International relations and co-operation minister Naledi Pandor has cautioned South Africans travelling to countries where Covid-19 is surging that they could be stranded if international flights are cancelled.
Pandor was speaking during Monday’s briefing on international developments for 2020.
She said more than 30,000 South Africans stranded across the globe during the initial wave of the pandemic had to be repatriated, using more than 350 flights, between the level 5 lockdown in March and the time when international travel was allowed again under level 1 in SA.
“The number excludes tens of thousands who used our land borders,” she said.
“This experience has made us realise the importance of making sure we equip all South Africans who intend travelling abroad during this season with information that might help them not find themselves needing to be repatriated because they are stranded.
“Countries in the northern hemisphere are encountering a second wave of the pandemic. South Africans should be cautious about travelling to these countries as you might become distressed or even destitute abroad pending the levels of lockdown in the respective countries, and with the likelihood of international flights that might be cancelled at short notice.
“Please note you will be travelling at your own risk to these countries, knowing the current circumstances and the uncertainty going forward,” she said.
Pandor urged travellers to become familiar with the immigration and health entry requirements of the country they planned to visit. If unsure, they should contact that country’s embassy in SA.
Travellers were also urged to:
- ensure they had adequate travel and health insurance;
- register with South African embassies abroad; and
- know the Covid-19 protocols observed in the country being visited.
“Although not yet common, many airlines will likely require proof of Covid-19 vaccinations before commencing travel. Currently a Covid-19 test is compulsory.”