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'Putting SA back on red list premature, it doesn't keep variants out'

26 November 2021 1:39 PM
Tags:
UK red travel list
new COVID-19 variant

Prof Alex Van Den Heever of Wits School Of Governance speaks to Ray White about the latest Covid-19 variant and the UK decision.
  • 'Closing the borders is not going to keep it out of those countries. It's going to get there no matter what,' says Prof Van den Heever.
  • He says it is more important to understand it and manage it with normal non-pharmaceutical interventions and vaccinations.

© drmicrobe/123rf.com

Italy and Germany have joined the UK in placing South Africa as well as Botswana, Eswatini, Lesotho, Namibia, and Zimbabwe on their travel red lists as concerns about the new Covid-19 variant called B.1.1.529 reported in these African countries grows.

RELATED: More countries join UK in banning South Africans after Covid-19 variant found

RELATED: South Africa back on UK's travel red list after new variant detected

Ait flights have been grounded as of 2pm Friday.

Is this travel ban by the UK, Italy, and Germany premature?

I think they have been [premature] because I don't think this really keeps variants out - but it is also an expected reaction in the absence of a more informed approach.

Prof Alex van den Heever, Chair Social Security Systems Administration and Management Studies - Wits School of Governance

The difficulty now is really knowing what to do now that the damage has already been done once you start to cancel flights and impose border restrictions it takes a while to get them removed.

Prof Alex van den Heever, Chair Social Security Systems Administration and Management Studies - Wits School of Governance

Not enough is known yet about the new variant he adds.

It is unlikely it will completely escape the vaccines, but that is really what people are reacting to.

Prof Alex van den Heever, Chair Social Security Systems Administration and Management Studies - Wits School of Governance

He says the commitment from the UK government to open communication channels with South Africa is important.

It is important to get the discussions going but I don't think it is a very coherent response - but the problem now is it is not just the UK, apparently, the EU has also advised to close the borders to South Africa - so it is now becoming pretty much a disaster.

Prof Alex van den Heever, Chair Social Security Systems Administration and Management Studies - Wits School of Governance

With South Africa not yet in the grip of a fourth wave, so 'the faster we get a grip on what this variant is all about the better,' he says, and engage concertedly and directly with both the European Union and the United Kingdom to address this issue.

Closing the borders is not going to keep it out of those countries. It's going to get there no matter what. It is going to be everywhere so it is about understanding it and managing it with normal non-pharmaceutical interventions and vaccinations.

Prof Alex van den Heever, Chair Social Security Systems Administration and Management Studies - Wits School of Governance

Regarding the impending fourth wave in South Africa, Van den Heever says as in the past waves the concern is hospitals and the healthcare system becoming overwhelmed.

The vaccines may impact on severe illness and eath but not enough people have got vaccinated.

Prof Alex van den Heever, Chair Social Security Systems Administration and Management Studies - Wits School of Governance

It is very unfortunate that people have not come forward to be vaccinated. Many of the vaccination sites are standing empty at the moment and yet people are placing themselves, other people, and the system at risk. it is absolutely scandalous.

Prof Alex van den Heever, Chair Social Security Systems Administration and Management Studies - Wits School of Governance



26 November 2021 1:39 PM
Tags:
UK red travel list
new COVID-19 variant

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