Control of Omicron ‘should be based on facts, not fear’

The UK was among the least visited destinations by travellers southern African countries designated as most at risk due to the Omicron variant of Covid-19, new data reveals.

The study by flight ticketing data firm ForwardKeys shows which destinations were the most visited between November 1-23 from Botswana, Eswatini, Lesotho, Malawi, Mozambique, Namibia, South Africa and Zimbabwe.

Qatar and the UAE were the most visited each with 12% of travellers from the at-risk countries based on arrival numbers.

The UK and Ethiopia are next, each with 7%, followed by South Africa at 5%.

The top ten airport hubs most used by those travellers were Doha, with 22%; Addis Ababa, 15%; Dubai, 13%; Lusaka, 6%; Johannesburg, 6%; Nairobi, 6%; Frankfurt, 4%; Amsterdam, 3%; Paris, 3% and London Heathrow, 2%.

ForwardKeys claims the figures support calls from those objecting to immediate travel restrictions imposed on travel to and from the African countries.

Insights vice president Olivier Ponti said: “We are acutely aware of the dreadful damage done by Covid-19 to people’s health, but also of the damage done to countries’ economies by the measures governments have felt compelled to take in response to it.

“We believe that the best policies to control the spread of the virus should be based on facts, not fear; and if blanket bans on travel can be avoided, that must be a preferable strategy.

“Fortunately, travel data can help by telling policy-makers exactly where people from the at-risk areas went and where they connected.”

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