by TINTSWALO BALOYI
JOHANNESBURG – THE United States has praised South Africa’s transparency in disclosing the new variant of the coronavirus (COVID-19).
It is rare praise for the African country after it felt “punished” for reporting the variant now named Omicron (B.1.1.529).
On Saturday, Antony Blinken, the US Secretary of State, spoke with South African Minister of International Relations and Cooperation, Naledi Pandor, days after the outbreak was detected.
Ned Price, the US Department of State spokesperson, confirmed the conversation between the two officials.
“Secretary Blinken specifically praised South Africa’s scientists for the quick identification of the Omicron variant and South Africa’s government for its transparency in sharing this information, which should serve as a model for the world,” Price said.
Blinken and Pandor emphasised the importance of continued partnership among the US, the African Union (AU), South Africa, and the other impacted nations in Africa to help vaccinate populations and combat the impacts of COVID-19.
“The Secretary (Blinken) expressed appreciation for the longstanding public health cooperation between the United States and South Africa,” Price said.
The US is the country worst impacted by the COVID-19 in the world, with more than 49 million cases, including 799 276 deaths as of Saturday.
South Africa has the most severe outbreak in the continent, with 89 791 deaths from over 2,958 million cases.
South Africa on Saturday lambasted some countries for implementing travel bans as akin to punishing the country for its advanced genomic sequencing and the ability to detect new variants quicker.
“Excellent science should be applauded and not punished,” South Africa’s Department of International Relations and Cooperation stated.
– CAJ News