‘Enforce jabs, not lockdowns'- Strong resistance likely to any new lockdown measures over Omicron

Asia's Tech News Daily

‘Enforce jabs, not lockdowns’- Strong resistance likely to any new lockdown measures over Omicron
© Provided by Times Live

After attending many election campaign events that flouted Covid disaster regulations, President Cyril Ramaphosa faces a backlash if he ratchets up the lockdown on Sunday.

This was the warning from civil society leaders on Saturday as the National Coronavirus Command Council met in response to the emergence of the Omicron variant of the coronavirus identified by South African scientists this week.

The arrival of the variant, accompanied by a rapid rise in infections, especially in younger people, fuelled fresh calls for compulsory vaccinations as the daily average rate of jabs slumped to below 100,000 in the last week.

Ramaphosa is expected to host another “family meeting” on Sunday.

Mauritius became the latest country to ban flights from SA on Saturday. Thursday’s announcement that Omicron has quickly become the dominant variant in of SA sparked travel curbs by the UK, the US, the Netherlands, Australia, Canada, Thailand, Turkey, Brazil, Sri Lanka, the United Arab Emirates, Jordan, Morocco, Egypt, Iran, Israel and Singapore. The EU urged member states to bar travellers from SA.

Thousands of foreign would-be international visitors immediately cancelled bookings, and the department of international relations and & co-operation said the travel bans were “akin to punishing SA for its advanced genomic sequencing and the ability to detect new variants quicker”.

Minister Naledi Pandor said: “This pandemic requires collaboration and sharing of expertise. Our immediate concern is the damage that these restrictions are causing to families, the travel and tourism industries and business.”

Business for SA chair Martin Kingston said Ramaphosa should acknowledge the ramifications of the travel bans and “the precarious state of the economy, and tourism in particular”.

He urged the president to avoid the economic damage of a stricter lockdown and instead take steps to raise vaccination rates.

“There are two areas that can fundamentally increase and improve the vaccination rate:  restricted access to venues and vaccine mandates,” he said.

The government should sanction or support both “as a matter of extreme urgency”.

“It doesn’t need to impose it itself, but obviously we would welcome it if it did, but we do believe they need to acknowledge the need now to aggressively drive the vaccination rate, which is the only way we are going to curb transmission,” Kingston said.

Adrian Gardiner, chair of luxury hotel operator The Mantis Group, called the flood of cancellations “an absolute nightmare”, and David Frost, CEO of the Southern Africa Tourism Services Association, said it was a “horror show” that could be the final straw for businesses that had been “hanging on by their fingertips”. 

A Johannesburg church leader said tighter curbs on gatherings, which were dramatically relaxed during the campaign for the November 1 local elections, would be hypocritical.

Pastor Chris Mathebula of Hope Restoration Ministries in Kempton Park said: “We are not going to accept any restriction measures on gatherings because as the church we have never stopped complying with the precautionary measures, unlike the politicians who were campaigning while breaking all the Covid-19 rules and regulations.

“How will the president explain a hard lockdown after the elections, because when they were campaigning it’s like Covid-19 gave them space to campaign and now it has miraculously returned.”

Mosa Moshabela, acting deputy vice-chancellor of research and innovation at the University of KwaZulu-Natal, said Ramaphosa will struggle to convince South Africans to comply with lockdown rules after an election campaign that ignored them.

“They are going to find it difficult for people to even take them seriously. They must apologise and say, ‘We did not expect a new variant,’” he said.

Minister in the presidency Mondli Gungubele admitted in a post-cabinet briefing on Thursday that some campaign events ignored safety protocols, including social distancing.

Moshabela was among several experts calling for vaccinations to be compulsory. “SA needs to move more firmly to mandatory vaccination until we at least have a high coverage of about 70%,” he said.

Keymanthri Moodley, an expert in bioethics at Stellenbosch University, said instead of tightening the lockdown “we should be implementing a mandatory vaccine policy with immediate effect to prevent any more variants developing. This decision has been delayed unnecessarily.” 

She said the arrival of Omicron — the first since Delta to be declared a “variant of concern” by the World Health Organisation — is “exactly what we have been concerned about all along”. 

Low vaccination rates, large numbers of unjabbed people and vulnerable populations provide the conditions that favour viral mutations and the development of new and more vicious variants, Moodley said.

Stellenbosch University virologist Wolfgang Preiser said the cluster outbreaks in Gauteng warranted a return to stricter measures, but above all people should see the arrival of Omicron as “a clarion call to get their vaccines now”.

Black Business Council CEO Kganki Matabane also called for mandatory vaccines rather than stricter restrictions that would cripple the economy.

His call was echoed by Restaurant Collective spokesperson Grace Harding, who said any form of lockdown “will be like a death sentence”.

