Omicron variant: Brits stranded in South Africa erupts at Boris ‘extorting’ £4k to return | UK | News

The two holidaymakers had travelled to South Africa to visit Emily’s family after nearly two years of separation due to the coronavirus pandemic. But because of the emergence of the Omicron variant in the region, and the introduction of a flight ban under new UK Government rules, the woman and her partner Owen risk being stranded in South Africa over Christmas. Asked whether the measures restricting arrivals from the area and the need to quarantine, Owen told LBC: “We totally agree with that.

“We’re not looking forward to isolating for ten days but we understand that everyone has to put up with different hardships over Covid.

“We’re totally in for doing our bit. What our consternation is about is the Government has made this shift…Boris is basically extorting us to get home.

“We don’t have a choice around it, we have to pay nearly £4,000 and we didn’t know that would be the case.

“We didn’t have any expectation that we can’t get home and that’s what we think is unfair, unreasonable, and unacceptable.”

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It’s just so disappointing and bittersweet, especially when we haven’t been able to see our family and friends for over two years.”

South Africa health minister Joe Phaahla said he has heard anecdotally that the majority of cases of Omicron seen by doctors in his country have been “mild”.

Asked on LBC what he knows about how unwell people are who have it, Dr Phaahla said: “It is still too early at this stage.

“Some of what I’ve read from some of our clinicians has been that thus far they have not witnessed severe illness. Part of it may be because the majority of those who are positive are young people.”

He also said a greater proportion of older people are vaccinated, adding: “Also, it may be because it’s younger people out of whom only 26% of people are vaccinated.”

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Prime Minister Boris Johnson warned the strain could reduce the effectiveness of vaccines as he announced a strengthening of England’s rules at a Downing Street press conference after the infections were identified in Nottingham and Brentwood, Essex.

Mr Johnson said on Saturday the “temporary and precautionary” measures will be reviewed in three weeks, while the Government’s vaccine experts will be tasked with considering whether to extend booster jabs to all over-18s.

The UK Health Security Agency confirmed the two cases, which are believed to be connected and linked to travel to southern Africa, after genomic sequencing overnight.

The individuals and their households were ordered into self-isolation and targeted testing is being carried out in areas where they are thought to have been infectious.

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