South Africa’s coronavirus travel advisory: All you need to know

Image credit: Twitter/DIRCO

The Minister of International Relations and Cooperation, Dr Naledi Pandor, has issued an international travel advisory effective from Wednesday, 18 March, 2020 to help stop the spread of coronavirus in South Africa.

This follows President Cyril Ramaphosa’s declaration of a state of national disaster on Sunday. As of Wednesday, the number of confirmed cases in the country stands at 116, with 14 confirmed cases of local transmission.

The travel advisory affects both South African citizens as well as foreign nationals and affects countries designated as high-risk and medium-risk.

South African citizens

The government has advised South African citizens against travelling to the following high-risk countries: Italy, Iran, South Korea, Spain, Germany, United States (US), United Kingdom (UK), France, Switzerland, and China.

It has also advised them against travelling to the European Union (EU) as well as travelling on cruise ships until further notice.

South Africans returning from these high-risk countries will be subjected to testing and self-isolation or quarantine upon return to South Africa.

Travellers should also expect increased health screening measures at ports of entry for international destinations, such as entry requirements, border closures, flight suspensions and quarantines.

Foreign nationals

South Africa has prohibited all entry, regardless of compliance with visa requirements, of foreign travellers with ordinary passports travelling from or transiting through high-risk countries.

These high-risk countries include Italy, Iran, South Korea, Spain, Germany, United States (US), United Kingdom (UK), France, Switzerland, and China.

South Africa will also not approve visa applications from these countries and has revoked visas for travellers from these countries who have not yet entered South Africa.

South Africa will deny visas to foreign nationals who have visited high-risk countries in the past 20 days (effective 18 March).

Foreign nationals who are affected by these restrictions but have emergencies or compelling reasons to travel to South Africa may apply for visas, which will considered on merit and on a case-by-case basis.

These restrictions do not affect holders of diplomatic and official/service passports as well as travel documents issued by international organisations accredited to South Africa.

Crew members of aircraft and cargo ships as well as cross border rail and road transportation workers are also not affected. However, they will be subjected to medical screening and quarantine if required.

All international travellers

All international travellers, including South African citizens, entering South Africa will be required to complete and submit the prescribed Health Form to health and immigration officials upon arrival.

All international travellers will also undergo coronavirus screenings upon arrival and, if required, isolation and quarantine for at least 14 days.

Travellers from medium-risk countries, such as Portugal, Hong Kong and Singapore, will undergo high intensity screening.

All travellers who have entered South Africa from high-risk countries since 15 February, 2020 will have to present themselves for testing.

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