South Africa struggles with Omicron’s fear and tension

Swimming at the Ballito Bench in KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa, December 2021

On the beach north of Durban, some South Africans have begun to enjoy the holiday atmosphere, because the first group of people began to arrive during the long summer vacation.

As sunset approaches, the bars and restaurants overlooking Ballito’s waterfront are overcrowded this week.

But the new Omicron variant, Is now driving the fourth wave of infections across the countryThis has aroused the deep concern of the resort town of KwaZulu-Natal, and has also frustrated companies that have been hit by the new wave of international travel bans.

A large annual party for school leavers called Rage was cancelled in Ballito at the last minute of this week.

People bathe at Ballito Beach in KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa in December 2021

People worry that their summer vacation plans will be overshadowed

“New variant? Yes, I’m worried,” said Fana Dlamini, 43, who filled a bucket full of seawater with what he called religious rituals.

29-year-old Danilia du Plessis walked by with her two children, and she agreed: “I have been infected with Covid. But we don’t know the symptoms of this new variant. So, I am scared.”

She was shocked that so far, only one-third of adults in South Africa’s KwaZulu-Natal province have been vaccinated.

Sanele Shabalala (R) and her sisters on a bench in KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa-December 2021

Sanele Shabalala (right) and her sisters do not want to be vaccinated

Sanele Shabalala, 25, was one of the people who was not stabbed.

“My problem is the government. We don’t trust them or the system,” she said.

On the bench next to her, her two sisters nodded in agreement and confirmed that neither of them had been vaccinated.

They cited false claims about allergic reactions to jabs they read on social media.


“It’s so frustrating,” said Ivy Kaunda, Caprisa’s community liaison. Caprisa is a leading HIV/AIDS research organization and is also actively involved in Covid-19 research.

“Social media is a problem, especially among young people”, source: Ivy Kaunda, source description: Caprisa community liaison, photo: Ivy Kaunda in Umlazi district, south of Durban, South Africa

The emergence of the Omicron variant prompted health officials in the province to increase publicity efforts to persuade the public—especially young people—to get vaccinated.

Although vaccine supply is sometimes arbitrary, Currently not out of stock in South Africa.

Ms. Kaunda and a team of health activists have been walking around in the Umlazi district in the green hills of southern Durban, trying to contact the locals and persuade them to get vaccinated.

“Social media is the problem, especially among young men. They say they have heard that it affects their sexuality,” she said, turning to avoid a group of builders.

A man told her that his family had been infected and was therefore safe.

Chart showing South Africa's new crown cases

Chart showing South Africa’s new crown cases

But Durban scientists have determined Previous infections seem to provide less protection For those who are now exposed to new variants.

“We believe that if you have been infected with Covid before, you are more likely to be infected again [compared to other variants]This is due to mutations in the spike protein,” said Dr. Nigel Garrett, a vaccine researcher at Caprisa.

The number of hospitalizations has risen sharply, but the severity of the Omicron mutation will not be clear for at least another week or two.

Although Dr. Garrett said that early evidence suggests that “it may spread more easily than Delta, Alpha or Beta.”

In December 2021, in the Umlazi district south of Durban, South Africa, three men smiled

The man on the left laughed after agreeing to the vaccination of Ivy Kaunda’s team

Ms. Kaunda and her team were not deterred by the attitude of the builders and continued their work.

After talking with another group of four men playing cards outside their wooden house for 15 minutes, when two of the men said that they had changed their minds, the activists erupted into enthusiastic applause.

“Then it will succeed!” Ms. Kaunda said with a smile.

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