Miss Universe Jamboree might be the dumbest COVID gamble

NSERUSALEM — When Israel announced it was hosting this year’s Miss Universe pageant just four months ago, the country’s tourism minister was delighted. “I fully hope that in December we will not only celebrate Miss Universe here in Israel,” he said. “But most importantly, doomsday pandemic!”

He may have spoken too soon.

NS new Omicron variant was discovered in Israel just as the contestants were disembarking from long-haul flights and settled into their quarantine hotel.

On Monday, two weeks before the gala dinner scheduled for December 12, Miss France, Clémence Botino, tested positive.

Like many of her other contestants, Botina had landed in Israel just hours before An almost complete ban on the entry of tourists has been put in place after Israel identified the first two cases of Omicron domestic variant, one of which was identified in a Guinean hotel employee, who had departed from her “corona hotel” near Tel Aviv and took a public bus to Eilat, the closest journey. 4 hours.

Two Jerusalem doctors, a three-times vaccinated cardiologist who had just returned from a conference in London, were diagnosed with the new virus on Tuesday. The country is currently monitoring 32 other suspected cases of the new strain of bacteria.

After they are escorted out of their hotel, the Miss Universe contestants and the huge organizers, photographers and participants will begin a tour around the country to ensure that any Any potential case of the virus could spread far and wide from the treacherous Red Sea. coastline to the Mediterranean seaside town of Tel Aviv, through Jerusalem and the Dead Sea.

You can see why the organizers may have been complacent, the second year of the COVID-19 pandemic seems to be cooling down, in Israel, the self-styled ‘Country of Vaccination’, where 45% of citizens are three people. We “need to create tourist anchors” to promote Israel to the world as a safe and attractive destination, Yoel Razvozov, Tourism minister said in October.

Instead, the headlines in the first week of the gala are now focused on COVID. An ambulance took Miss France from her hotel to an isolated place, where she later said in a tearful Instagram post she was expected to stay for the next 10 days. .

“I cried a lot today,” she wrote, saying she feels weak and has lost her sense of smell and sense of smell but is being well cared for by the Miss Universe Organization. Officials said Botino was fully vaccinated and it was not clear if she was infected with the Omicron variant.

Upon landing on Sunday night, Botino, a 24-year-old Guadaloupean, posted an amusing story on Instagram. “Hi!” she began, wearing a striped Gautier mini sweater dress to remind of a French fisherman’s diver. All contestants of the December 12, 2021 gala event were greeted at Ben Gurion Airport with welcome signs urging, “Think POSITIVE; NEGATIVE TEST. ”

“I’m in a hotel room,” Botino says, twisting to reveal the bare back of her dress and gleefully showing off her brand-new luggage provided by a trendy, customizable Parisian brand.

“Everything was great,” she reported. Tonight, we are quarantining in our hotel room while we wait for the PCR results from the tests we did at the airport. So anyway, I’m very happy! I met some girls. Honestly… they’re beautiful. Really has a great vibe. We talk about everything. I’m nervous before the day I meet my roommate tomorrow. I still don’t know who it will be! “

That didn’t happen, and about 80 fellow contestants — several countries that have withdrawn from the competition due to the pandemic — are now under even more rigorous testing. Miss Universe officials did not expect her to re-enter the pageant.

Hagai Levine, a professor of public medicine at the Hebrew University, said the gathering of contestants from around the world only highlights how vaccine inequality and the failure of international cooperation have plagued the world. too much expense during the pandemic.

“Miss Universe in particular is an event that needs to be used to show that we are all in this contest,” Levine told The Daily Beast. “With competing women representing most of the nations on earth, we should admit that we as humanity have failed. At a critical moment, we failed to show solidarity.”

In announcing Eilat as the venue for the upcoming pageant, Paula M. Shugart, president of the Miss Universe Organization, suggested that the pageant would help promote a sense of international unity, noting that the company “has the distinct advantage of providing a global focus on world affairs. ”

But Levine, President of the Israel Association of Public Health Physicians, says that the most important event regarding the spread of the virus will take place on Tuesday, in cold and distant Geneva, where The World Trade Organization is again expected to argue ability to waive intellectual property rights on COVID-19 vaccines and treatments to pharmaceutical companies that have reaped unprecedented profits from their products. “The Omicron variant has to make it clear that no one is safe until everyone is safe, and it seems a bit bad that some of these women are from countries that don’t have access to vaccines,” says Levine. .

While some observers question the wisdom of the event itself, Levine is more optimistic. Like the Olympics, he said, a major event of this nature could be held if the authorities deem it important enough and acknowledge the impossibility of a “no-COVID policy,” and handle tuning and testing with precision, like at the Tokyo Olympics.

“We are in a complicated reality. This could bring cheers to millions around the world,” he said, acknowledging that others have suggested that “there could be more significant events.”

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