Omicron…We can’t ignore what’s happening in South Africa and the world…More Kruger photos…

Open mouth crocodile on the bank of the Sabie River. Crocs don’t have sweat glands. Instead, they open their mouths to cool off.

It would be easy for us to ignore what is happening with Omicron throughout the world and for us here in South Africa. Sure, we could write about “travel” and travel-related topics or continue with the mindless drivel of our day-to-day activities while living in the bush.

But, we can’t possibly ignore what’s going on in South Africa and throughout the world in many countries as Omicron spreads like wildfire, doubling every two days. We have no doubt you’ve seen endless news reports on this topic and most likely would prefer not to read it here.

But, over these past nine years of writing these posts, we always promised to “tell it like it is,” and we have diligently done so since the first post we uploaded in March 2012, only three months short of ten years ago. Please, dear readers, understand that sharing what we know, if doing so saves one life or one serious case of the virus, it will have been worth it. It is from that perspective that we write this today.

Another photo of a hippo mom and baby.

No politicization is included or intended here. This is entirely from our perspective, based on the research we’re conducting now and how and when it may impact our lives in the future. After all, in only 113 days, we hope to board a ship from Fort4 Lauderdale, Florida, to sail across the Atlantic Ocean for a two-month stay in and around the UK until the next cruise on June 29, 2022, sailing out of Istanbul.

At this point, Omicron is infecting the world so rapidly that everything could change in the next 30 days. But, in 38 days, we have to figure out what we’ll be doing about extending our visas. Do we dare fly to another country in Africa for a visa stamp and risk becoming infected if President Cyril Pamaphosa doesn’t extend visas for foreign nationals?

Baby elephant resting in the grass.

Based on the fact the borders are still open, in light of the rapid increase of Omicron, we seriously doubt he’ll be extending visas for foreign nationals. He’s getting a lot of pressure about new lockdowns after the already developing country has suffered so much loss over the past two years of the pandemic.

We have some tough decisions ahead of us. Returning now to the US is not on the table when we see the number of cases escalating there daily. This chart from the stats presented on the website, Worldometer, certainly impacts our plans. See the stats on the screenshot I made with yesterday’s numbers:

Please zoom in to see these numbers in detail. I removed some of the columns to fit on the page for this chart.

Some scientists and immunologists are predicting there will be 1,000,000 cases per day in the UK by January. The US will follow shortly behind. And, as far as South Africa is concerned, 35% of all Covid-19 tests are positive for Omicron, and 90% of all cases of Covid-19 are Omicron cases, even in the fully vaccinated. There are claims that contracting Omicron results in a less severe illness with fewer hospitalizations and deaths.

But, uncertainty about that immunity provided by Omicron, when science isn’t definitive, about whether or not the variant is less severe or that those getting it may already have some protection from prior exposure and vaccines.

Elephants were grazing in the park.

There are many theories that Omicron could be the end of the pandemic when most of the world’s population becomes infected, which may provide herd immunity? Is this variant the magic bullet that may give the herd immunity, the world so desperately needs to end the pandemic?. Not enough is known at this time to answer all of these questions.

But, as world travelers anxious to get back “out there,” we wait in anticipation of more definitive science and what travel restrictions may impact us.

Rapids on the Sabie River in Kruger National Park.

This has been a tough couple of years for all of us. We are saddened by the loss of life and lingering illness many have experienced. My sister has been suffering from long-haul Covid for the past 16 months, along with one in four patients undergoing the same worldwide. We are saddened by the financial strife experienced by business owners and workers during extensive lockdown and restrictions, including our friends here in South Africa, the US, and the world.

For now, what can we do? Avoid crowds? Wear masks? Maintain social distancing, which is now more confusing than ever, when the fully vaccinated spread Omicron? There’s no easy answer, but we’ve decided to remain vigilant in doing everything possible. But, we have no desire to stay in lockdown, totally isolated from other people.

Yellow-billed stork.

We have two outdoor parties we’re planning to attend; Christmas Day and New Year’s Eve. Are we prepared to discontinue our Friday night dinners at Jabula? No! It’s always a highlight of our week.

Take care of yourselves the best way you can as we watch how this variant rolls out.

Photo from one year ago today, December 16, 2020:

This photo was posted one year ago while in lockdown in a hotel in Mumbai, India, on day #268. A cave we spotted at Cape Horn on our way to Ushuaia, Argentina. For more photos, please click here.

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