As the coronavirus pandemic continues to rise with more than 169,000 people infected and 6,500 killed worldwide, governments are not no longer taking any chances. So far, more than 77,000 people have recovered, mostly in China.
The African continent remains one the continent that has recorded just few cases of Covid-19 outbreak. Just recently, the Republic of South Africa has announced 61 confirmed cases of people infected with the virus, and the government of the country says the number is expected to rise in the coming days and weeks.
In a recent press release, President Cyril Ramaphosa says “the situation calls for an extraordinary response and there can be no half- measures. We have decided to take urgent and drastic measures to manage the disease, protect the people of our country and reduce the impact of the virus on our society and on our economy.”
Following an extensive analysis of the progression of the disease worldwide and in South Africa, the South African government Cabinet has decided on the following measures:
Firstly, to limit contact between persons who may be infected, South Africa has imposed a travel ban on foreign nationals from high-risk countries such as Italy, Iran, South Korea, Spain, Germany, the United States, the United Kingdom and China as from 18 March 2020.
South Africa have cancelled visas to visitors from those countries from today and previously granted visas are hereby revoked.
South African citizens are advised to refrain from all forms of travel to or through the European Union, United States, United Kingdom and other identified high-risk countries such as China, Iran and South Korea.
This is effective immediately.
The government says they will continue to regularly issue travel alerts referring to specific cities, countries or regions as the situation evolves based on the risk level. Any foreign national who has visited high-risk countries in the past 20 days will be denied a visa.
South African citizens returning from high-risk countries will be subjected to testing and self-isolation or quarantine on return to South Africa.
Travellers from medium-risk countries – such as Portugal, Hong Kong and Singapore – will be required to undergo high intensity screening.
All travellers who have entered South Africa from high-risk countries since mid-February will be required to present themselves for testing.
We will strengthen surveillance, screening and testing measures at OR Tambo, Cape Town and King Shaka International Airports, President Ramaphosa says.
South Africa has 72 ports of entry in the country which are land, sea and air ports. Of the 53 land ports, 35 will be shut down with effect from Monday 16 March. 2 of the 8 sea ports will be closed for passengers and crew changes.
The country has also prohibited all non-essential travel for all spheres of government outside of the Republic.
President Ramaphosa however, assures South Africans that the epidemic will pass, but says “it is up to us to determine how long it will last, how damaging it will be, and how long it will take our economy and our country to recover.”