TODAY is day 294 of the national lockdown due to the coronavirus pandemic, one of the most severe and the longest lockdown of any country. While the Poms in England complain about having to wear facemasks, South African are quite used to, but not necessarily happy about, wearing facemasks when out in public. However, some of the rules in the latest announced revised level-3 restrictions, as delivered by President Cyril Ramaphosa on Monday evening, seem arbitrary to say the least. The prolonged ban of alcohol is tragic, not for those who could use a drink but for the pubs, restaurants and taverns that have had to close and may never reopen. When the smoke eventually clears, the number of jobs and businesses that have been lost will hit our economy hard. The ban on outside activities in “hotspot” areas such as visiting beaches, rivers and so forth, seems strange as the open air is the least likely place you will catch the virus. The curfew is still in place but has been moved and is now from 9pm to 5am. The 28 and borders that were partially operational will be made fully operational, whereas the 34 land borders that were closed will remain closed.
VACCINES are seen internationally as the light at the end of the tunnel as far as ending the current Covid-19 pandemic. But South Africa really dropped the ball on this one. Stephen Sackur of BBC’s HARDtalk programme recently interviewed virologist Dr Barry Schoub, vice-chair of the ministerial advisory committee on Covid-19 who explained that South Africa did not place orders for a vaccine until it had been approved. As a low- to medium-income country, South Africa was not in a position to lose R2.5bn on a vaccine that could prove ineffective, explained Schoub. Sackur asked him if this was just a monetary issue and whether the lives of the people were more important than saving the economy. It appears that the South African strategy, unlike other similarly situated countries, was to take a “wait and see” attitude. We even conducted trials here on the Oxford AstraZenica vaccine, but Schoub said it was the fault of our academic institutions that did not demand a quid-pro-quo to also receive vaccines once appro ed. But is this not really the responsibility of the government, who seem defiant on beach and booze bans but forget to order vaccines ahead of time? Aside from a paltry 1.5-million doses by the end of February, South Africa will be lucky to reach its target of 80% of citizens vaccinated by the end of the year and generate herd immunity (or population immunity as Ramaphosa preferred to refer to it). Those wishing to travel overseas will be faced with a problem in some countries that demand a valid vaccination certificate before allowing anyone entry.
ON the subject of travel, last week I wrote of international travel being a no-no, but Tony King reminded me that this is not strictly true and that travel to international destinations for business or even leisure is still possible (but not to all countries) provided strict protocols are observed, including a Covid-19 negative test certificate (taken within 72 hours of the flight). Otherwise travellers will need to pay for a Covid-19 test and await the results before gaining entry. Anyone found to have been infected will need to self-isolate for the prescribed period at their own cost. South Africans travelling abroad should consult a qualified travel agent to see what protocols must be observed in the country of destination.
LAST week’s story on the twin giraffes at Riverview estate garnered considerable interest among our readers. To have twin giraffes born in our area is a big feather in the cap of our town and the management of Riverview estate. But just how rare are twin giraffe births? According to Google, out of 8,600 normal births worldwide, there are only 32 twin births.
ANOTHER year has passed and another birthday has arrived for those celebrating a special day in the week ahead. Congratulations and all good wishes on this occasion to Warren Vermaak, Lindsay Steyn, Janet Hyde, Nicky van Lavieren, Lee Howard, Leonie Beetge, Willem Mouton, Peter Rinaldi, Sylvia Whitecross, Sandra Knight, Lindy Pieterse, twins Connan Hill and Shannon Hawkes, Tanya Elliott, Shaun Uys, Buck Buchholz, Hugo Slater, Dee Joiner, Wendy Kretschmann, Lisinda Hanstein, Clinton Millard, Samantha Jones-Phillipson, Candice Larken, Cecil Jones-Phillipson, Peter Keeton, Stanley Richter, Jaco van Rensburg, Bronwyn van Zyl, Chris Butt, Val Simpson.
CONGRATULATIONS, well done and wishing all businesses having an anniversary all the best for further success in the future. Good wishes especially to The Health and Wellness Centre, JD Electrical, El Shaddai School, St Andrew’s College and Seafield Liquor Store.
IF you are following the markets you could not have failed to notice the unpredictability of the rand which, virtually every day, loses or gains 5% of its value against other international currencies. As many imports, including oil, are purchased in US dollars, fluctuations can have a devastating effect on the economy. Brent Crude Oil is also rising above the $55 per barrel mark which it had stayed below for the last nine months. With 2020’s figures in brackets to compare against, the Rand was trading at R15.39 (R14.39) to the dollar, R20.93 (R18.73) to the pound and R18.71 (R16.04) to the Euro. Gold is trading at $1,861.23 ($1,553.03) per fine ounce, and platinum at $1,072 ($977.46) per ounce. Brent Crude is trading at $55.58 ($64.39) per barrel.
SPECIAL thoughts and prayers are with all who are not well, having or have already had tests, operations and treatments. Sterkte Roy Potter, Andrew de Vries, Jenny Groenewald, Jan Haig and Lesley Stevenson.
THIS week we have to say goodbye to some of our residents. Rest in peace Dennis Croucamp and Bev Young. You will be missed.
CONGRATULATIONS to Dean, Charis and big brother Mark Charter on the birth your beautiful little boy Fynn Peter on Wednesday January 6. We also send huge congratulations to grandpa and granny, Peter and Mauneen Charter, on the arrival of your seventh grandchild. We know that he will bring the whole family lots of joy.
HAPPINESS to local dentist Dr Natalie Okonski and her family on the birth of their healthy baby boy on January 7.
WELL DONE to Carl and Natalie Wantenaar on the birth of your bonny boy Björn Maximillian on Thursday January 7. We are sure that big brother Alexander must be very excited. Enjoy you new bundle.
WEDDING anniversary congratulations and sincere good wishes for many more happy years ahead to Greg and Jann Kieck, Kevin and Sheilagh Scott.
THOUGHT for the week: “Do not spoil what you have by desiring what you have not. Remember what you now have, was once among the things you only hoped for”.
BEST regards as always,