She added: “We urge government to stop living from crisis to crisis and to focus on a co-ordinated drive to get the population vaccinated so we can continue with a functional economy where we are healthy and safe.”

The convener of the National Liquor Traders Council, Lucky Ntimane, said: “We expect the president to be guided by science and common sense.

“We will view any decision …  to ban or restrict the sale of alcohol as premeditated economic sabotage aimed at destroying our people and subjecting them to poverty.”

Mary-Anne Davies, a University of Cape Town expert in infectious diseases, said: “The single most important thing we can do is to increase vaccine coverage as rapidly as possible in the most vulnerable groups and this is where energies should be directed, rather than at lockdowns at this stage.”

Dan Mafora, researcher for the Council for the Advancement of the South African Constitution, said vaccine mandates would limit citizens’ right to freedom and security of the person. “The question that would remain is whether such a limitation would be justifiable in terms of the constitution.”

The government would need to prove that a vaccine mandate is justified by whatever risk unvaccinated people pose to vulnerable groups such as immunocompromised people who cannot take the vaccine for medical reasons, he added.

“They would have to prove that unvaccinated people put strain on the health system, because of the likelihood of severe disease and hospitalisation, and show why that negatively affects the rights of people who may need to use the health system but are prevented because of a shortage of beds [and] lack of resources,” he said.

Attorney Wesley Hayes said anti-vaxxers and pro-choice groups were likely to challenge mandates on constitutional grounds.

Wits University vaccinology expert Shabir Madhi said a stricter lockdown would be the “worst decision” and would show that the decision-makers “still have the pipe dream that lockdowns have achieved much in SA”.

The only plus is that it will be over a “longer period of time that the same number of people get infected” and so higher levels of restriction are only needed if health facilities are coming under pressure.

But even then, he said, “we need a regional approach and not national, as the resurgence will differ in timing across provinces as was the case with the third wave”.

Davies said there is too much uncertainty to make any decisions. “The term ‘locking down’ is broad and includes a range of measures and there is still much uncertainty about the implications of the variant,” she said.

Davies said restrictive measures are not warranted if hospital admissions are stable but that this “will need to be closely watched” so that reducing pressure on the health system could be “balanced with the socioeconomic harm that restrictions cause”.

There is currently “much uncertainty about the implications of the variant in terms of disease severity, transmissibility and ability to escape immunity” but indications are that protection by the vaccine against severe disease and death “will be largely maintained”.

All the experts agreed indoor gatherings in crowded or poorly ventilated spaces should be avoided, and mask-wearing maintained.

Veronica Ueckermann, adjunct professor at the University of Pretoria’s internal medicine department and critical care specialist, said with increased numbers of consumers attending Black Friday sales for longer periods of time, “this may significantly increase the risk for Covid-19 transmission”.

Ueckermann said she hoped the news of a new variant would have encouraged shoppers to “pursue online options for Black Friday”.?

Internet Explorer Channel Network
Asia's Tech News Daily
News Related

OTHER NEWS

Tennis-Legal issues with WTA Tour vaccine mandate, says Azarenka

By Sudipto Ganguly © Reuters/JAMES GOURLEY Australian Open MELBOURNE (Reuters) – There are legal issues with the WTA imposing a COVID-19 vaccine mandate on everyone competing on the women’s professional ... Read more »

Breast cancer: Tens of thousands of NHS patients a year could benefit from new AI test

Almost 30,000 women a year in the UK could have their lives saved or extended by a new AI breast cancer diagnosis tool that could be available on the NHS ... Read more »

Siyethemba Sithebe would've rejected Kaizer Chiefs if it was for this one reason!

© Provided by The South African Kaizer Chiefs have reportedly already snapped up long-term midfield target Siyethemba Sithebe from Amazulu this transfer window. READ | HUGE UPDATE GIVEN ON MAMELODI ... Read more »

Former Vogue creative director Andre Leon Talley dies aged 73

© Anthony Harvey Former Vogue creative director Andre Leon Talley dies age 73 (Anthony Harvey/ PA) Former Vogue creative director Andre Leon Talley has died aged 73, his representatives said. ... Read more »

Plantwatch: goblin's gold luminous moss continues to captivate

© Provided by The Guardian Photograph: Nature Picture Library/Alamy There are caves where ethereal golden-green lights glow on the ground like emeralds. These light displays are from a luminous moss ... Read more »

Pfizer chief Albert Bourla wins $1 million Genesis Prize

© Provided by Associated Press FILE – Pfizer CEO Albert Bourla attends a ceremony in the northern city of Thessaloniki, Greece, Oct. 12, 2021. The Genesis Prize Foundation said, Wednesday, ... Read more »

Israeli police evict Palestinian family in East Jerusalem neighbourhood

© Reuters/AMMAR AWAD Members of the Israeli border police speak with a Palestinian man at the site of a demolished house in the Sheikh Jarrah neighbourhood of East Jerusalem By ... Read more »

