11 January 2021
Pretoria – As one of the ways of curtailing the spread of the Covid –19 second wave in the country, government has announced a raft of measures which among them will see the closure of SA’s land ports of entry including the six busiest border posts.
In a televised speech on Monday evening, President Ramaphosa noted that the number of new infections, hospital admissions and deaths is higher now than it has ever been since the first case was recorded in our country in March 2020.
“One of the challenges that we have as the festive season draws to a close is the huge congestion at many of our land border posts. This has exposed many people to infection as they wait to be processed and it has been difficult to ensure that the health requirements for entry into South Africa are met, with many people arriving without proof of COVID-19 tests.
“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 the 15th of February for general entry and departure.”
“These include the six busiest border posts, which are Beitbridge, Lebombo, Maseru Bridge, Oshoek, Ficksburg and Kopfontein,” Ramaphosa said.
These land ports of entries have been identified as super spreader hotspots which have witnessed a larger of people waiting for days to get cleared for entry or departure into South Africa. Many Covid -19 cases and deaths have been recorded at these land ports.
President Ramaphosa added that exemptions on travel are allowed for people who provide extreme services such as diplomats and the transportation of fuel, cargo and goods.
“People will be however still be allowed to enter or depart the country for; the transportation of fuel, cargo and goods, emergency medical attention for a life-threatening condition, the return of South African nationals, permanent residents or persons with other valid visas, diplomats, the departure of foreign nationals and daily commuters from neighbouring countries who attend school in South Africa,” Ramaphosa said.
Research undertaken by South African scientists has shown that the massive increase in infections is largely driven by a variant of the coronavirus known as 501.v2. This variant was first identified in South Africa in November.
“We do know that this new variant of the virus spreads much faster than the earlier variants.”
“This explains the fact that many more people have become infected in a far shorter space of time.”
The President said emerging information suggests that this new variant does not cause more severe illness than the original variants. This variant was first identified in South Africa in November. But it does put more pressure on the health system because the cases increase so rapidly and the hospitals get full more quickly.
“But one of the most important things that we know about the new variant is that we can prevent transmission using exactly the same measures that we have been using to protect ourselves and others all along. We must remember that this virus is carried through the air.
The President reiterated on the need to, ‘Therefore avoid what has been described as the three Cs – closed spaces, crowded places and close contact with others.”