and so slapping the country together with seven other African countries with travel bans was unacceptable.

“This is what countries are supposed to do, be transparent, use superior science to be able to let the world know what is going on- and then for South Africa and seven of the African countries to be targeted with travel bans with countries that we know right now have the same variant is completely unacceptable to me”, said Hlatwayo.

Dr Hlatywayo also said the travel bans exposed mistrust which may explain the  global vaccine inequity we always think of as a supply issue.

Hlatywayo also said that such behavior betrays segregation and that shows we still have a long way to go to develop global mutual trust.

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