I woke up this morning [Friday] to CNN announcing the United Kingdom has put South Africa on its so-called Red List for travel again, followed shortly afterwards by France, Germany, other EU countries, Israel, and now even Mauritius has reinstated its travel ban.
I was hit hard with all the bad memories of 18 months of hell for one of the industries that forms the backbone of South Africa’s economy.
We launched two hotels this week and I saw the smiles of the hundreds of newly employed members of The Capital family, beaming with positivity and hope for a new future, after months, if not years, of unemployment.
We were heading in the right direction.
And then the NICD announced that it had identified a new variant of Covid-19, that has since been dubbed the ‘Nu’ variant – followed quickly by inbound travel bans from countries from whom tourists were going to give our tourist industry a chance at survival this holiday season.
Variants are found in every country all over the world. Variant hunters analyse the data, check vaccine efficacy, and then announce if there is any concern. So WHY do our South African scientists have to take so much pride in finding variants and then announcing them so publicly, without first analysing vaccine efficacy?
Do they not understand that this fear mongering is directly taking food out of people’s mouths, with more than 300 000 overseas tourists now no longer able to come into South Africa and bring our travel and related industries back to life?
I’m certain that in just a week or two we will have the data that says that this new variant does not evade vaccines.
There have been several variants found to date, none of which evade vaccines, and there is still strong evidence to encourage everyone to be vaccinated.
I call for calm. Please can everyone just wait for a week or two to analyse the impact of this variant before jumping to conclusions and affecting the livelihoods of so many.
I also call on the Department of Health to stop this fear mongering and control our scientists who are brilliant in science, but who should be more cautious in communication.
We eagerly await the President’s well considered address, after his planned meeting with the NCCI on Sunday.
Marc Wachsberger is managing director of The Capital Hotels and Apartments.