A Cork woman in South Africa says the sudden shutdown of travel from the country means she's unlikely to see her family this Christmas.
Jane Bendon, an artist from Glandore, West Cork, is currently in South Africa, where she regularly travels for business with her husband, Mel.
She says everyone in South Africa got “one hell of a shock” when they realised they were cut off from much of the world within a few hours.
“I know countries are fearful, but they’ve just suddenly called a complete stop on flights in and out.
"Family and friends can’t get home, and people who came on holidays or who came on business can't leave,” she said.
Ms Bendon and her family arrived in South Africa two weeks ago, and had planned to return to Ireland for Christmas until March, but now those plans have been shelved.
“My honest opinion is that we have to live with the virus and move on. Do testing and allow people to live their lives. If you keep stepping on people and pushing them down and telling them what they can’t do, then eventually there is going to be a reaction,” she said.
Ms Bendon regularly travels between Ireland and Africa, from Cape Town to Nairobi, and says it is a wonderful place full of amazing, resilient people.
But she says this resilience is wearing thin as the variant leaves people isolated from the rest of the world.
“On the ground here, South Africans are hugely disappointed, the economy will suffer big time. There are lots of businesses that have already gone, hotels and guest houses.
“And we must not forget the game parks, which rely on money from tourists to safeguard our conservation of animal life and our village life. All of the workers on those game reserves are from local villages,” she added.
Ms Bendon said she is concerned that countries will see how South Africa has been treated, after being upfront about the presence of a new variant, and be reluctant to come forward with variants that develop in the future.
“People here are disappointed and disgusted.
“The trouble is then, will countries push things under the carpet and avoid telling the facts in future?” she added.