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President Cyril Ramaphosa has called on all those countries that have imposed travel bans on South Africa and other Southern African countries to urgently reverse their decisions.

He urged them to lift the travel bans they have imposed before any further damage is done to the countries’ economies and to the livelihoods of people.

“There is no scientific justification for keeping these restrictions in place. We know that this virus, like all viruses, does mutate and form new variants,” said the President.

He was addressing the nation on Sunday evening on progress in the national effort to contain the COVID-19 pandemic, at the Union Buildings.

Earlier this week, South African scientists identified a new variant of the Coronavirus that causes the COVID-19 disease. The World Health Organisation has named the variant Omicron and has declared it a ‘variant of concern’.

The Omicron variant was first detected in Botswana and subsequently in South Africa, and scientists have also identified cases in countries such as Hong Kong, Australia, Belgium, Italy, the United Kingdom, Germany, Austria, Denmark and Israel.

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