Health, Africa, Latest on coronavirus outbreak

South Africa to ban arrivals from virus-hit countries

High-risk countries whose citizens will be denied entry include US, UK and China

Hassan Isilow   | 16.03.2020
South Africa to ban arrivals from virus-hit countries

JOHANNESBURG

South Africa announced Sunday that it will close its borders to all foreign nationals from high-risk countries where the novel coronavirus has spread widely.

“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,’’ President Cyril Ramaphosa said in a statement shortly after holding an emergency cabinet meeting.

The high-risk countries whose citizens will be stopped from entering South Africa starting Wednesday include the U.S., the U.K. and China.

Others are Italy, Iran, South Korea, Spain and Germany.

“We have cancelled visas to visitors from those countries from today, and previously granted visas are hereby revoked,” Ramaphosa said.

He also announced that there are currently 61 confirmed cases of coronavirus in South Africa and the numbers are expected to rise in the coming days and weeks.

“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 internal transmission of the virus,” he said.

Ramaphosa also advised citizens to refrain from all forms of travel to or through the European Union, U.S., U.K. and other identified high-risk countries such as China, Iran and South Korea.

“This is effective immediately,” he said.

The Presidency also said 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,” it said in a statement.

No deaths from the virus have been reported.

The government on Saturday repatriated 146 citizens who had been living in Wuhan, China. They are currently being quarantined at a resort in Northern Limpopo province.

After emerging in Wuhan, China last December, the virus, officially known as COVID-19, has spread to at least 135 countries and territories.

The global death toll is now more than 5,300, with more than 142,000 confirmed cases, according to the World Health Organization, which has declared the outbreak a “global pandemic.”

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