By Dr Masimba Mavaza | Zimbabweans in the UK are experiencing the saying “it never rains “ as their country is pushed back into the red list; just as COVID 19 rears its ugly head in South Africa.
UK Redlist: Racism At Play?
— ZimEye (@ZimEye) November 27, 2021
Zimbabwe, South Africa, Botswana, Eswatini, Lesotho and Namibia have been moved onto the red list at 12.00 midday Friday 26th November 2021. This means that there is now a ban on all direct commercial and private flights from these countries from 12.00 midday Friday 26 November to 4am Sunday 28 November 2021.
It's outrageous that Britain & the EU have responded to South Africa's diligent detection and publication of the new B.1.1.529 #covid19 variant by banning flights and travel from Southern Africa. The response is knee jerk and racist with no scientific, medical or technical merit!
— Prof Jonathan Moyo (@ProfJNMoyo) November 26, 2021
Those who have been in any of these counties and arrive in England between 12.00 midday on Friday 26 November and 4am Sunday 28 November, will follow special guidance on how to complete the passenger locator form; they will be asked to quarantine at home or at alternative appropriate accommodation. They will be offered a free PCR tests to take during quarantine.
Belgium just also sequenced B.1.1.529 #variant from someone who was in Egypt (far from Southern Africa). You think #EU etc are going to restrict travel to #Belgium? No. But they might just decide to lump all Africa into one excluded no-go zone. The hypocrisy of the #globalnorth
— Prof Lawrence Hamilton 🇿🇦 🇬🇧 🇧🇷 🇮🇳 (@lhamilton365) November 26, 2021
After 4am Sunday 28 November 2021 you there will be mandatory quarantine in a managed hotel. This means people will book a quarantine hotel package, including 2 COVID-19 tests, before you arrive in England.
This has impacted greatly on the Zimbabweans who have booked for journeys to Zimbabwe to be together with family during Christmas.
If you have been in a country or territory on the red list in the 10 days before you arrive in England, you will only be allowed to enter the UK if you either are a British or Irish National or have residence rights in the UK. This will mean those who had booked to visit their children or relatives in the UK will not be allowed to come to the UK.
The whole of Europe is witnessing a growing death toll from COVID-19 as Zimbabwe is punished for a very minimal number of new infections.
The coronavirus outbreak has turned into a global pandemic as the world writhes under the heavy onslaught of its population. But the pointing of bleeding fingers to Africa and place Southern Africa into a red zone is satanic political vindictive and not issues of health care.
There are countries which have the highest rate of of infections but they have a green passage into Britain.
Thousands of people are dying because of this virus yet the hard measures are piled on Africa. The strict rules are that,
If you live in England, you should not travel to countries or territories on the red list. Which simply means Zimbabweans who planned to travel home from England are once again put on hold.
There are different rules for entering England if you have not been in a red list country or territory. Most of the non red zones are not African countries.
Before you travel to England you must,take a COVID-19 test, you must take the test in the 3 days before you travel to England book a quarantine hotel package, including 2 COVID-19 tests, complete a passenger locator form
You must do this even if you are fully vaccinated.
When you arrive in England you must quarantine in a managed hotel, and take 2 COVID-19 tests.
You must do this even if you are fully vaccinated. For the first time in the history of the pandemic Children aged 11 to 17 are forced to take a COVID-19 test in the 3 days before travel to England.
On arrival in England children aged 5 to 17 must quarantine in a managed hotel for 10 full days and take 2 COVID-19 tests.
Children aged 4 or under do not have to take any travel tests but must enter managed quarantine.
Do this traffic light” system introduced by UK is yet another attempt to contain and mitigate the effects of COVID-19. But it is surprising that Africa gets the brunt of these measures. The system assigned the status of either red, amber, or green to other countries with each colour indicating different rules for a range of things including terms of travel and quarantine requirements. So Zimbabwe which is seeing great decline in the Covid cases is rewarded with a red card.
Attempting to determine the justification for the lists and accurate details about them is less than straightforward. The rules for which countries are in or out is far from transparent making it difficult to find any justification for why a country is placed on the red list and, perhaps more importantly, how they get off it.
Of the 54 countries which were on the red list 22 (approximately 41%) are from sub-Saharan Africa. Put another way, of the 48 countries making up the sub-Saharan region, 21 (approximately 44%) are on the UK’s red list.
The flimsy reasons given by the UK is that the UK Government’s justification for placing a country on the red list include: known variants of concern; known high-risk variants that are under investigation; and very high in-country or territory prevalence of COVID-19.
These justifications are difficult to understand on a number of levels. The revised rules reported on the UK government’s website are similarly opaque.
Just take the issue of variants. An important feature about viruses like COVID-19 is that mutations are a natural phenomenon. Some mutations present additional risks but many are inconsequential . And, of course, knowledge about the variants present in any country at any particular time depends entirely on the accuracy and extent of testing taking place.
