A statement by the South African foreign ministry on Saturday strongly criticised the travel bans.
“Excellent science should be applauded and not punished,” it said.
The bans were “akin to punishing South Africa for its advanced genomic sequencing and the ability to detect new variants quicker”.
The statement added that the reaction had been completely different when new variants were discovered elsewhere in the world.
An African Union official told the BBC developed countries were to blame for the emergence of the variant.
“What is going on right now is inevitable, it’s a result of the world’s failure to vaccinate in an equitable, urgent and speedy manner. It is as a result of hoarding [of vaccines] by high-income countries of the world, and quite frankly it is unacceptable,” said AU vaccine delivery alliance co-chair Ayoade Alakija.
“These travel bans are based in politics, and not in science. It is wrong… Why are we locking away Africa when this virus is already on three continents?
· Australia announced on Saturday that flights from South Africa, Namibia, Zimbabwe, Botswana, Lesotho, Eswatini, the Seychelles, Malawi, and Mozambique would be suspended for 14 days. Non-Australians who have been in those countries in the past two weeks are now banned from entering Australia
· Japan has announced that from Saturday, travellers from much of southern Africa will need to quarantine for 10 days and take a total of four tests during that time
· India has ordered more rigorous screening and testing for travellers arriving from South Africa, Botswana and Hong Kong
· Canada is barring all foreign nationals who have travelled through South Africa, Namibia, Zimbabwe, Botswana, Lesotho, Eswatini or Mozambique in the last 14 days?