Source: AP Photo/Manuel Balce Ceneta.
By Katie Pavlich
Writing in the Daily Mail, Dr. Coetzee points out that new variants aren’t a surprise and nobody carrying the latest one, Omicron, has been hospitalized.
“As chair of the South African Medical Association and a GP of 33 years’ standing, I have seen a lot over my medical career. But nothing has prepared me for the extraordinary global reaction that met my announcement this week that I had seen a young man in my surgery who had a case of Covid that turned out to be the Omicron variant,” she writes. “This version of the virus had been circulating in southern Africa for some time, having been previously identified in Botswana. But given my public-facing role, by announcing its presence in my own patient, I unwittingly brought it to global attention.”
“Quite simply, I have been stunned at the response – and especially from Britain. And let me be clear: nothing I have seen about this new variant warrants the extreme action the UK government has taken in response to it,” she continued. “No one here in South Africa is known to have been hospitalised with the Omicron variant, nor is anyone here believed to have fallen seriously ill with it.”
Further, Coetzee reiterated the mildness of the variant so far.
“Only yesterday, I saw five more patients who had tested positive for the new variant. They all had a very mild illness. So, at the moment, I’m afraid it seems to me that Britain is merely hyping up the alarm about this variant unnecessarily. Yes, the picture might one day look different. I have yet to see older, unvaccinated people infected with the new variant, for example, and they might well present with a more severe form of the disease,” she said. “But the reality is that Covid is something we have to learn to live with. Look after yourself and get your vaccines. Above all, don’t panic – and that goes for governments as well.”
The panic is real and isn’t just limited to European countries.
Earlier this week, President Joe Biden banned travel to the United States from a number of African countries. Despite the variant also being in the UK, he has not issued a ban on travel from across the pond. He also urged Americans to started wearing masks again during remarks at the White House.