S. African government urged to clarify list of COVID-19 high risk countries

Anc President Cyril Ramaphosa Sworn In As Head Of State In The Republic Of South Africa May

The opposition on Tuesday requested clarity on the criteria used by the government to draw up the COVID-19 red list comprising countries South Africa considers as high risk for international travel.

This came after the Department of Home Affairs (DHA) on Monday revised the list of COVID-19 high risk countries which now stand at 22, down from an initial 60.

While the number of countries are reduced, the list now includes countries such as Germany, the United States and Canada which are among the most important source markets for tourism in South Africa, the Democratic Alliance (DA) said in a statement.

As was the case last time, the revised red list appears to have been arbitrarily drawn up as there is no correlation with the latest global COVID-19 statistics, the DA said.

The red list bars people from high risk countries from visiting South Africa, except for those who fall in the following categories: business travellers, holders of critical skills visas, investors and people on international mission in sports, arts, culture and science.

The DHA did not say what criteria it used to determine which country is high risk.

“If total deaths per country was the criteria used to draw up this list then countries like Ecuador would have been included on the list as it has more deaths than Canada which was added onto the red list,” said Manny de Freitas, DA Shadow Minister of Tourism.

Turkey and Bolivia with more deaths and are not on the red list yet the Netherlands with less deaths than those two countries remain on the list, De Freitas said.

The same can be said for the statistics for deaths per million population such as Bolivia and Chile which are fourth and sixth respectively in this category but are not on the red list while countries such as Bangladesh at number 46 has been added onto the list, according to De Freitas.

The DA is of the view that the red list should be replaced with a simpler and more economically-beneficial system.

Such a system should be for all people to be permitted to enter through the South African borders on condition that they produce a recent negative COVID-19 test which would have been conducted at the country of origin, the DA maintains.

In the case of countries that were not previously on the red list and were added on this week, such as Germany (with a low per capita death rate compared to the other red listed countries), tourists in those markets that have planned holidays to South Africa now have to suddenly cancel or postpone their tourism activities, De Freitas said.

Information received by the DA from tourism experts indicate that the uncertain and inexplicable red list will completely bankrupt the tourism sector in South Africa within a few weeks, according to De Freitas. Enditem

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