Citizen Reporter
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3 minute read
28 Nov 2021
5:30 am

Daily news update: Chaos at O.R. Tambo as tourists leave SA, Summer cup

Citizen Reporter

Here’s your morning news update: An easy-to-read selection of our top stories. Stay up to date with The Citizen – More News, Your Way.

Travellers queue at a check-in counter at OR Tambo International Airport in Johannesburg on November 27, 2021, after several countries banned flights from South Africa following the discovery of a new Covid-19 variant Omicron. Picture: Phill Magakoe / AFP

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Travel ban: Chaos at O.R. Tambo as tourists scramble to leave SA

Travellers who have been left stranded after a slew of countries banned flights from South Africa on Friday, amid concerns about a new coronavirus variant, are now jumping through hoops to leave.

They filled airport cafes on Saturday, sipping cappuccinos, while frantically phoning their embassies and travel agents.

Many are seeking tickets to fly via other African nations such as Ethiopia and the Democratic Republic of Congo – which have not yet blacklisted South Africa – while navigating complex last-minute Covid-19 testing requirements.

Omicron: Everything we know about the new COVID variant so far

Since early in the COVID pandemic, the Network for Genomics Surveillance in South Africa has been monitoring changes in SARS-CoV-2. This was a valuable tool to understand better how the virus spread. In late 2020, the network detected a new virus lineage, 501Y.V2, which later became known as the beta variant. Now a new SARS-CoV-2 variant has been identified – B.1.1.529. The World Health Organization has declared it a variant of concern, and assigned it the name Omicron.

Hunting for variants requires a concerted effort. South Africa and the UK were the first big countries to implement nationwide genomic surveillance efforts for SARS-CoV-2 as early as April 2020.

Variant hunting, as exciting as that sounds, is performed through whole genome sequencing of samples that have tested positive for the virus. This process involves checking every sequence obtained for differences compared to what we know is circulating in South Africa and the world. When we see multiple differences, this immediately raises a red flag and we investigate further to confirm what we’ve noticed.

Fortunately South Africa is well set up for this. This is thanks to a central repository of public sector laboratory results at the National Health Laboratory Service, (NGS-SA), good linkages to private laboratories, the Provincial Health Data Centre of the Western Cape Province, and state-of-the-art modelling expertise.

Summer Cup meeting postponed to Tuesday

The Gauteng Summer Cup race meeting at Johannesburg’s Turffontein racecourse on Saturday was postponed to Tuesday due to thunderstorms and persistent heavy rain.

The entire programme, including the Grade 1 R2-million main event – Johannesburg’s premier horse race – and five supporting features, will replace a planned Vaal racecourse fixture on the schedule.

The Vaal meeting has been abandoned.

Summer Cup postponed
Saturday’s Summer Cup meeting at Turffontein has been postponed to Tuesday. Picture: Sydney Seshibedi/Gallo Images

Is Miss SA Lalela Mswane already in Israel for the Miss Universe pageant?

Newly crowned Miss South Africa (Miss SA) Lalela Mswane is set on attending the 70th Miss Universe competition in Israel. This despite mounting pressure from politicians and citizens calling on her, and other beauty queens, to boycott the pageant.

The South African government publicly withdrew its support for the Miss South Africa pageant earlier in November.

Both Lalela and The Miss SA organisation have been refusing to buckle under the pressure, with the organisation continuing to show their support for Lalela to attend the Miss Universe competition.

Is Miss SA Lalela Mswane already in Israel for the Miss Universe pageant?
Picture: Instagram | Miss South Africa

Second woman jumps to her death at Sandton City Mall

The identity, age and gender of the individual have not been released yet, and information surrounding the suicide is still scarce as The South African Police Service are currently investigating the incident.

woman commits suicide at Sandton City mall
Sandton City mall. Image: iStock