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UK to Lift Namibia Travel Ban

The UK is to drop 11 African countries, including Namibia, from its "red list" barring incoming travel, ministers said Tuesday after sustained criticism from world leaders.

From 04h00 on Wednesday, all will be removed from the list, said that country's transport secretary Grant Shapps.

During a Covid-19 briefing at State House yesterday, President Hage Geingob applauded the move but rhetorically asked if the UK government will now apologise.

The UK government had responded to the identification of the Omicron variant by South African scientists by banning travel from 10 southern African countries and Nigeria on Friday 26 November.

Currently, only people who are British or Irish citizens or have UK residence rights can fly in from the red-listed countries, and they have to quarantine in hotels on arrival.

"As always, we keep all our travel measures under review, and we may impose new restrictions should there be a need to do so to protect public health," Shapps tweeted.

Health minister Sajid Javid also announced the measure to MPs in parliament, as Prime Minister Boris Johnson seeks their backing for his new restrictions to curb the spread of Omicron.

Javid said the travel ban was being lifted because it is "now less effective in slowing the incursion of Omicron from abroad".

The ban has provoked wide criticism and even ridicule from international leaders, organisations and celebrities.

Last week the African Union called for an urgent end to travel restrictions imposed on some of its member states, saying the measures effectively penalise governments for timely data sharing in line with international health regulations.

The measures act "as a disincentive for information sharing in the future, potentially posing a threat to health security on the continent and globally," the AU said in a statement.

During a state visit to Senegal South African president Cyril Ramaphosa last week said, "as African countries we reject what the UN Secretary-General has rightly described as travel apartheid.

Countries should not advance their interests at the expense of others. This is a global pandemic and it warrants cooperation, not the isolation and punishment of certain countries."

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