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05 Apr 2020 | 08:27 PM UTC

South Africa: British government announce repatriation flights April 5 /update 7

UK government announces repatriation flights for British Nationals in South Africa from April 9; nationwide lockdown remains in effect

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Event

On Sunday, April 5, the British government announced that they will be working in partnership with Virgin Atlantic Airlines to operate repatriation flights from Johannesburg and Cape Town for British travellers currently stranded in South Africa as a result of the ongoing coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. The special charter flights from South Africa to the UK are scheduled to begin from Thursday, April 9. Individuals wishing to utilize the repatriation flights from Johannesburg should book their tickets on the CTM website. Tickets for repatriation flights from Cape Town can be booked here.

On Monday, March 23, South African President Cyril Ramaphosa announced that the country will implement a nationwide 21-day lockdown from midnight (local time) on Thursday, March 26, until midnight on Thursday, April 16, to curb the spread of the COVID-19 outbreak in the country. Individuals will still be permitted to buy food, seek medical care, and collect social grants. Emergency responders, health workers, and security services staff are exempted from the lockdown measures. All businesses will be closed except for supermarkets, pharmacies, laboratories, banks, petrol stations, health-care providers, and the Johannesburg Stock Exchange. In addition, nearly 20,000 police and soldiers have been deployed to maintain order and ensure that people are respecting lockdown measures. Security forces have reportedly resorted to using rubber bullets and water cannons to disperse crowds in Cape Town and Johannesburg to enforce the lockdown.

As of Sunday, April 5, South Africa's Department of Health has confirmed 1655 COVID-19 cases, including 11 related fatalities. 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 (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 COVID-19 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 general risk of transmission, travelers are advised to abide by the following measures:

  • Frequently clean hands by using alcohol-based hand rub or 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, difficulty breathing, or any other symptoms suggestive of respiratory illness, including pneumonia, call emergency services before going to the doctor or hospital to prevent the potential spread of the disease.