Business as usual in Southern Africa while waiting for details on REAL impact of Omicron
As most of you will already be aware, genome sequencing by world-class South African scientists identified a new variant of the Covid-19 virus last week. The UK & other countries took this as a reason to place bans on travel to and from Southern Africa. We hope this ‘knee-jerk’ reaction will be short-lived, especially given the early data that is already emerging about the variant – primarily from South African hospitals, medical practitioners and scientists. This is that the Omicron variant seems to be considerably less aggressive than any other previous variant and that it doesn’t appear to evade current vaccines, although it has been established that it is extremely infectious and probably the most transmissible variant so far.
This could prove to be a silver lining to the overall Covid situation if the increased transmissibility of Omicron were to mean it came to replace other more dangerous variants. On a more local level, it is also worth noting that current infection rates in Namibia rank amongst the lowest in the world.
The recent measures taken will already have had an impact on global tourism and on the confidence of those thinking of making travel arrangements, we would still urge our clients not to rush to any decisions and to wait until more reliable data becomes available. Once that happens, there may be a quick reversal of the current travel bans – especially as it is most unlikely that these could halt the spread of the new variant.
Many of our suppliers throughout Southern Africa have implemented flexible booking policies and revised Covid terms and conditions. We hope the next week or so will give better direction to the current situation, and we are confident that all travel to Southern Africa will be back on track very soon. In fact, in Namibia, it is currently still very much business as usual with many guests travelling in and out very easily, and absolutely no indication of any intention to implement border closures, especially considering the low rates of Covid-19 in country.
Namibia, like Southern Africa as a whole, desperately needs international travel to continue and they have done everything, and more, expected of them to allow that to happen in one of the safest environments in the world.
We urge all imminent prospective travellers to pause and wait for proper direction before making any decision to postpone or cancel their current travel arrangements.
UK Foreign Office Travel Advice