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Keeping up with Covid-19

Here’s everything you need to know about the spiky little devil in our midst (don’t panic, Justice Mogoeng, it’s a metaphor): 

🔹Yesterday the UK removed South Africa and ten other countries from its travel red list! This means visiting friends and family from the UK won’t have to fork out over R50k to quarantine on their return. We’re hoping this will give our economy some reprieve. 😬 The UK faced a backlash over red listing SA and others, given that the new variant is spreading rapidly there too, and it looks like they were persuaded. 

🔹President Cyril Ramaphosa tested positive for Covid after attending F.W. de Klerk’s memorial service in Cape Town over the weekend. (We say nothing😆). We’re surprised that Ramaphosa has managed to stay safe all this time, given the number of gatherings and trips on his itinerary, but we’re happy to hear that he’s recovering well and is, says minister in the Presidency Mondli Gungubele, in “good spirits”. 

🔹If it seems like every fifth person you know has Covid it’s because cases, driven by the Omicron variant, are rising rapidly. Many provinces are entering into the fourth wave. The good news is that those who are getting infected are reporting mild symptoms and our hospitals are quieter than in previous waves. The bad news is that results from a preliminary South African study on the Pfizer vaccine’s effectiveness against Omicron suggest it’s less effective at keeping people out of hospital than it was during the Delta-driven third wave. Between 15 November and 7 December, people who had received two doses of the shot had a 70% chance of avoiding hospitalisation, down from 93% during the previous Delta wave. This means we can expect tighter restrictions soon, with a focus on the size of gatherings, curfews and, most likely, alcohol sales (stock up soon!). ☝🏽

🔹How annoying is it that you have to shell out nearly a grand every time you need to get tested? Thankfully the price of Covid-19 PCR tests in private laboratories, Lancet and Ampath, has been reduced from R850 to R500 after the Competition Commission intervened. The commission found that private laboratories “exploit[ed] consumers by earning excessive profits on essential products or services”, Daily Maverick reported. 😠

🔹Finally, the most important thing you need to know, dear reader, is that you have to keep your guard up – as exhausting as that is the fourth time around. While we may have seen worse before, and you may be vaccinated this time, you can still put yourself and others at risk. If you’re going to be out socialising, remember to wear your mask, keep your distance and wash your hands often. 😷

This article appeared as part of The Wrap, 15 December 2021. Sign up to receive our weekly updates.