By Kaya News
The DA and the EFF have called for the government to impose travel restrictions on travellers arriving in the country from India.
This comes after a number of people who recently travelled to SA, from India, testing positive for COVID-19. There are also growing concerns that the deadly B.1.617 variant, discovered in India, could be in SA.
The DA’s Angel Khanyile urged the government “to do the right thing”.
This should include the halting of direct and connecting flights from India to South Africa as well as restrictions at sea ports and land borders.
“Only repatriation flights should be allowed from India to transport South Africans back home. Repatriation should also be on the strict condition of a mandatory self-quarantine for two weeks or by producing a negative Covid-19 test that was taken after arrival in South Africa, not before leaving,” Khanyile said.
Calls for reactionary approach
Khanyile said despite Health Minister Zweli Mkhize indicating that the variant has not yet been detected in South Africa, there have already been two separate incidents of individuals travelling from India having tested positive for Covid in the last 72 hours.
“It would be reckless of the government to only implement measures after this variant may hit our shores. A reactionary approach at this stage would be criminal especially since there has not yet been any real clarity on the severity of B.1.617 and whether current vaccines are effective against the strain,” she said.
She added that further to this, SA’s vaccine rollout has been non-existent up until this point.
“We simply cannot afford another brutal wave of Covid infections which will cost lives nor another hard lockdown which will cost livelihoods. While the DA sympathises with India’s efforts to combat Coronavirus, we have seen how the devastation of the country’s second wave has collapsed the health system. If our authorities don’t act decisively, a possible third wave of infections in South Africa will not only be inevitable but also more deadly than before,” Khanyile said.
EFF spokesperson, Vuyani Pambo, said over the last few days, they have seen alarming reports of passengers travelling from India who tested positive for COVID-19.
“This is a blatant failure by this government to follow global trends of the virus,” he said.
Mkhize says teams are on high alert
Mkhize has meanwhile moved to allay fears over the variant being detected in SA.
“We share our people’s concerns but wish to reassure South Africans that we are a very capable nation that knows how to deal with the burden of a variant of concern. Our teams remain on high alert to survey, detect and contain the spread of Covid-19 in general, with heightened awareness of travelers from countries where VOC’s are dominating,” he said.
“We confirm that the B.1.617 variant, circulating widely in India, has not been detected, however the genomics teams are working on some samples and we will need to allow the time it takes to sequence before we get an answer,” Mkhize said.
He added that they are following advice from the World Health Organization and all variants are managed the same.
“These all form part of the regulations that govern the management of Covid-19 and it has been through adherence to these regulations that we have detected and contained Covid-19 cases at ports of entry,” Mkhize said.