In terms of the Disaster Management Act, President Cyril Ramaphosa declares a National State of Disaster. In a Live TV broadcast earlier this evening, he said: “Initially, it was people who had travelled out of the country, especially from Italy, who had positively tested for the virus”. ”It is concerning that we are now dealing with the internal transmission of the virus”. Presently there are 61 confirmed cases of people infected with the virus in South Africa and the government envisage that this number will rise in a matter of days and weeks.
In the President’s statement, he added: “The World Health Organisation has declared the coronavirus outbreak as a global pandemic”. “There are now more than 162 000 people who have tested positive for the coronavirus across the globe”. As a result of this, the government is imposing 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 of 18 March 2020. Also, “Visa issuing to visitors from these countries is cancelled from today and previously granted visas are hereby revoked” he added.
A travel advisory was issued for citizens and it reads “Effective immediately, 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”. “South African citizens returning from high-risk countries will be subjected to testing and self-isolation or quarantine on return to South Africa”.
Also, foreign nationals should note that visas will be denied if they had initially visited countries regarded as high risk in the last 3 three weeks. The President’s statement reads “Any person who has visited high-risk countries in the past 20 days will be denied a visa”. Also “All travellers who have entered South Africa from high-risk countries since mid-February will be required to present themselves for testing”. “Travellers from medium-risk countries – such as Portugal, Hong Kong, and Singapore – will be required to undergo high-intensity screening” he added.
Border management and movement of persons are also affected as the government takes measures to reduce cross border transmission. President Cyril Ramaphosa in his statement said: “South Africa has 72 ports of entry in the country which are land, sea, and airports”. “Of the 53 land ports, 35 will be shut down with effect from Monday 16 March”. “2 of the 8 seaports will be closed for passengers and crew changes”. “Effective immediately, all non-essential travel for all spheres of government outside of the Republic is prohibited” he added.
To ensure the minimal internal transmission of the virus, strict measures were also put in place to safeguard the health of all persons as gatherings of more than 100 people is prohibited, closure of schools from Wednesday the 18th of March until after the Easter weekend and a 30-day ban on all visits to correctional centres with immediate effect as the government advises that non-essential domestic travel, particularly by air, rail, taxis, and the bus should be discouraged.
compiled by Abiodun Abidoye member Southern African Freelancers Association and Publisher@AfricaOnlineNews.blog