South Africa to close land borders to curb new COVID variant

at 6:09 pm
South Africa
South African President Cyril Ramaphosa (File photo)

New Delhi (NVI): South Africa will close 20 land borders with neighbouring countries for entry and departure to curb the spread of the new coronavirus variant, according to reports.

South African President Cyril Ramaphosa made the announcement while addressing the nation about the developments in relation to the country’s response to COVID-19.

“To reduce congestion and the high risk of transmission, Cabinet has decided that the 20 land ports of entry that are currently open will be closed until February 15 for general entry and departure,” he said.

This includes the border posts like Beitbridge border port with Zimbabwe, Lebombo with Mozambique, Maseru Bridge with Lesotho and Oshoek with Eswatini.

However, the decision was taken because the huge congestion at border posts has exposed many people to COVID-19 infections as they wait to be processed.

Ramaphosa also pointed out that the exceptions for entry include South African nationals, permanent residents, valid visa holders, diplomats, daily commuters who attend cross-border schools and those who require emergency medical attention.

He further said that the research undertaken by our scientists has shown that the massive increase in infections is largely driven by a variant of the coronavirus known as 501.v2 and we do know that this new variant of the virus spreads much faster than the earlier variants.

South Africa has also decided to maintain the country on adjusted alert level 3 and most of the measures that were announced on December 28, 2020 will therefore remain in place.

The current measures were due to expire on January 15 and now include closing beaches, lakes and public parks and banning the sale of alcohol.

Under the new measures, only 50 people will be allowed to attend a funeral and the nationwide curfew will also be extended from 9 pm to 6 am.

So far, South Africa has reported 1,246,643 coronavirus cases, including 33,579 deaths, the Johns Hopkins University data shows.