South Africa has reviewed its list of high-risk COVID-19 countries, sharply reducing the number but maintaining travel restrictions on people visiting the country from India. In its updated list released on October 19, the Department of Home Affairs also included Bangladesh and Germany among the 22 countries it considers are at high-risk for the novel coronavirus.
The department has significantly shortened the list, which had 60 such countries in the high-risk zone at the beginning of October. "We continue to be reminded that the COVID-19 pandemic is still with us and we need to continue to take precautions," the Department of Home Affairs said in a statement.
"The review of the list of high-risk countries was done in such a way that it strikes a balance between saving lives and protecting livelihoods," it said amid growing concerns in South Africa about the increasing probability of a second wave of the infection. The country is currently in level one of a five-level phased lockdown strategy.
Also on the latest list are European nations Belgium, Italy, Netherlands, Spain and France as well as Peru, Mexico, Colombia, Argentina and Chile from South America, which are all battling a new wave of infections, many having reintroduced strict control measures. South American partner in BRICS, Brazil is also on the list, as is Russia, leaving China, where the virus originated, as the only partner in the alliance that can send travellers in all categories to South Africa.
The Philippines, Indonesia, Iran, Iraq, the US, the UK and Canada also figure in the new list. But there is no total ban on travel from these countries.
People from high-risk countries who may visit South Africa include business travellers, holders of critical skills visas, investors and people on international mission in sports, arts, culture and science, the Department of Home Affairs said. "In addition, we recognise that there are a number of regular visitors from mainly European countries that have been accustomed to long periods of visiting our country during our summer season when it is winter in the Northern Hemisphere.
"Most of them own properties in the country. We appreciate the significant economic contribution that they make through their activities in the country. To this end, we will also allow visitors, in whichever category, who are coming to stay for a three-month period or more, subject to COVID-19 protocols," it said. In the first two weeks that a special desk had been set up to deal with applications for such travel, mostly from investors in agriculture, manufacturing, mining and tourism, 3,113 had been approved, according to the department.
"These numbers show that on an average, 335 investors a day applied to visit the Republic, sending a strong message that South Africa remains an attractive investment destination," it asserted.