A world where no headlines are mentioning COVID or any of its new variants is one that seems so far away, despite the return to normality that most countries have seen. The world has experienced a shared crisis over the last couple of years thanks to the unprecedented emergence of COVID in late 2019.
Since then, people from nearly all walks of life would have been affected in some way. Whether this was due to illness, job insecurity or anxiety, the reality is that very few would have been unscathed.
However, faced with a common enemy, the human race was able to band together to develop a vaccine in record time and was able to sow the seeds that would lead to us returning to the lives we knew before the virus.
Enter Omicron, a variant of the virus that’s even more transmissible than the infamous delta variant. Suddenly, the world has plunged into yet another panic, with many countries once again considering lockdowns and even banning certain countries from their travel lists.
Once again, where the world had once banded together, clear divisions have been sown. This is the kind of thinking behind the president of Malawi, who has gone so far as to say that the travel restrictions placed on African countries like Malawi are an example of Afrophobia, the fear of African culture and people.
The Malawi president joins other African leaders who have responded to the travel restrictions set by countries like the United States in condemnation. With this new variant, the whole world is once again threatened and people will be no doubt resorting to the things that they love doing amid this bleak news. The latest New York gambling laws will appease those who like to play games for money and may see some people through the time to come.
When context is given on this issue, the criticism of African leaders may make sense too. Experts in virology have already warned that travel restrictions at this point are probably too late to be effective given the rate at which this virus can spread. Given this, the travel restrictions placed on African countries do not make much sense at all.
In fact, by imposing these restrictions on these countries, African leaders argue that foreign governments are placing much of the blame for this new variant on these African countries.
This is especially frustrating for those countries who were quick to come forward with information on Omicron, as it presents a real risk for much of the world. This is in comparison with other countries like China, which actively tried to control the virus within its borders before realising too late that this was an impossible task.
Those who live in Malwai will know that their president, Lazarus Chakwera, came forward publicly on Facebook condemning the decisions of other countries to place Malawi on their travel restrictions list. He said, “the unilateral travel bans now imposed on countries by the UK, EU, US, Australia, and others are uncalled for. Covid measures must be based on science, not Afrophobia”.