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Johannesburg [South Africa], December 6 (ANI/Sputnik): South African Ambassador to Australia Marthinus van Schalkwyk has slammed the travel bans on South Africa as discriminatory adding that if the Omicron variant was identified in Europe, restrictions would have not been imposed.

"We believe it is discrimination because the only difference is these countries are on the African continent [and] the others are not," Schalkwyk told ABC news.

On November 27, Australian Health Minister Greg Hunt said that the country will suspend air travel from nine Southern African countries which include Botswana, Eswatini, Lesotho, Malawi, Mozambique, Namibia, Seychelles, South Africa and Zimbabwe for two weeks amid the spread of the Omicron coronavirus variant.

Van Schalkwyk added that if the variant were to be discovered in a European country, Australia would not have imposed a travel ban.

The ambassador noted that the situation should be analyzed in terms of total positive COVID-19 cases rather than only on those linked to the Omicron variant and brought forth examples of other countries such as the United Kingdom which has been experiencing more COVID-19 cases than South Africa, however a travel ban on them was not imposed.

"The figures are not even comparable, in terms of deaths and in terms of total numbers," Schalkwyk added.

South African President Cyril Ramaphosa told reporters on Sunday that the country's hospital admissions are not on the rise, despite a jump in active COVID-19 cases triggered by the Omicron strain.

Omicron was marked as a variant of concern due to its high infection rates by the World Health Organization (WHO) prompting countries worldwide to enforce new travel restrictions. Since its discovery, the variant has been detected in 38 countries, WHO said on Friday. (ANI/Sputnik)

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