BASSETERRE, St. Kitts -- PRIME MINISTER Dr. Timothy Harris has announced that the government will not implement any travel restrictions on flights or individuals from SouthAfrica or southern African nations at this time.
That is said based on recommendations from local health officials who are being guided by the announcement made by the World Health Organization (WHO).
“The WHO does not support travel bans at this particular time and it has advised that the travel bans that are in place are unlikely to stop the spread of the variant. Of course, we see that although it was reported in South Africa, it has now found itself elsewhere and it has been reported in at least 22 other countries, including Canada and the United Kingdom,” Dr. Harris said while addressing Parliament this morning.
The new variant was first announced by South Africa last week, but is believed to have been found in the Netherlands earlier. The discovery has prompted many countries to ban flights and individuals who would have travelled to those nations within the last 14 days.
Several Caribbean territories, including Jamaica, the Bahamas and Trinidad and Tobago have taken a similar approach. However, that restriction has not been placed on European nations just yet..
“Our health team has advised that it is not necessary at this time to impose a travel ban on South Africa or on the South African countries. We will follow what the WHO prescribed in place of travel bans,” he added.
Against that backdrop, the prime minister reiterated his call for persons to get vaccinated, especially those who are deemed as frontline workers.
“We want to encourage everyone who is able to, to get himself or herself vaccinated. We want to repeat our appeal to those who are on the frontline... anyone whether in the public or private sector engaged in frontline activity, however defined,” Dr. Harris said.
The Omicron Variant is said to be more transmissible and as such has been described by the WHO as “Variant of Concern”.
Despite experts pleading to not panic, countries and health officials have expressed concerns following the disclosure that there are more than 30 mutation found on the spike protein of the variant.