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South Africa imposes travel ban on US, UK nationals — and cancels visas

Author:
Femi Owolabi

The South African government has imposed a travel ban on nationals of the US and UK over the coronavirus pandemic. 

The ban also extends to Italy, Iran, South Korea, Spain, Germany and China — countries the South African government listed as “high-risk”. 

The country has also cancelled visas previously issued to nationals of the “high risk” areas.

Cyril Ramaphosa, South African president, in an address on Sunday, said the ban will be effective from March 18.

“We are 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 from 18 March 2020,” he said. 

“Visa issuing to visitors from these countries is cancelled from today and previously granted visas are hereby revoked.

“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.

“Government will continue to regularly issue travel alerts referring to specific cities, countries or regions as the situation evolves based on the risk level.

“Any person 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.” 

The president said travellers from medium-risk countries such as Portugal, Hong Kong and Singapore  will be required to undergo “high intensity” screening. 

He said all travellers who have entered South Africa from high-risk countries since mid-February will be required to present themselves for testing.

The president said starting from Monday, 35 out of the 53 land ports will be shut down, and two of the eight sea ports 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. We further discourage all non-essential domestic travel, particularly by air, rail, taxis and bus,” he said. 

The president also announced that schools will be closed from Wednesday and will remain closed until after the Easter weekend. 

He added that the government is aware of the confirmed case of a student who has tested positive for the coronavirus at Wits University, and those who have been in contact with the student will be quarantined.

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