Members of the public are anxiously waiting to hear the outcome of today’s National Coronavirus Command Council (NCCC) meeting amid speculation of a pending hard lockdown.
The South African government has accused a number of countries of over-reacting following an increase in travel bans.
Eight countries, including South Africa, have been affected because of the new Omicron variant of the coronavirus which is threatening various sectors of the economy.
The Omicron variant was first discovered in South Africa and has since been detected in Belgium, Botswana, Israel and Hong Kong.
Meanwhile, the Tourism Business Council of South Africa CEO Tshifhiwa Tshivhengwa says that the announcement of the detection of the new variant will not help the already battered tourism industry.
“Every country in the world is announcing that they don’t desire anyone who is coming from the southern African region, and especially South Africa, being the hub of the region. So we are in a situation where it’s a freefall. The only thing we need to do is to protect the domestic market. We do have healthy bookings that are coming through to December and January, we need to protect those, and you know I’ve heard of the talks, possible bans that may be imposed here at home and we need to avoid those at all cost.”
President of BUSA Bonang Mohale and Acting CEO of South African Tourism, Sthembiso Dlamini on impact of new variant:
New York Governor declares state of emergency
The Governor of New York State in the United States has declared a state of emergency ahead of the potential arrival of the new COVID-19 variant Omicron in the country. The declaration, which takes effect on the third of next month, allows the state to better position itself for a possible wave of new infections. This includes increasing hospital capacity.
Governor Kathy Hochul issued her emergency declaration citing increasing infection rates and hospitalisations. It also allows the state’s health department to limit non-essential and non-urgent procedures while increasing hospital capacity.
Her statement also points to the state experiencing COVID-19 transmission rates not seen since April 2020. The move comes after US President Joe Biden issued a new proclamation restricting travel from several southern African countries including South Africa after the emergence of a new variant in the region.
The restrictions apply to non-citizens of the US who have been physically present in 8 southern African countries during a 14-day period preceding their attempted entry into the US.
UK’s PM on measures to prevent the spread
British Prime Minister Boris Johnson says that they need to take targeted and proportionate measures now. He was addressing the nation, following the detection of two Omicron variant cases in the UK. He says that scientists need to understand what they’re dealing with.
“Yesterday we took steps to protect the UK against the variant coming here from southern African countries and today we added 4 more countries to the red list. We now need to go even further and implement proportionate testing regime for arrivals from across the whole world. So, we’re not going to stop people from travelling but we will require anyone who enters the UK to take a PCR test by the end of the second day after their arrival. Measures that we’re taking today are temporary and precautionary and we will review them in 3 weeks.”
Germany detects Omicron variant
Officials in the western German state of Hesse say the Omicron variant of the coronavirus has probably arrived in the country.
This after, mutations were found in a passenger arriving from South Africa. The officials say the person is isolating. They have advised anyone who has travelled from South Africa in the last few weeks to limit contacts and get tested.
The city of Frankfurt’s health authority says it expects the results of a full sequencing on Monday.