'It's devastating news': Tourism sector worried about new COVID-19 variant
Amid concern around a new coronavirus variant in South Africa, there's renewed uncertainty about tighter lockdown regulations ahead of the December holidays.
The National Institute for Communicable Diseases has on Thursday confirmed 22 cases of the COVID-19 variant called B.1.1.529.
The mutation has also been detected in Botswana and Hong Kong.
Health Minister Joe Phaahla said it's too early to predict the line of action regarding COVID-19 elated restrictions ahead of the holiday season.
He said the new coronavirus variant could become a major challenge as social activities are expected to increase during the festive season.
Germany and Italy on Friday joined Britain in banning most travel from South Africa as governments scramble to prevent the spread of a new COVID-19 variant with a large number of mutations.
This is particularly worrying for the local tourism sector which has already been hugely affected by the virus and lockdowns.
Tshifhiwa Tshivhengwa, Chief Executive Officer at Tourism Business Council of South Africa, speaks to Clement Manyathela about the sector's concerns.
"We had been looking forward to receiving as many tourists from the UK and many other countries that are most likely going to follow suit in terms of not allowing their citizens to travel to South Africa. If you look at it from that point of view, it's going to affect a lot more people that have started going back to work and were looking forward to having Christmas with their families through earning a living from the jobs that they have.Tshifhiwa Tshivhengwa, Chief Executive Officer at Tourism Business Council of South Africa
It's devastating news for us, it's not something that we're anticipating or wanted to hear but we must also emphasise the fact that we have announced it... instils much confidence in terms of what are we going to do next. Yes, we announced that we found a new variant, but the most important thing is what are going to do after we find this variant. What are the steps that we're going to take? When are we going to be testing the efficacy of the vaccine against the new variant?Tshifhiwa Tshivhengwa, Chief Executive Officer at Tourism Business Council of South Africa
When we announced the Beta variant... we just announced. We should have learnt from that. We ended up being on the red list and we went now and did the same thing yesterday... so we should have learnt from the first time that these are not just announcements, these potentially have a bad impact on the economy.Tshifhiwa Tshivhengwa, Chief Executive Officer at Tourism Business Council of South Africa
Listen to the full interview below...
Source : Somkhanda Game Reserve/ Facebook.com.