The United States praised South Africa on Saturday for quickly identifying the latest coronavirus variant, omicron, and sharing this information with the world.
Secretary of State Antony Blinken spoke with South Africa's international relations and cooperation minister, Naledi Pandor, and they discussed cooperation on vaccinating people in Africa against COVID-19, the State Department said in a statement.
"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," the statement said.
First detected in South Africa, the omicron variant of the coronavirus that causes COVID-19, was deemed by the World Health Organization a “variant of concern” on Friday.
Earlier Saturday, Pandor’s office issued a statement saying that the country is being punished for detecting the new variant as more countries rush to enact travel bans and restrictions.
By Saturday, more than a dozen countries had announced temporary travel restrictions on South Africa and other countries in the region after cases were reported in Europe and the Middle East.