Focus on phonics to teach reading is ‘failing children', says landmark study

© Provided by The Guardian Photograph: Murdo Macleod/The Guardian A landmark study has described the way primary school pupils are taught to read in England as “uninformed and failing children”, ... Read more »

Three-term Manila mayor Lito Atienza provides veteran support for Pacquiao

Former Manila mayor Lito Atienza, who is the running mate of Manny Pacquiao at the Philippines presidential elections. (PHOTO: Reuters/John Javellana) While boxer-turned-politician Manny Pacquiao is one of the key ... Read more »

The fall of Prince Andrew — from party prince to royal pariah?

It’s reaching crunch time. Prince Andrew’s involvement in the Jeffrey Epstein and Ghislaine Maxwell saga has been going on for years now. His friendship with the disgraced financier began more ... Read more »

Manny Pacquiao aims to punch above his weight to become Philippine president

© Provided by Yahoo News Philippine senator and retired boxing icon Manny Pacquiao waves from his bus before filing his certificate of candidacy for presidency. (PHOTO: Reuters/Eloisa Lopez) Manny “Pacman” ... Read more »

1Sambayan reveals senatorial slate

PRO-democracy coalition, 1Sambayan, supporting the presidential bid of Vice President Maria Leonor “Leni” Robredo and vice presidential running mate Senator Francis “Kiko” Pangilinan, is set to proclaim its senatorial line ... Read more »

Biden pledged media reset after Trump – so why so few press conferences?

When Joe Biden finished delivering a televised update on the administration’s coronavirus response last week, aides began to usher the press towards the exit as reporters shouted questions. Biden declined ... Read more »

Letitia James seeks to force Trump, Donald Jr. and Ivanka to cooperate with probe

New York Attorney General Letitia James filed a motion to compel testimony from Donald Trump, Ivanka Trump, and Donald Trump Jr. as part of her investigation into the Trump Organization. ... Read more »

Cape Town taxi boss gunned down in ‘suspected hit'

© Provided by SowetanLive Mzoxolo Dibela, deputy leader of the Congress of Democratic Taxi Associations (Codeta) and deputy chairperson of SA National Taxi Council Western Cape, was killed in Khayelitsha ... Read more »

JSE likely to trade lower in line with world markets

© Provided by Business Live The JSE is likely to trade lower on Wednesday, reflecting investor angst about higher consumer inflation and possible interest rates increases. Runaway consumer prices have ... Read more »

WC Education Dept ready to welcome back pupils for start of 2022 academic year

© https://www.123rf.com/stock-photo/classroom_desks.html?sti=ockfu2rxd576vnuzq8|&mediapopup=33268326 © teka77/123rf.com CAPE TOWN – Scores of school children will take their seats in a classroom on Wednesday morning as the 2022 academic year gets underway. The Western ... Read more »

Brace for a bumpy ride, KZN. You could be in for severe tropical cyclones

© Provided by Times Live The coast of KwaZulu-Natal could be pounded by severe tropical cyclones that are likely to cause major flooding and damage to beachfront infrastructure. This is ... Read more »

WHO says pandemic 'nowhere near over' as France, Germany post record cases

© Christophe ARCHAMBAULT France reported 464,769 cases within 24 hours on Tuesday, a record number The World Health Organization has warned that the Covid-19 pandemic is far from over, as ... Read more »

IEB winners overcome a death in the family and Covid-19 lockdown to soar

© Provided by Times Live The private school’s pupils wrote the Independent Examinations Board (IEB) exams and received their results early on Wednesday. Lexi Davies wrote the exams after the ... Read more »

The Time Machine Actress Yvette Mimieux Dead at 80

© Provided by People Allen Tannenbaum/getty Yvette Mimieux, an actress known for roles in iconic films such as 1960’s The Time Machine and The Black Hole from 1979, has died. ... Read more »

Alan Shearer's ruthless response to Thomas Tuchel's excuses for Chelsea draw at Brighton

Alan Shearer has questioned Thomas Tuchel’s reason behind Chelsea’s lacklustre display in the 1-1 draw against Brighton on Tuesday, after the head coach claimed his side were too “tired” to ... Read more »

Furlong, Ryan and Larmour 'should be ok' for Ireland's Six Nations campaign

IRELAND HEAD COACH Andy Farrell looks set to be able to include Tadhg Furlong, James Ryan, and Jordan Larmour in his Six Nations squad, with Leinster reporting that the trio’s ... Read more »

ASML reports Q4 net profit of $2 billion, sees 2022 sales up 20%

© Reuters/ANN WANG FILE PHOTO: Company representatives and government officials cut a ribbon during the opening ceremony of the EUV training center at ASML Holding in Tainan AMSTERDAM (Reuters) – ... Read more »

talkSPORT reporter says Man Utd 'crying out for' £50m ace who thinks he's the best in his league

