Is The World About to Shut Down as Omicron Spreads?

Published November 29th, 2021 - 06:21 GMT
Shoppers in Oxford Street London
Shoppers make their way along Oxford Street on Black Friday, in central London on November 26, 2021. (Daniel LEAL / AFP)

COVID is back in a fierce way. All of a sudden the world is standing at another deadly threshold.

Just as everyone started feeling good about the fact that the world is beginning to open up and things starting to return to normal the shock resurfaced this autumn after nearly two years when the vicious virus was first declared in late 2019/early 2020.

It started in Europe at the end of last Summer when the COVID swing started to turn upwards. As lockdown restrictions began to be lifted and and gatherings ensued so that the infections began to creep up. No, the curve is not flattening but carrying on with its mutations and strains and whatever else! 

As a result many governments inside the European Union started to re-impose restrictions.

The governments started to be worried that health-wise, things could get out of hand because of the festive season where gatherings gain momentum, increased parties and with the finale being Christmas on 25 December and the New year Eve and of more get-togethers where social distancing and face masks take a backseat.

But this is only the beginning of the story; for ordinary Europeans it was the start of the heartache. The move for more restrictions was creating much frustrations among people who were getting tired of incessant lockdowns and embargoes even if these were partial. "No more" they shouted! The Dutch for instance were getting particularly agitated and taking to the streets regardless of the water cannons. 

Regardless, it was as if Europe was working - planning, organizing and preparing - in one direction while internationally the COVID virus was moving in quite another more robust, dare I say fatal direction, despite its developing, changing nature. The virus had been developing into states. First there was the Alpha variant, then Beta, the Gamma and later, on the world faced the Delta variant. This is while figures of infections and deaths were going up.

All this appears water under the bridge however. Europe and the literally the world, including the United States and parts of the Middle East like Israel, Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates are on a potential knife edge. Japan has just gone for a total border shut down against incoming foreign tourists and Holland has just found it had Omicron carries not its doorstep but in the country.

Countries are in a quandary about what is next. How do you deal with a virus that is constantly changing in nature as the latest one is potentially more dangerous because of the ambiguity, vagueness, potential and negativity involved in its strains.

The current variant, Omicron is the latest COVID-19 variety. While medical specialists are still working on the name, this variety has at least 32 mutants and can manifest up into 50 strands. Unlike the previous variants, including the one from from China - which Donald Trump derogatory called the Chinese virus and upset Beijing and the Delta virus from India - the latest strands originate from South Africa and its spread into the neighbouring countries.

Its is reaching to as far as Zimbabwe, Lesotho, Namibia, Angola, Mozambique and Botswana. Some are even coming up with another name the ‘Botswana virus’ or the "superbug" and are still trying to study its components and structures. But practically everyone in the world - especially those that have direct travel relations with these African countries are worried and tightening restrictions with travellers from the above countries are effectively embargoed.

The superbug is currently being detected in small numbers in different European countries like Belgium, the Netherlands, Germany, Italy and the Czech Republic and these are expected to increase in the next few weeks.

What is worrying health authorities is the vaccine issue, shots many international pharmaceutical companies have produced over the past year. It is feared that the current vaccines are only 40 percent effective and other health practitioners are dwelling into the realm of possibilities and conjecture which basically means they don’t know for sure as they readily admit.

However, they are putting a brave face on which means urging everyone to get jabbed and more importantly to get booster shots which will, at the very least, improve the resistance to the new Omicron variant.

However, there are people in the world, South Africa included, who say Europe and the United States are over-reacting and the new mutations are not as dangerous as we are lead to believe. Whatever the case only time will tell. But we don’t need to wait long to find out. 

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