Scientific experts from the UK and the South African government have 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.”
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.”