The South African government says it is “puzzled” at the UK’s decision to keep South Africa on the red list of countries facing stringent restrictions and high costs when entering the UK.
The South African government says it is “puzzled” at the UK’s decision to keep South Africa on the red list of countries facing stringent restrictions and high costs when entering the UK.

South Africa ‘disappointed’ at UK’s Covid-19 red list stance

By Lisa Isaacs Time of article published Sep 20, 2021

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CAPE TOWN - The South African government says it is “puzzled” at the UK’s decision to keep South Africa on the red list of countries facing stringent restrictions and high costs when entering the UK.

The UK government on Friday announced that eight countries, including Bangladesh, Kenya and the Maldives, will move from the red list on September 22, and the rules for international travel to England will change on October 4.

The Department of International Relations and Cooperation (Dirco) said thousands of families and business people in SA and the UK are shocked at the exclusion, especially given SA’s progress in combating the Covid-19 pandemic as evidenced by the rapid decline in infection rates due to the robust vaccination programme and excellent science.

Minister Naledi Pandor said: “We firmly believe there is no reasonable basis for keeping South Africa on the red list and I am very disappointed.”

Pandor added that Dirco, working with other stakeholders will intensify efforts to have SA removed from the list and is optimistic that the UK Government will finally realise that their decision is not harming just the tourism industry but other businesses from both countries.

Professor Adrian Puren of the National Institute for Communicable Diseases said the South African Health Products Regulatory Authority has approved the AstraZeneca, Pfizer and J&J(Jansen) vaccines.

“The vaccines listed have received authorisation from recognised international independent health authorities and SAHPRA’s decision is in line with these authorisations. There are thus no differences between these countries and South Africa.”

SAPHRA interacts with various other independent authorities to share knowledge and information to ensure the highest safety standards, he added.

South African Medical Association chair Dr Angelique Coetzee said the organisation noted the UK’s decision.

“There is no difference between the vaccines that we are receiving in South Africa and Africa. This is (the same as) the other European countries. Pfizer is Pfizer, J&J is J&J, no matter in which country it has been administered.

“There is no reason why vaccinated South Africans should be discriminated against, it's totally unacceptable. The vaccines we are receiving, we have made sure that they would be effective against the Delta variant, and we know that all vaccines are effective against severe disease, so there should be no discrimination.”

The Southern Africa Tourism Services Association described the move as a “kick in the teeth for 1.5 million South African tourism workers who were relying on UK visitors this spring”.

“There isn’t a shred of scientific evidence to support keeping South Africa on the red list. The only conclusion left is that the (UK Government) has an irrational fear of South Africa which is prejudicing decision-making. They need to urgently reconsider this classification to avoid irreparable harm to a relationship with a key ally and trading partner.”

The organisation created a Remove South Africa from the travel 'Red List' petition which has amassed more than 35 000 signatures. Sign the petition: https://petition.parliament.uk/petitions/589382

Cape Times

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