The African Tourism Board Chairman Cuthbert Ncube said: ” Our travel and tourism industry was in the process for a slow recovery. We feel those that closed borders to Southern Africa must reopen them as fast as they were closed, should the new Omicron variant not be as threatening as first assumed.”
Juergen Steinmetz, chairman of the World Tourism Network agreed: “We have to learn how to live with the virus. We cannot eliminate Delta, Omicron, or any version of the COVID-19 pandemic at this time. I agree with Cuthbert. Even if Omicron spreads faster compared to Delta, but is less deadly and less severe, international borders should reopen immediately. Omicron was currently detected in countries around the world. It’s definitely not an African issue. The key is vaccination and testing. We need to work on, that soon no one should be able to board an international flight without having received a rapid PCR test within hours before boarding. Rapid PCR tests are available and should become standard equipment at international airports around the globe. This cost could be integrated into the tax or fee calculation of airline tickets.”
South African lead scientists, including Dr. Alex Sigal, confirmed in initial blood trials, that it appears a fully vaccinated person having received two doses of Pfizer may not be fully protected against the new highly contagious Omicron variant.
However, it’s highly likely that those people who have received the third dose are expected to have a high degree of protection. There is no conclusive study yet, so these are initial findings.
Scientists from Durban, South Africa found that the Omicron variant can partially evade the protection from two doses of the Pfizer vaccine.
While those fully vaccinated people were mostly able to neutralize the Omicron variant, scientists said the booster doses would likely help to fend off infection with the virus even more.
Scientists in Australia have discovered a new “stealth” version of the Omicron Covid-19 variant that could be harder to track, with the Queensland Government confirming they’ve detected a case of the “stealth” strain.
Genetically distinct but falling under the Omicron umbrella, standard PCR tests seem unable to distinguish the new version of the virus from other strains such as Delta or the original Covid-19 strain. Instead, the variant needs to be confirmed via testing through whole-genome analysis.
Because of this, some researchers are calling the new variant “Stealth Omicron”.
Dr. Anthony Fauci in the United States on Tuesday told news agency Agence France-Presse that the omicron variant is “almost certainly” not more severe than delta. He also reiterated that it would take at least several more weeks to understand key questions surrounding omicron’s severity.
This was also confirmed in South Africa where analysts conclude, that although the number of cases is surging rapidly in South Africa, the death rate is still not that high to raise concerns.