Having set off the latest global COVID panic, this time focusing on the omicron strain, which was hastily labeled a variant of concern by the WHO over the long holiday weekend in the US, South Africa's top epidemiologists now find themselves in the awkward position of having to walk back all - or at least some - of the hysteria first unleashed by news of the omicron variant.
Dr. Angelique Coetzee, chairwoman of the South African Medical Association, affirmed Monday that while the omicron variant appears to spread more quickly than earlier strains, its symptoms appear to be less severe, meaning the new strain - while more infectious - might also prove less deadly than the delta strain, which is the most dominant COVID strain on the planet right now.
Meanwhile, the G-7 - at the UK's urging - is exhorting its members to take bold action to make sure the variant doesn't become a threat.
Patients infected with the new strain appear to be suffering more from fatigue, head and body aches and occasional sore throats and coughs. They also don't exhibit symptoms like loss of taste and smell, like patients infected with delta and other variants have seen.
After the UK confirmed its first cases of the omicron variant and added a handful of southern African countries (including South Africa) to its travel "red list", in effect shutting down travel between the region and the UK, the G-7 has just decided to issue its own warning about the new "variant of concern".
In a joint statement issued with the G-7 health ministers about the "global threat" posed by the omicron variant, the G-7 unleashed a torrent of FUD, while also praising South Africa for its "exemplary" work, as the WHO complains that the West is mistaken for shutting down travel from the region.