Day 643 – Lancet Covid Editorial

This is from a couple of weeks ago (and this post was written a few days ago), so maybe everything’s already been sorted now, but in the unlikely event that it hasn’t, this: [or PDF]

The challenge now is to determine the level of COVID-19 that is acceptable for individual nations in a fundamentally interconnected world.

Indeed.

A good overview of what we’ve done and what we need to do, but no real answers here, besides the “politicians must do better” plan. But we’ve kinda been hoping for that for a number of years now and it hasn’t quite materialised.

Weird.

Day 633 – It me

Spotted yesterday, this:

If you look at how other people gained their super powers: getting nibbled by a radioactive spider, being born on Krypton or having shedloads of cash and a cave under your mansion (is this right? – Ed.), most superheroes have had it fairly easy.

I haven’t had a spider bite, I was born on earth and I don’t have a mansion or a cave. So it looks like I’ll have to go via this route. And looking back at the last 5 months of my life, I would absolutely argue that this so-called “super immunity” – if I even have it – is absolutely not worth the effort.

I can’t even fly.

Rubbish.

Day 629, part 2 – Red list lifted

I’m still mildly bemused by the exceptionalism shown to the UK regarding the recent travel red list. (I mean, I’m not really, we know that everyone loves to hate the Brits, but still…)

Sure, you can say that it was unscientific, unjustified or whatever (as if those are the only arguments that count here), but no-one seems to be chastising Chile or Italy or Oman or Singapore or the UAE or Panama or Uzbekistan or Canada or (weirdly) Rwanda (I know, right?) for stopping incoming Saffas and visitors to SA from… well… coming in.

And now that the UK (at the time of writing) has opened up again, while many of the the other countries (and there are almost 70 of them!) are still banning travel from SA, there still seems to be this latent whining at the UK, rather than any outrage at or pressure on other countries to follow their lead.

Odd.

We now know a lot more about Omicron – and while the news (tentatively) seems to be pretty good – when the UK and everyone else added SA to their red list, no-one had any idea how nasty or otherwise it might be (it didn’t even have a name back then!), and the UK had detected no cases there. What I wrote a couple of weeks ago still stands:

That “more information” did become available, and the UK has acted timeously on it. Of course I’m sorry that SA lost out on tourism business for three weeks. I know it’s crap. The last 2 years have been crap for all of us. Omicron was out of anyone’s control (and it’s still wildly out of everyone’s control!), and there will be other variants in the future which will probably result in new restrictions and limiting travel. It’s not anyone’s fault.

I know how much the tourist industry needs a good season right now, but as far as I’m aware, the UK (or anywhere else for that matter) has no obligation to send a quota number of tourists here each year. And I’m not a business person, but to me, seemingly relying on a single nation to prop up your tourist industry seems like a worryingly risky approach.

If this was really just about the tourist thing and the stigma of being on a red list, then it does seem as if local social media and news sites should move on now from their… er… “unjustified, unscientific and irrational” stance, and start pressurising the likes of Aruba, Gabon and Kuwait (oh, and “Germany, the US, France and the Netherlands”, obviously) to allow travellers from SA back into their countries rather than pointlessly continuing to chastise the UK.

Really weird that that’s not happening.

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.