South Africa and the OMICRON variant
This new variant of Coronavirus, now named OMICRON, was identified and sequenced by South African scientists during the past week.
Let us cut to the core and look at some facts.
The UK government led on Friday morning with the panic fuelled knee-jerk decision to shut down travel to South Africa and its neighbours within hours of the news breaking of the existence of this new variant. The rest of the EU, the USA, Australia, and several other governments followed suit soon after. Probably because the politicians need to be seen to be taking some action – even the ludicrous actions such as this that have no justification and basis in science or medicine.
Punishing South Africa again
South Africa is again being punished because our scientists are the clever kids in the class! These travel bans instituted by the various countries are in total contravention of the commitments made by these very same nations at the G5 summit in Scotland barely one month ago. They had made the commitment to support the economies of Africa through keeping travel to Africa open and actively promoting the resurgence of travel.
The diagram below reflects the current locations of this Omicron variant as well as the countries affected by the travel bans.
Identifying the new variant
Dr Angelique Coetzee, chair of the South African Medical Association, is the person who initially recognized the different symptoms. She called the symptoms associated with the Omicron variant “different and so mild” compared with others she’d treated for the virus in recent months.
On Sunday, 28 November, Dr Coetzee was interviewed on the BBC’s Andrew Marr Show. Read the original Tweet. The doctor explains how she became aware of the new symptoms as well as how it presents clinically. She said “What we are seeing clinically in South Africa and remember, I’m at the epicentre, that’s where I’m practicing, is extremely mild,” in the interview this Sunday on the BBC’s “Andrew Marr Show.”
The South African Government is to be commended for the actions that they are taking in dealing with this new variant, Omicron. They recognize that we cannot exclude and avoid the virus. We must learn to LIVE WITH IT!
Life in South Africa will continue as normal. The Level 1 restrictions are maintained. This has a curfew from midnight to 04h00 and only limits gatherings both indoors and outdoors. Wearing of masks when in public is mandatory, hand sanitizing, and social distancing is required.
South Africa and the countries of Southern Africa remain open for tourism. All the prescribed Covid safety protocols are strictly applied and we have an abundance of fresh clean air. That is enemy number 1 for any virus.
We trust that the governments in the first-world countries will take note of all the clinical data around this Omicron variant as it is shared. Trust that they will recognize that their actions on Friday 26 November 2021 to impose travel bans were absolutely premature and without justification. Furthermore, we trust that they will recognize the immense damage that their hasty panic-driven decisions have caused to tourism and the African economies as a whole.
Collectively, we pray that these politicians will have the courage to swallow their pride and reverse the decisions to impose travel bans on the countries of Southern Africa.
At Africa Explore Safaris, we remain at your service and we look forward to hearing from you soon.