In a bid to curb the spread of Coronavirus (COVID-19) in the country, the Department of Home Affairs will revoke about 8 339 visas from China and Iran.
Speaking at an inter-ministerial media briefing on Coronavirus on Monday in Tshwane, the Minister of Home Affairs, Dr Aaron Motsoaledi, said the department will also ban foreign nationals from hot-spot countries.
Citizens from other hot-spot countries, which include Italy, France, Germany, USA and South Korea, do not require a visa to enter South Africa.
“The only way to stop people from coming is through visas. We are now going to start asking for visas and health certificates,” Motsoaledi said.
He said citizens from hot-spot countries will be allowed to travel in the future to South Africa, but with a requirement on the visa to produce a health certificate to prove that they have been tested for COVID-19 and have been cleared.
This comes after President Cyril Ramaphosa announced a raft of unprecedented interventions to curb the spread of COVID-19 in South Africa, including closing schools from Wednesday, 18 March; closing 35 ports of entry and imposing a travel ban on foreign nationals from countries hardest hit by the Coronavirus pandemic.
Ports of entry
Home Affairs will also close 35 of the 72 ports of entry.
Motsoaledi said these ports of entry are non-commercial ports, and never had officials from the Department of Health.
“They only had SAPS [South African Police Service] and Home Affairs officials,” he said.
The ports of entry to be closed are:
- 12 border posts with Botswana;
- 9 border posts with Lesotho;
- 3 border posts with Mozambique;
- 5 border posts with Namibia and
- 6 border posts with Eswatini.
Motsoaledi said the Beit bridge border post will not be closed, as it is the gateway to the rest of Africa.
Officials deployed at the border posts that are going to be closed will now be deployed to other ports of entry.
In total, Home Affairs has 1 400 officials at the 72 ports of entry, with 90 of them stationed at the 35 ports of entry.
Motsoaledi said the department will send 20 extra Home Affairs officials from the closed ports to assist at the Beit bridge border post.
The remaining 70 officials will be distributed to other border posts, with a special focus on:
- Lebombo border post (the only remaining border between SA and Mozambique);
- Oshoek border post (with Eswatini);
- Maseru border post (with Lesotho);
- Fiksburg (with Lesotho), and
- Kopfontein (with Botswana).
South Africans have been advised to refrain from all forms of travel to or through the European Union, the US, UK and other high risk areas.
Additionally, any foreign national, who has visited any of the high risk countries in the past 20 days, will be denied a visa.
South African citizens returning from these countries will be subjected to testing and self-isolation or quarantine on return.
The number of positive cases of COVID-19 in the country has risen to 61, an increase of 10 from the figure released earlier on Sunday by the Department of Health.
Globally, 162 000 people have tested positive for Coronavirus and around 5 000 people have died. – SAnews.gov.za