This is just one reason why the red list has kicked up a storm, with some recommending that it be “scrapped in its entirety”. In South Africa scientists have been critical of the reasons cited as justification for retaining their country on the red list.
When the UK’s red list is considered at perhaps a more granular level, the difficulties become immediately apparent. Two scenarios point to the flawed logic being applied.
Zimbabwe is on the red list together with South Africa yet the numbers available about COVID-19 in the two countries point to this being a ridiculous call.
Current estimates are that South Africa has a rate of daily new confirmed cases per thousand of thirty percent Zimbabwe’s rate is less at 0.001 On top of this Zimbabwe’s rate of total vaccinations per 100 is 9.5 South Africa’s is much lower at 0.84.
Zimbabwe has a rate of total deaths per thousand of 0.00 while South Africa’s rate is 10.36.
At the end of November south Africa has confirmed the presence of the new variant while the spread of the variant in Zimbabwe had not been confirmed. So why is it necessary to paint Zimbabwe red.
One may well question what these data tell us about the two countries. It is very hard to make firm conclusions in the absence of information about the health systems and other important factors in the two countries. Comparisons become difficult and somewhat arbitrary.
This is precisely the difficulty with the red list.
The biggest problem we have with UK is that they seriously think that Zimbabwe is a province of South Africa. They will feel embarrassed if Zimbabwe is to prove that it is better than South Africa in the fight against COVID. They then hive Zimbabwe what they give South Africa as long as it is trouble.
Is it a case of cherry-picking the data? At the very least it indicates an opaqueness to decision-making that should be unacceptable in an era of rigorous scientific thinking and evidence-based policy making. When difficulties arise, we need to raise, rather than lower, the bar on our standards of what counts as credible evidence. Putting Zimbabwe on the red zone is racist and total nonsense.
The rules around the red list and vaccination status is equally baffling and difficult to fathom.
The UK Government website states that from 4am on 26 October, you will qualify as fully vaccinated according to two criteria. The first specifies an approved vaccination programme from a small number of countries. The second stipulates a full course of one of four named vaccines from a “relevant public health body” in 18 different countries. None are in Africa.
Also, from that date if you have been in a red list country in the last 10 days, you will only be allowed to enter the UK if you are a British or Irish national or you have residence rights in the UK.
Zimbabwe is a country that acted swiftly and decisively with clear and transparent leadership from the earliest indications of the monumental significance of the virus.
Despite all this, you will be unable to visit the UK under any conditions. Dr Murandu from Bristol England said
“It is unfathomable to me how this can be achieving anything other than an exacerbation of existing inequities. What possible difference can it make where I had my vaccinations? Is there some reason that being vaccinated in Rwanda or South Africa is inferior to being vaccinated in Barbados.”
In fact the World Health Organisation recently commended Zimbabwe’s vaccination drive. Yet it remains on the UK’s red list and Zimbabwe is not listed as a country with an approved vaccination programme.
More fancy footwork with numbers perhaps? Or simply skewed thinking.
The World Health Organisation is clear that vaccination will not bring an end to this pandemic until it is distributed to everyone around the world.
Yet some countries, predominantly high-income ones, are stock piling far more vaccines than they need and providing booster shots to people who don’t require them.
COVID-19 is providing us with opportunities to learn a great many things about health and health systems. But perhaps it’s most valuable lesson is the inescapable importance of equity to the global community. That lesson is ignored to the peril of us all.
Maybe rather than focusing on a red list country club with unclear and questionable criteria, we should create a red list of countries that are actively creating vaccine distribution inequities.
Only a few are being recorded and passed on as statistics.
Some countries hide the figures in order to protect their images. Many nurses in Europe, moreso in England, are contracting this disease while an estimation of four in every seven health workers have the virus.
But in a bid to avoid panic, the figures are greatly played down.
In England, people are advised to quarantine themselves and are asked to come to hospital only when they get serious.
The actual number of the infected will never be known since only the few who end up in hospitals are recorded.
World Health Organisation said the outbreak, which has been teetering on the verge of a pandemic for weeks, had now surpassed the level of epidemic and warned the worst was still to come.
The UK is experiencing a rise in the infected and the dying.
Germany has reported a huge percentage spike in cases, taking the official toll to unimagined figures — mind you these are only those who were reported to the authorities.
The UN health body, which has previously described the situation as a ‘public health emergency of international concern’, defines a pandemic as an epidemic that spreads throughout the world through local transmission.
No one is immune to COVID-19.
All measures to prevent the spread of the virus must be taken seriously; but this must not show the inequality and discrimination it must mend it.
So many Zimbabweans will suffer from Homesickness which is the distress caused by being away from home. Its cognitive hallmark is preoccupying thoughts of home and attachment objects. Homesickness is a feeling of stress or anxiety caused by separation from people and places that you know.
It is already worse that you are abroad but now being painted red is the dilemma of the Zimbabweans in the UK.