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DA concerned over UK’s decision to keep SA on travel red list

28 September 2021, 2:52 PM  |  Abongile Dumako  | 

Democratic Alliance (DA) leader, John Steenhuisen has expressed concern over the decision by the United Kingdom, to put South Africa on a red list, following uncertainty on the number of COVID-19 infections.

The United Kingdom (UK) has announced that it will be using data and expertise from South Africa when it reviews its COVID-19 travel red list.

An updated list of the countries that fall under the red in that country shows that South Africa remains there, while Kenya and Egypt will soon be moved from the list.

Steenhuisen addressed the media in Johannesburg this morning, during the unveiling of the DA’s City of Joburg Manifesto for the upcoming local government elections.

He says the blame should be put on President Cyril Ramaphosa for a slow vaccination race.

“If we are on the red list, it’s going to make it far difficult for us to be able to attract tourists and bring some light into our tourism industry, which has been completely decimated during the course of COVID-19. Maybe, we need to go back a step on why we are still on that red list, and part of it is because we have a very low number of vaccinated people, and blame for that must lie into the Ramaphosa administration, who woke up far too late in the vaccine race.”

On Monday, scientific experts from the UK and the South African government met to discuss the latest trends around COVID-19, respective COVID-19 testing strategies, and the prevalence and risk posed to vaccination programmes by variants of concern.

The meeting was initiated by the UK High Commission and South African government to ensure the most up-to-date and accurate sharing of information.

According to a statement, the insights provided will feed into the next review of UK border measures.

Experts also discussed the recognition of each other’s vaccine certificates.

The UK side explained that, following some initial pilots, it was now seeking to extend its recognition of vaccine certificates around the world as rapidly as possible.

Western Cape Minister of Finance and Economic Opportunities, David Maynier says he’s written to the UK Secretary for Foreign Affairs, Elizabeth Truss requesting that South Africa be removed from the UK red list.

Under the UK red list, travellers in those countries will have to undergo a mandatory quarantine at a determined hotel for 10 days at own cost, before being allowed into the UK.

Maynier says the letter to Truss is one of the steps the provincial government is taking to engage key decision makers in the UK as well as South Africa ahead of the summer season. Maynier says the province has lost over 75-thousand jobs in the tourism sector in the last year alone.

Earlier, Western Cape Premier, Alan Winde, called for the province to be moved to Alert Level 1 immediately with the termination of the National State of Disaster as soon as possible.

COVID-19 cases have decreased significantly in the province.

Last week, there was a total of 434 new cases daily based on the 7-day moving average.

Winde says this shows that the province has exited the third wave. He encouraged residents to get vaccinated as soon as possible.

He says vaccination rates need to be as high as possible so that visitors return to the county during the peak summer season and help grow the economy.

“This specific sector is a key sector for us in the Western Cape – a key jobs driver, key economic driver, and it has been under severe pressure for the last 18 months because of COVID-19. Let us use this time as we are moving towards summer to celebrate our own country, our own experiences, our own offerings that we normally offer the world.”

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