Day 611 – Travel

Twitter: “But it’s ridiculous! People are tested before they can travel!”

And yet, at Schipol…


South African Minister of Health: “Travel restrictions are unjustified”:

Also the South African Minister of Health: “We may restrict travel”:

Trump bans travel from parts of Africa this time last year. Joe Biden:


Today, Joe Biden announces ban on travel from parts of Africa:

I know, I know. Cheap shots. Low hanging fruit etc etc.

Maybe it’s just people called Joe…

But also massive hypocrisy and many clear indications that – almost 2 years into this whole mess – we (and by we, I mean politicians) haven’t come up with any decent methods of dealing with it. It’s all a bit scary.

Look, the likelihood is that this variant will be all over the world already. Just because it was only detected now, doesn’t mean it wasn’t already widely circulating.

But yes, I do support the bans: for the moment, at least.
Anything which buys any healthcare system any extra time – and therefore information – has to be used when we are dealing with new, unknown variants.

And then the political aspect, whereby the government has to be seen to be doing something. When BJ didn’t close the flights from India back in May, he lost a lot of credibility (yes, yes, I know) regarding the way the government was dealing with Covid.

People used it as a tool to avoid following guidelines: “Why should I bother if Boris is just letting the virus in anyway?”. I’ve said countless times during this whole thing that being a President or Prime Minister is not a job I’d want during a pandemic. Damned if you do, damned if you don’t. You are not going to please all of the people any of the time.

But then there’s an important caveat here: when the statistics, the information and the experts suggest that the limitations are not required, then they need to be lifted just as quickly as they were instituted. And that’s not an own goal; it’s not saying that they were wrong to put them into place in the first place: that’s acting on new information and data. Nothing wrong with that.
It must just happen as soon as some sort of all-clear is sounded, not 6 months down the line.

Day 610 – Nu

[The next day: Ugh. You do 500+ words on it and then they move the goalposts. As history will now tell you, we… they?… actually named this new variant: Omicron. Anyway, on with the post, which has generated anger and hate mail (n=1), but which I stand by. Take care out there.]

There was a tweet thread alongside the Worrying Numbers that I mentioned the other day. It was about a potentially nasty new variant that was causing some of the cases. It looked horrible, but the numbers were very small. The Guru mentioned it to me as well, with the same caveat.

The numbers aren’t so small now, though.

And so now we’re red-listed in the UK again – completely understandably, given the situation. Who wouldn’t want to try and keep this out of their country?

But it’s a hammer blow to the local tourist industry, it’s upsetting for friends and family who had plans for the December holidays, and it’s a real gut punch for us, who were expecting to see my Dad on Monday for the first time in two years.

Not now.

And then there is the other side of this that the UK Red List announcement has made everyone overlook: this is potentially a very ugly development in this awful pandemic, and we’re going to have to deal with it, because even if the UK’s swift action has stopped it spreading to there, we don’t have that luxury: it’s already right here.

So what happens next?
Watch this space, I guess.

UPDATE: Massive and predictable backlash on social media against the UK for reinstating the travel ban from SA and surrounds. And yes, as I said above, it’s horrific for the tourism industry here. And if you look at the respective numbers of cases in the UK and SA, then you might be forgiven for thinking there’s something not quite right with them banning us. But then you remember that they are 70% vaccinated, and so the cases that they are seeing are not translating to hospitalisations and deaths like they are in other countries with much lower vaccination rates. Because of that, they have the luxury of handling things very differently.

Oh, and add to that the fact that – at the time of writing – they have detected 0 Nu variant cases there.

And if there was ever a chance of keeping this variant that the experts are calling “grim”, “scary” and “a worst case scenario” out of your country, you’d surely want your government to do the same. You don’t get a second chance at this.
Will it work? Maybe. Maybe not. I’d guess that the chances are fairly high that it’s already there.
But if it isn’t, well, then their quick and decisive action – unpleasant as it may be for us here in SA – may just have saved literally thousands of lives.

Safety first makes sense here. There’s always the option to relax the restrictions as more information becomes available (obviously assuming that information suggests that you should relax the restrictions).
You can’t retrospectively close your borders.

Day 609 – On Shell

Here’s the story.

Right. Let’s just get my position out in the open at the start, shall we?

1. I appreciate the need to move away from fossil fuels.
2. I would love to have a simple, straightforward, economically viable way to not use fossil fuels anymore.
3. I would rather that Shell (or anyone else) were not doing seismic testing in the waters around South Africa.


We all use fossil fuels every day here in SA.
Our electricity here comes (when it comes) – overwhelmingly – from coal, diesel and gas.
Our cars use petrol, and if they did use electricity, then that electricity would come – overwhelmingly – from coal, diesel and gas.
Eskom chucks out about 18 million tons of CO2 each and every month.

We need to understand that the vast majority of this country has no choice but to use dirty fuels to live their lives. It would be great to change, but we can’t just switch that off: our power grid doesn’t work full stop, let alone work with clean or renewable sources of energy.
And we should certainly be trying to step away from fossil fuels, but as you are flinging around your hashtags and basking in the righteousness of your slacktivism, please remember that we need to get our energy and electricity from somewhere: someone has to provide it.

And why shouldn’t that be Shell? How do their seismic surveys and oil drilling habits differ from whoever’s powering your car today, as you “#BoycottShell” and go to Engen or Sasol or BP?

Do you know? Do you care? Or is it just about jumping on a conveniently passing (hopefully hybrid-powered?) bandwagon?

And if you are going to pop online and tell us how to live our lives, and which dirty oil company we should use over which other (I love the “tip the pump attendants” idea, by the way, lol!), then at least think before you post.

After all, nothing quite says “Leave our oceans alone” or #SaveOurOceans like a “cleverly” altered corporate logo and is that a picture of… er… a local sewage outflow…


Presumably you are boycotting your toilet as well, then? How’s that going for you?

Look, I’m not saying that a seismic survey off the East Coast is a good thing – I’d much rather it wasn’t happening, but as I noted above, that’s not really a tenable option right now.

But I have to say that this exceptionalism, hyperbole and misinformation around this one issue when numerous such surveys have happened around SA before and we’re all still here? Well, it’s weird, it’s misplaced, and it’s rather hypocritical given that we are all using products and services that rely on oil and gas each and every day.

Day 608, part 2 – Worrying numbers

This graph, depicting Covid vaccination percentages and death rates for EU countries has been doing the rounds.

It’s pretty self explanatory, and pretty damning.

While Covid cases across Europe are spiking at the moment, there are two important things to take into account when reviewing the data: firstly, many of the cases at the moment seem to be in unvaccinated children (more reason to vaccinate them and quash that reservoir), and secondly, the death rates from Covid – when compared to the first wave (prior to vaccinations) – are thankfully much lower.

While we don’t have any means of stopping Covid 100%, using vaccinations (and other measures) is making a difference, and it’s clear from looking at graphs like the one above that countries are saving literally hundreds of thousands of lives by having effective vaccination policies.

Sadly, SA isn’t going to be one of those countries.

Stick us into that graph above and we’re sitting next to bottom at 35%. And we’re going nowhere fast:

It’s really looks like we’ve just given up. And sadly, that attitude is probably going to have some dire consequences over next next few months.

I’m running out of ideas to get people to get vaccinated. If literally saving your life isn’t going to persuade people, I have no idea what will. Well, apart from trying to avoid another alcohol ban, perhaps.

UPDATE: Now, this:

Well, no surprises there, given the numbers above. What a complete disaster.