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16 Mar 2020 | 08:10 AM UTC

South Africa: Authorities declare state of disaster and ban travelers from eight COVID-19 affected countries as of March 18 /update 1

Authorities declare state of disaster and ban travelers who traveled through the United States, Italy, Iran, South Korea, Spain, Germany, China, and the United Kingdom as of March 18 amid COVID-19 outbreak; confirm travel itineraries

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ZAF

Event

Authorities declared a national state of disaster on Sunday, March 15, over concerns regarding the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. As a result, South Africa closed 35 of its 53 land ports as of Monday, March 16, and imposed a travel ban on foreign nationals who have recently visited Italy, Iran, South Korea, Spain, Germany, the United States, the United Kingdom, and China in the last 20 days as of Wednesday, March 18.

As of Monday, March 16, it remains unclear how long the ban will be in effect for.

Citizens from Italy, Iran, South Korea, Spain, Germany, the United States, the United Kingdom, and China who have entered the country since mid-February will be required to present themselves to authorities for testing.

As of March 16, there are 61 confirmed COVID-19 cases nationwide. Further international spread of the virus is expected in the near term.

Context

The first case of COVID-19 was reported on December 31 and the source of the outbreak has been linked to a wet market in Wuhan (Hubei province, China). Human-to-human and patient-to-medical staff transmission of the virus have been confirmed. Many of the associated fatalities have been due to pneumonia caused by the virus.

Cases of the virus have been confirmed in numerous countries and territories worldwide. Virus-screening and quarantining measures are being implemented at airports worldwide, as well as extensive travel restrictions. On March 11, the World Health Organization (WHO) declared the global outbreak a pandemic.

Pneumonia symptoms include dry cough, chest pain, fever, and labored breathing. Pneumonia can be contagious and can be transmitted from human to human. The influenza virus, or the flu, is a common cause of viral pneumonia.

Advice

Measures adopted by local authorities evolve quickly and are usually effective immediately. Depending on the evolution of the outbreak in other countries, authorities are likely to modify, at very short notice, the list of countries whose travelers are subject to border control measures or entry restrictions upon their arrival to the territory in question. It is advised to postpone nonessential travel due to the risk that travelers may be refused entry or be subject to quarantine upon their arrival or during their stay.

To reduce the risk of COVID-19 transmission, travelers are advised to abide by the following measures:

  • Frequently clean hands by applying an alcohol-based hand rub or washing with soap and water.
  • When coughing and sneezing, cover mouth and nose with a flexed elbow or tissue; if used, throw the tissue away immediately and wash hands.
  • If experiencing a fever, cough, and difficulty breathing, seek medical care urgently and share your previous travel history with your health care provider.