CAPE TOWN – Irate South Africans took to social media over the weekend to correct international media and commentators referring to the new Covid-19 variant, Omicron, as the South African variant, and pointing out that it was actually South African scientists who pioneered the discovery of the new variant.
As news broke of a new, more transmittable variant of the coronavirus on Friday, several countries around the world acted in haste, imposing air travel bans on South Africa as well as a number of African countries in a bid to contain the spread of a new variant. This is mainly in part due to the misinformation that Omicron was spreading rampantly in the southern African region.
South Africa is entering a fourth wave of Covid-19 infections, which, according to health authorities, is being driven by the new variant.
Twitter users didn’t hold back after it seemed like the international community was persecuting the country instead of celebrating the fact that world-class South African doctors and scientists made the breakthrough discovery of the new variant.
The #NewVariant #B11529 was identified in Belgium. The person has no link with southern Africa. Allegations that the Western World keep quiet about new variants and wait for South Africa to announce them needs a full probe by the World Health Organization.— Christo 🇿🇦🇿🇦🇿🇦 (@ChristoThurston) November 27, 2021
First European case of B.1.1.529 variant identified in Belgium patient who did not have any links with southern Africa. #NewVariant— Louis Oelofse (@Loelof) November 26, 2021
Putting a travel ban on South Africa for alerting the world about a new variant (due to excellent sequencing capacity) is like banning the room with the smoke detector when there’s a fire in your house. #B11529 #NewVariant— Clinton du Preez (@Cleintoon) November 26, 2021
Health Minister Dr Joe Phaahla says mutations happen, and it was in the best interest of everyone to report on this new variant and mutation. And that shouldn’t be a reason for South Africa to be discriminated against. #eNCA #COVID19 #NewVariant— Heidi Giokos (@HeidiGiokos) November 26, 2021
Social media reacted in disbelief on Saturday when controversial broadcaster Piers Morgan, known for spewing controversial opinions on matters, tweeted in defence of South Africa saying: “Omicron is not a 'South African variant', it's a variant that was spotted & reported by brilliant South African scientists so fast the world has a chance to get on top of it. Could have originated anywhere.”
Twitter users didn’t hold back in response to Morgan’s tweet, with one user even saying that even a broken clock is right twice a day.
Even a broken clock is right twice a day.— Scapegoat (@AndiMakinana) November 27, 2021
We always schemed you are a blithering idiot. So is this moment of genius a once-off Piers? For all of South Africa, tell us.— Rrrrobin Adams (@RobinAdamsZA) November 27, 2021
If Piers Morgan gets that it is not a “South African” variant, why can't the rest of the world and why have so called First World countries not followed the science as they so proudly claim to do?
In the wake of the news of a new variant, and the plethora of countries banning travel to South Africa, officials in the country have said that the country is being punished – instead of applauded – for discovering Omicron.
As the county prepares itself for its summer season, which usually sees millions of tourists hit its shores, the untimely and ill-thought travel restrictions will have a negative impact on the country’s economy as it tries to resuscitate itself from a challenging few months.
African news Agency (ANA)