Tag: variant

Source: MyBroadband

South Africa has 121 “major restrictions” and 97 “moderate restrictions’”from other countries in place because of the 501Y.V2 COVID-19 variant which is widespread in the country.

This was revealed by travel website Skyscanner which has developed a mapping tool that shows COVID-19 travel restrictions around the world.

The Skyscanner map uses data from the International Air Transport Association (IATA) and is regularly updated with the latest restrictions.

According to the Skyscanner map from Friday 26 March 2021, the following restrictions were in place:

  • 121 major restrictions – Travel here may be suspended, the country may be closed, or entry only possible if you are a citizen and/or meet strict requirements.
  • 97 moderate restrictions – Travel here is possible if you meet certain entry regulations which can include taking a COVID-19 test. You
  • may also be required to quarantine upon arrival and/or return.
    7 low restrictions – You can travel here and likely won’t need to quarantine when you arrive or return.

The map below shows major restrictions (red), moderate restrictions (orange), and low restrictions (green). Countries where the restrictions are unknown are presented in grey.

SA Flyer Magazine editor Guy Leitch said because the 501Y.V2 Covid-19 variant is commonly referred to as the “South African variant”, it attached a stigma to the country.

South Africa’s slow vaccine rollout is another aggravating factor. To date the country has only vaccinated 231,605 people, well below its own targets.

“It is no surprise at all that IATA describes us as one of the worst red-flagged countries in terms of international travel,” he said.

Although moderate restrictions allow for some travel, it has been shown that quarantine requirement stops travel in its tracks.

“We have seen draconian quarantine requirements put in place by many European countries. Most of them require at least a week in isolation,” he said.

Apart from the limits on South Africans travelling to other countries, international travellers to South Africa have also plummeted. This hit the local economy hard.

Travel and tourism contributed 7% to South Africa’s economy in pre-pandemic times and accounted for 1.5 million jobs.

This industry is under severe pressure and many hotels and other businesses have already closed down.

The local airline industry is also suffering because of limited local travel and far lower volumes of international travel.

“It is a great tragedy and it the damage caused to the local travel and tourism industry cannot be overestimated,” he said.

 

At a recent press conference held by Health Minister Dr Zweli Mkhize, the results of a Wits University and Oxford University study found that the AstraZeneca vaccine had reduced efficacy against the Covid-19 variant, 501Y.V2, found in South Africa. In trial participants, it only offered 22% protection for infections caused by the strain.

As a result, a temporary halt to the rollout of the AstraZeneca brand vaccine was announced. However, its usage in the country has not been completely ruled out.

Dr Anban Pillay, the health department’s director-general, has said that there are a number of options available in terms of the use of the vaccine that the government will be exploring.

  • About R120-million was spent in the procuring of the vaccines
  • The country paid between $5.25 (about R77) per dose
  • Procuring the vaccine directly from AstraZeneca or the Serum Institute of India costs R44.50 ($3) per dose
  • One million vaccines have already arrived in South Africa, while another 500 000 were set to arrive later this month

However, the vaccine may still be used if AstraZeneca rolls out an additional booster jab. It is believed to prevent severe cases of Covid-19, but not moderate to mild ones.

Professor Glenda Gray has said that if it can stop deaths and stop health facilities from being overrun, the vaccine should be given to high-risk patients.

The Young Nurses Indaba Trade Union (YNITU) said the government’s move to halt the roll-out proves what they have been saying all along.

“The efficacy of the vaccine against the new strain of Covid-19 is not proven, and the government’s rushed approach has resulted in taxpayers’ money being spent on a vaccine that is set to expire in April.

“The rushed manner in which this was carried out can only create more problems,” says YNITU President Lerato Mthunzi.

 

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