Optimism as UK, SA meet over red list travel ban

Image: Reuters

Travellers line up at a check-in counter of the Cologne-Bonn Airport, as the spread of COVID-19 continues, in Cologne, July 28, 2020.

There’s optimism that the meeting between government scientists from South Africa (SA) and the United Kingdom (UK) could lead to the UK’s review of its travel ban Red List.

They discussed the latest trends on COVID-19 surveillance and vaccination programmes on Monday. This is after the furore over the UK’s decision to put SA on the list which doesn’t recognise the local inoculation regime.

The bilateral meeting sought to boost confidence in SA’s scientific prowess and vaccination initiative.

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 their 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 Western Cape province has lost over 75 000 jobs in the tourism sector in the last year alone.

SA and UK discuss travel ban red list

No basis to keep SA on Red List

Last week, Vaccinologist, Dr Shabir Madhi said there was no scientific basis for the United Kingdom’s decision to keep South Africa on its Red List for travel.

Britain published its updated list two weeks ago, with South Africa still listed under red. Eight countries were removed from the list, including Kenya and Egypt.

The UK said as of October the new rules did not yet recognize South Africa’s vaccination programme, meaning local travellers would still be subject to tight restrictions.

According to Madhi, experts found this difficult to understand as the standards of locally-used vaccines were not inferior to vaccines in other parts of the world.

“It is more irrational than anything else and there is no scientific basis for this decision to be made. The vaccines that are being used in SA are not inferior to those being used in the UK or anywhere else in the world. SA has the Delta variant that is dominating, but SA has more people vaccinated than places such as Kenya and Pakistan for example, which have been removed from the Red List. So it is difficult to comprehend the basis on which this decision has been made” says Madhi.

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