[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.
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.