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 309 – Vaccines: it’s complicated

Who’d be a politician? Not me.

There are very few decisions that you will ever make that will make the people happy. Some of the people, sure. But not all of them.
When you do the wrong thing, they’ll jump all over you and when you do the right thing, they won’t acknowledge it because it should have been done sooner, or later, or in a different way.

And when you add Covid to the situation, then it becomes an even messier boiling pot of piss. Lockdown, don’t lockdown, lockdown but sooner, lockdown but more lightly, lockdown but let the pubs serve scotch eggs; close the borders but leave them open; protect the teachers but don’t close the schools.

And once you’ve messed all that up, you can get onto the vaccine issue.

Now, without saying that they are perfect in any way, I think that the UK government seems to have done rather well on the vaccine stuff. They ordered early and have thankfully avoided the complete mess that the EU has made of the whole thing:

The latest figures from Our World in Data reveal that just 2.1% of the EU population has received a vaccine, compared with 10.8% for the UK. The goal to vaccinate at least 70% of the EU’s population by this summer is wildly off – at the current pace, the bloc as a whole would reach only 15% by the end of September.

But guess who’s fault that EU mess is?

Well, apparently it’s the UK’s, because they ordered the vaccine that the EU wanted, but they had their ducks in a row and they ordered it earlier. It’s like the lazy guy who only woke up at 10:58 blaming you for grabbing the last Sausage and Egg McMuffin.

But no, let’s ignore our own ugly shortfalls and find another scapegoat. Deflecting the blame is such a politician thing.

Happily, Boris is having none of it:

While the finger pointing on the continent continued, Prime Minister Boris Johnson avoided being drawn on any potential impact of the dispute on UK vaccine supplies.

The UK has made money available for other countries to get vaccines, too. But read the papers and the pixels and all you see is criticism. And I think that’s a little unfair in this situation.

Because apparently, the UK is one of those “hoarding” vaccine:

South African President Cyril Ramaphosa on Tuesday urged wealthy countries not to hoard surplus COVID-19 vaccine supplies, adding his voice to calls for global production to be shared more equally.

But we in SA could also have had a successful programme in place, were it not for the fact that we only started negotiating with vaccine suppliers on January 6th. And were it not for the fact that at least some of the R500 billion war chest to deal with Covid hadn’t made its way into the pockets of corrupt government officials and towards failed SOEs.

But no, let’s ignore our own ugly shortfalls and find another scapegoat. Deflecting the blame is such a politician thing.

Meanwhile:

Britain said on Sunday (Jan 10) it has helped raise US$1 billion from global donors towards the drive to help “vulnerable countries” access coronavirus vaccines, by match-funding contributions.

The UK said, in addition, it has committed 548 million pounds to the Covax Advance Market Commitment (AMC), after matching with 1 pound every US$4 pledged by other donors.

I mean, it’s not bad, is it? You can’t really say that they’re not helping out. And sure, one could argue that they are a rich country and so on, but one could also find plenty of space for that sort of money within the UK, especially given the pandemic.

And yes, many countries (including the UK and those in the EU) have ordered more vaccines than they need, simply because they didn’t know which vaccines would work and which wouldn’t. And sure, they’re lucky to be able to hedge their bets in that way, but you can rest assured that any spares (and hopefully those orders all come through and there will be spares) will be redistributed through Covax. Just like Cyril wanted.

That’s… er… the same Covax that the SA government missed the deadline to pay and join, by the way.

There’s good news too, though. Maybe SA can take up Tanzania’s share of vaccines, because Tanzania’s president is still relying on the dual therapy of [checks notes] steam inhalation and God:

“We will also continue to take health precautions including the use of steam inhalation,” he said.

“You inhale while you pray to God, you pray while farming maize, potatoes, so that you can eat well and corona fails to enter your body. They will scare you a lot, my fellow Tanzanians, but you should stand firm.”

And, to be fair, that approach does seem to working, given that they haven’t had any cases of Covid since last July.

Mainly because they stopped testing for it then. And as U2 told us, you can’t find what you’re not still looking for*.

Without giving any evidence, Magufuli said vaccines may be part of a foreign plot to steal Africa’s wealth.

“Vaccines are not good. If they were, then the white man would have brought vaccines for HIV/AIDS,” Magufuli said during the opening of a new farm in his western home region.

Sure. And quite possibly a cure for stupid, as well.

 

 

* or some such, anyway

Day 245, part 2 – More Covid things that won’t work

Western Cape Premier Alan Winde is asking the local public to just follow some very simple guidelines and rules:

The virus is not gone but will be with us over the holidays and beyond. Therefore, we need to remain safe and protect each other…

…in order to slow down the spread of coronavirus.

That plan that clearly won’t work because no-one ever follows the rules in South Africa.

But then we bring you news from The Homeland, where the government is asking people to:

use their common sense

…when planning family gatherings and Christmas parties.

And that plan that clearly won’t work because no-one in the UK has any common sense.

 

People (sometimes rightly) complain when a government steps in with draconian rules and regulations, but if we’re absolutely honest, when things are left up to the general public, it’s almost always utterly crap and if that happens with this second wave, it’s going to result in a massive disaster both here and there.

Day 239 – Expert opinion

Today was (not quite) Black Friday (thanks, AnitaB) and so I either need to gush about the amazing deals I got on a fridge and an air-fryer or lament the sociaital disaster that is rampant consumerism (but perhaps also sneak in the air-fryer).

Sky News spoke to 90s pop stars Right Said Fred (you may remember them from their songs I’m too Sexy and Deeply Dippy) (but hopefully not) about their views on the UK coronavirus lockdown, and while everyone is fully entitled to their views on the UK coronavirus lockdown, is it unfair of me to suggest that Sky News that Sky News find some experts in the field, rather than some bald 90s has-beens who are actually just trying to punt their latest dreadful musical offering?

Would I want to know the opinion of some epidemiological authority on crappy pop music from the end of the last millennium?

No.

So why on earth are we listening to the Fairbrass brothers about UK pandemic policy?

Day 71, part 2 – Moved

After 8 years of occasional bliss, overnight – while you were sleeping – 6000 miles… moved from South Africa to a new home amongst the bright lights of London town. The Big Smoke, innit.

Not me, obviously. I’m still here. Like I could get a flight anyway. Like I’d go to London anyway.

No: the blog. Away from Afrihost, and hopefully away from all the recent problems from which it has been suffering, and off to a new, more professional, much-recommended host.

The address remains the same. Do not point your browsers elsewhere. 

I cannot thank The Guru enough for his monumental efforts and extreme patience in sorting this out for me. From dealing with the slings and arrows of outrageous coding, through to taking  arms against a sea of well… actual troubles; and by opposing them, still having to deal with me and my lack of technological knowhow.

I am very grateful, and as soon as Level 5 lockdown is rescinded again in Cape Town, there will be wine.

In the meantime, please enjoy the new, faster, more streamlined and still every bit as poorly written offerings on here.