HAMPTON ROADS, Va. – There’s a renewed urgency to vaccinate extra individuals from COVID-19 because the Omicron variant emerges.
Because the Virginia Department of Health (VDH) closely monitors the Omicron variant, so are those that have family members in South Africa.
Esther Seep was on a safari in South Africa in October visiting household in her hometown. Earlier than the journey, it had been 5 years since seeing her household. Seep mentioned she determined to go residence after talks about one other COVID wave might be on the horizon.
She couldn’t have recognized that weeks later after arriving again within the U.S., the southernmost country would have travel restrictions.
“I believed that I’d higher go earlier than issues change once more, and I’m glad I did,” mentioned Seep. “That gave me a peace of thoughts that I truly went again to go see them, as a result of who is aware of how lengthy will probably be earlier than I can see them once more or that they’ll come right here?”
On Monday, the U.S. put a travel ban in place for eight South African nations and five neighboring countries. This comes after COVID-19’s latest variant, Omicron, continues to rapidly unfold in South Africa and is now confirmed in no less than 17 nations, together with Canada.
Though not a lot is thought in regards to the new pressure, it’s believed to be extremely transmissible and has dozens of regarding mutations.
Seep, who was dwelling in Newport Information, mentioned she now worries for her mother and father again residence who’re of their 70s.
“I’m involved as a result of they’re older they usually don’t know if the vaccine that they did get will cowl the brand new one,” she mentioned. “They take precautions; they need to put on their masks. After we have been there, they’re actually strict about spraying, hand sanitize your fingers earlier than you stroll into store and you need to put on your masks all time. I feel simply by doing that I feel they really feel safer and that’s actually all they’ll do.”
VDH is now urging all eligible Virginians to get their COVID shot and booster in the event that they haven’t already.
Meantime, Seep is hoping the borders gained’t keep closed for too lengthy, in order that she will be able to see her household extra usually and extra guests might help the nation thrive.
“You will have the virus clearly in different nations too so why solely shut these few nations down?” Seep mentioned. “You may journey so simply lately and fast, the virus travels earlier than you may even lock any nation down. It’s simply South Africa that loses out as a result of they’re struggling economically already. They’ve a 40% unemployment charge, and with at all times shutting issues down, it’s simply onerous, particularly with small companies that’s at all times getting shut down after which they don’t make it. It’s unhappy. They want the vacationers to come back.”
Whereas there are not any reported instances of the omicron variant within the U.S., well being consultants say it’s only a matter of time earlier than we do see it right here.
The white home mentioned Monday all three COVID vaccine makers are able to tweak their formulation if wanted.