Transport Minister Fikile Mbalula says random screening of the coronavirus will take place across all taxi ranks and train stations.
This follows President Cyril Ramaphosa’s declaration of the pandemic as a national disaster.
Sixty-two people in South Africa are currently infected with the coronavirus.
During a media briefing outlining government’s response plan to the coronavirus, Mbalula referred to the taxi industry as a critical sector that should be at the forefront of robust interventions.
“The Taxi industry transports more than 16 million people and represents a critical sector which must be at the forefront of robust interventions and awareness to manage the risks. We will implement an aggressive information drive to create awareness and promote preventative measures. Taxi and bus operators must become ambassadors whose task is to disseminate information.”
Mbalula adds that the Transport Department will collaborate with the Health Department in engaging with bus and taxi industry leaders towards mounting an information and awareness drive.
In the video below, President Ramaphosa outlines plans to mitigate the spread of the coronavirus:
Stringent interventions on aviation
Mbalula cited aviation as a high-risk sector that enables high levels of mobility and by extension, the spread of the coronavirus.
In an effort to mitigate risks, Mbalula says all frontline staff airports will be distributed with masks.
Desktop exercises carried out at all airports, in accordance with World Health Organisation (WHO) standards ensure that screening measures limit the risk of exportation or importation of the disease are implemented, without unnecessary restrictions to international traffic.
As an integral part in the airport operations value chain, the following are mandatory measures for the airlines and all handling agents:
- All airline and ground handling staff carrying out assisted passenger services (specifically passengers with reduced mobility) are required to use Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) such as surgical masks and gloves when facilitating arriving international passengers;
- Passenger-facing personnel, particularly for all international arrivals, transfers terminal and the domestic recheck are also required to use surgical masks and gloves;
- All handling agent staff that are at a high risk of contact (including, but not limited to passenger escorting, VIP services facilitation, ticket sales, baggage handling and loading, aircraft grooming, catering services, cargo handling agents, bus drivers, and crew transport drivers) are also required to wear surgical masks and gloves;
- All passenger busses will require additional cleaning or sanitisation measures to be implemented, with the Airports Company of South Africa ACSA increasing oversight.
Furthermore, the Civil Aviation Authority (CVA) has issued guidelines for infection control for all airlines in respect of passenger, cargo and baggage handling, as guided by World Health Organisation standards.
The CVA will conduct ramp inspections on all identified high-risk airlines.
Implications of travel bans
President Ramaphosa on Sunday announced travel bans on foreign nationals from high-risk countries from 18 March 2020.
Mbalula says no foreign nationals will be allowed from these countries through the country’s ports of entry, which include airports, seaports, and railways.
Charter Operators will be re-routed to international airports that have the Ports Health capability to manage a suspected case.
The graphic below outlines countries affected by the travel ban:
Copy of epidemic v pendamic by SABC Digital News
Mbalula says 10 international airports have the necessary capacity and will be ready to handle charter flights, namely:
- OR Tambo
- King Shaka
- Bram Fisher
- Kruger Mpumalanga International
- Port Elizabeth
- Cape Town
Maritime and cross-border transport
Mbalula says the South African Maritime Safety Authority will carry out an operation plan for all ships calling at port, guided by the International Maritime Organisation (IMO) and the WHO Handbook for Management of Public Health Events on Board Ships and will at all times be guided by directives issued by the Department of Health.
The Cross Border Road Transport Agency (CBRTA) will work with Border and Health authorities to implement the following interventions:
- Ensure screening of truck drivers at all inland borders that continue to allow cross-border traffic as announced by the President;
- Working with the Department of Home Affairs to assist Cross-Border operators (commercial operators which are freight, buses, tour and taxi operators) with information required and to inform them about measures that are in place at the land border posts regarding their travel;
- Participate in daily coordination meetings for the COVID-19 pandemic at Lebombo and Beitbridge border posts and co-ordinate with stakeholders in other borders;
- Review permit issuance with a view to discourage all non-essential cross-border movement and will be in discussion with the Department of Transport, provincial government and the Southern African Development Community (SADC) member states.
Mbalula says the necessary regulations to enable these measures have been developed and will be implemented on time for the measures to take effect on 18 March 2020.
The video below outlines the coronavirus footprint in Africa: