UK ambassador told to shut up

Social commentators have lambasted the UK High Commissioner to Malawi for UK’s discriminatory treatment of its former colony.

The UK lists Malawi among Covid-19 red list countries despite Malawi having a low positivity rate and administering vaccine donated by various countries, including the UK.

UK High Commissioner to Malawi, David Beer, said in a statement yesterday that Malawi remains on the UK red list.

People wo have been in a red list country over the past 10 days are not allowed to enter the UK.  British or Irish nationals as well as those with residential rights are allowed to enter but are required to quarantine in a managed hotel for 10 days regardless of vaccination.

Beer said the British High Commission is working with the Malawian Ministry of Health on publication and sharing of data on genomic sequencing of Covid-19 in Malawi in relation to Covid-19 variants profile.

He added that the UK is also committed to establishing a system to recognize other countries’ vaccine certificates.

“This takes time though. The UK has a phased approach and has so far recognized vaccine certificates for travel from around 50 countries. We are working hard to continue to expand this list,” said Beer in a statement posted on UK in Malawi Facebook page.

Social commentators have, however, expressed anger over the continued red listing of Malawi.

Epidemiologist Titus Divala faulted Beer’s arguments, saying that the leading Covid-19 variant in both the UK and Malawi is delta and that transmission risk, as judged by positivity rate, is lower in Malawi than it is in UK.

“Sequencing capacity and population vaccination coverage will always be lower in Malawi and Africa vs your preferred countries, what a convenient choice of targets!

“If I were you, I would have just shut up, OR if I still wanted to issue a memo I would have admitted that I have failed to convey the Malawi epidemic status in the best interest of Malawians. But well, UK is sovereign and can choose who to call a true friend,” said Divala

On the UK in Malawi Facebook page, commenters said the restriction against Malawi seems like discrimination considering that people vaccinated with vaccine donated by the UK are being banned from entering the UK.

Imogen Steuart-Feilding said: “This feels like pure discrimination to me. Do you demand genomic sequencing from all the countries in west Africa too that never went on the red list?

“I am double vaccinated in Malawi. I am happy to quarantine at home in the U.K. I find it ridiculous that we should be made to do hotel quarantine when infection rates and death rates in the U.K. are sky high in comparison.”

While Charlotte Makanga: “As a UK citizen I am still not clear at all why Malawi is on the red list. I understand the lack of genomics, however the infection rate is low and lower than that of many other countries including the UK. It simply does not equate and is horrendous for those desperate to see loved ones (as in our case). WHEN will this change? To those of us looking at this it is harsh and unfair”

Commenters also pointed out that a UK MP visited Malawi for five days and then return to the UK without having to quarantine and that a delegation for Malawi travelled to the UK in July without being asked to quarantine.

Malawi currently has 5,425 active cases and a positivity rate of 4.1 percent. The country has fully vaccinated 483,685 people.

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