Jennie Ridyard
2 minute read
29 Nov 2021
7:19 am

Omicron: Instead of praising SA scientists, the world goes mad

Jennie Ridyard

South African scientists identified the new Covid-19 strain, reported it and did everything by the book, but where's the praise?

Photo: iStock

Funny that – a week ago I was lamenting the arrival of the fourth wave of Covid-19 in Europe, with restrictions tightening, riots breaking out, and countries shutting down.

Then only days later, a new strain rears its spiky head – but in South Africa? I’m no conspiracy theorist, but it’s funny how SA was beetling along in the height of airy summer.

Its borders open to two-way traffic, its outlook brighter after being removed from foreign red lists weeks beforehand, already seeing an influx of sun-seeking, cash-splurging tourists for Christmas – and then…


Surge in Covid-19 cases

In a day, South African cases randomly surge from 200 to 2,000. Fear not though, good citizens, for our world-class scientists are on it like superheroes.

A-hah! Gotcha! They quickly identify a significant new variant. They report it, they do everything by the book.

But almost nobody says, “that’s good work, thank you for your diligence and excellence.”

Global reaction to Omicron

Instead, the world goes mad: There’s a new SA variant, they scream – not a variant first identified by the exceptional SA laboratories, but an actual South African variant.

Dirty, dirty, dirty! Batten down your hatches, lock your borders, because those naughty South Africans are at it again, mutating for a second time.

And yet, oddly, there are no new British variants, no European variants, no US variants, no Russian variants, no Chinese variants… even though now that they’re looking they’re finding sneaky omicron cases everywhere.

It’s so unfair, but then there’s nothing fair about Covid-19. I’m angry; we all are.

ALSO READ: Omicron: SA being ‘punished’ for ‘excellent science’, says Dirco

Lives disrupted

I’m angry because my mum and sister were due to spend their first-ever Christmas in Ireland with me, and now likely won’t.

I’m angry for the man I know fretting about getting back to his family in Cape Town after a British business trip.

I’m angry for the granny hurting because now her grandson won’t be visiting her in SA next week when it’s been two long years of yearning.

I’m angry with the scores of unvaccinated people making new variants increasingly likely.

There are so many aching hearts, so many hurting wallets: the businesses affected, the hotels, the employees, the shops, and the sad families, like mine.

I phone my mum. Don’t lose hope yet, I say rather hopelessly, but please, do stock up on booze.