Dirco wants compensation from UK for economic damage done by Omicron travel ban

Last month, the UK banned travel to a number of African countries after South African scientists became the first to identify and sequence the Omicron variant.

International Relations and Cooperation Minister Naledi Pandor addressed the media in Pretoria on 14 December 2020. Picture: @SAgovnews/Twitter

JOHANNESBURG - South Africa's Department of International Relations wants the UK to compensate South Africa for economic damage done by the travel ban.

Last month, the UK banned travel to a number of African countries after South African scientists became the first to identify and sequence the Omicron variant.

The move was widely condemned as illogical and unscientific.

The British High Commissioner to South Africa Antony Phillipson has acknowledged the UK's decision to slap South Africa on the red list has caused damage.

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However, Phillipson is insisting it was all based on science, in the best interest of public health and that it was not personal.

But what if another new variant is discovered, will the UK impose a new travel ban again?

Phillipson said the countries must now focus on working together to mitigate the risks.

“We have to stay vigilant; we have to stay engaged. I think there’s be a huge amount of work done between South Africa and the UK over the last two weeks on the risks this variant poses to us together.”

The International Relations Department's Clayson Monyela said the damage has been done and South Africa should be compensated.

“Are you going to compensate us, because it has now been proven that the travel curb was wrong.”

Many people have had to cancel their Christmas plans due to the travel ban imposed on South Africa and might not be able to find a flight or money to rebook even now that South Africa has been removed from the red list.