Ex-pat's view from South Africa

A proud Kilsythian who has lived in South Africa since the 1970s has been talking about the impact of the Omicron virus in his adopted homeland, where in no major clampdown has come for residents.

Reverend Jim Patrick

Reverend Jim Patrick, who is a former pupil of Kilsyth Academy, lives in Cape Town, one of the locations that a heavy international focus has fallen upon within the last week given the variant’s much publicised link to the southern end of the continent.

Jim said: “Now, of course, we're back on the red list, which means two weeks in quarantine at one's own expense, and with the Rand being so low, that would be a hefty bill.

Sign up to our GlasgowWorld Today newsletter

The i newsletter cut through the noise

“Meanwhile here things have remained the same even after the emergence of the new strain. Rules and restrictions have remained in place all through, like the wearing of masks at all times. Churches and theatres and concerts opened up again some time back but with temperatures being taken as you go in.

“The President addressed the nation last Sunday. We were expecting a clampdown but instead he urged us all to act responsibly and be cautious about gatherings especially over the festive season. However, he also implicitly paved the way for mandatory vaccination.

"At the moment, only about 30% of the population has been vaccinated, despite an uncharacteristically efficient roll-out. There has been a certain amount of opposition, it's difficult to get to remote rural areas, but also in the crowded townships and squatter camps people are focu sed on day-to-day survival. There's huge unemployment and therefore increased homelessness and hunger.

"The main tourist season is coming up - and we're abruptly cut off. This is going to have a big effect on the economy because it has been reckoned that one in seven people in SA are dependent for an income on tourism-related activities.

"The president claimed that SA had done the right thing in immediately informing the World Health Organisation of the new strain, but before the situation had been assessed there was a knee-jerk reaction. We'll see how things are in the springtime. I'm kind of wearying for a visit back to Kilsyth."