In protest of the fear-driven omicron flight bans from Southern Africa, I am traveling to South Africa…for a day.
My One-Day Trip To South Africa
Thus far, it seems that the omicron variant may be a blessing in disguise. No virus is actually a blessing, but if this strain is highly transmissible but not nearly as severe (as it often the case as a virus evolves in order to survive), we stand a better chance of reaching herd immunity faster…and that will ultimately mean fewer lives lost and a smaller chance of a more lethal variant springing up.
Of course I’m not traveling to South Africa to “catch” omicron and spread it in the USA. I’ll be following all health and testing protocols (hopefully not getting stuck here a couple weeks versus 24 hours). But I take this trip in protest of the continuing knee-jerk, fear-based, punitive, unscientific public policy to block travelers from South Africa and surrounding nations.
South Africa, if you recall, had the integrity and honesty to self-report the omicron variant, giving the world a head start in tracking it. But instead of thanking South Africa for its service to the world, much of the world responded by shutting down traffic from South Africa and other nations in Southern Africa. That may have been appropriate for a week, out of an abundance of caution, but it is now clear that such measures disproportionately punish the people of Africa when omicron is (and was) already in our midst.
And as UN Secretary-General António Guterres noted:
I am now deeply concerned about the isolation of southern African countries due to new COVID-19 travel restrictions. The people of Africa cannot be blamed for the immorally low level of vaccinations available in Africa – and they should not be penalized for identifying and sharing crucial science and health information with the world.
I appeal to all governments to consider repeated testing for travelers, together with other appropriate and truly effective measures, with the objective of avoiding the risk of transmission so as to allow for travel and economic engagement,
Yes, yes, yes! Thank you Mr. Secretary.
So I’m flying United to Johannesburg via Newark.
I actually booked Lufthansa First Class back, in order to pick up the Christmas duck and enjoy my traditional goose dinner in Lufthansa First Class, but I will fly United instead. As much as I’d love to fly two segments in Lufthansa First Class this week, I cannot justify the expense when I am generating miles so slowly these days. Plus, with the travel ban in effect, flights between Newark and Johannesburg are easy to upgrade.
I’ll save the miles for my family.
And as for my time in J’berg, I’ll do my small part to contribute to the local economy by staying in a hotel, dining out, enjoying coffee, and using Uber. It won’t be much, but every little bit helps.
I’ve never been to the Southern hemisphere during Christmas time before…it will be a bit strange to have a warm weather and holiday lights. But I’m looking forward it. And I hope that the travel ban will soon be relaxed and the economic recovery can resume for South Africa and its neighbors.