Manchester United are ‘crying out’ for a player like Brighton and Hove Albion midfielder Yves Bissouma, according to talkSPORT journalist Alex Crook.  The highly-rated 25-year-old has been heavily linked with ... Read more »

SEARCCT fokus pertingkatkan kebingkasan belia

Pusat Serantau Asia Tenggara Bagi Mencegah Keganasan beri pendedahan isu keganasan dan radikalisasi Seringkali, belia disasarkan oleh kumpulan pengganas bagi tujuan radikalisasi terutamanya di platform- platform digital. Ini kerana belia ... Read more »

Nepal: COVID cases may double as infections hit record

Nepal has recorded 10,258 new coronavirus infections, government data showed, the highest number reported in a single day as the government projects the tally could double by the end of ... Read more »

Klinik di Johor ‘kantoi' jual sijil vaksin Covid-19 palsu, 30 pembeli diminta serah diri

© Provided by Free Malaysia Today Klinik swasta di Johor itu menggunakan modus operandi mendapatkan pembeli menerusi agen atau wakil yang diberikan bayaran antara RM125 hingga RM300, menurut polis. JOHOR ... Read more »

Kenyataan Suruhanjaya Sekuriti tidak boleh diterima: Gomez

SHAH ALAM – Kenyataan Suruhanjaya Sekuriti (SC) mengenai siasatan melibatkan Ketua Pesuruhjaya Suruhanjaya Pencegahan Rasuah Malaysia (SPRM), Tan Sri Azam Baki tidak boleh diterima. Pakar ekonomi, Profesor Dr Edmund Terence ... Read more »

Firms plan to offer zero-carbon fuel within next five years

© Thomson Reuters Seapoint beach in Dublin At least 20 firms are working towards providing carbon-free hydrogen fuel to Irish transport and industry within the next five years, a study ... Read more »

Man remains in custody in Ashling Murphy murder probe

© Thomson Reuters A tribute for 23-year-old teacher Ashling Murphy, who was murdered while out jogging, is seen at Durrow National School where she taught in Tullamore, Ireland January 15, ... Read more »

Hulu's How I Met Your Father Cast: Where You've Seen The HIMYM Spin-Off Actors Before

© Provided by CinemaBlend How I Met Your Father cast gallery pic Kids, in the early years of the 21st Century, the How I Met Your Mother cast became one ... Read more »

Man charged in connection with fatal shooting of dad-of-two Michael Tormey in Ballyfermot, Dublin

A 40-year-old man has been charged in connection with the death of Michael Tormey earlier this month. The father-of-two was shot dead at around 4.35am on January 9 outside his ... Read more »

RTE Prime Time viewers in tears after 'heartbreaking' report on tragic death of Irish teen Eden Heaslip

Viewers of Prime Time on Tuesday night were left “heartbroken” after a “desperately sad” report on the death of Irish teenager Eden Heaslip. The Cavan native died after taking his ... Read more »

Pensions dashboards should have interactive features, says ABI

© Yui Mok The Government and regulators are expected to consult on pensions dashboards regulations in the coming weeks (Yui Mok/PA) Pensions dashboards should have interactive features to meet younger ... Read more »

The 'disgusting' TV show that was 'insult to Liverpool' pulled by ITV bosses

If you ask people not born in the city to name something that makes you think of Liverpool, ‘sense of humour’ will undoubtedly come up time and again. Comedians in ... Read more »

Ralf Rangnick won't freeze out Paul Pogba amid talk of Man Utd exit

© Provided by Independent Online (IOL) London – Ralf Rangnick has vowed to play Paul Pogba even if the Manchester United midfielder is only motivated by the chance to secure ... Read more »

Emma Raducanu news: Nick Kyrgios joins British No 1's fan club calling her ‘the champ'

© PA Images Emma Raducanu applauding The Emma Raducanu fanbase continues to grow with Nick Kyrgios describing her as “the champ” following her first-round win at the Australian Open. The ... Read more »

Reo Hatate arrived as an instant Celtic force of nature and it's hard to recall a classier debut - Keith Jackson

Snap judgments are almost always best avoided in all aspects of life but especially, here, in the manic, completely unhinged environment of Scottish football. They tend to have a nasty ... Read more »

'The support system, access to great teachers allowed me to get 10 distinctions'

© Provided by 702 Schools that wrote the Independent Examinations Board (IEB) matric exams achieved a pass rate of 98.39%. This is an increase from the 98.06% achieved in 2020. ... Read more »
On free-english-test.com you will find lots of free English exam practice materials to help you improve your English skills: grammar, listening, reading, writing, ielts, toeic