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Health Department updates proof of vaccination requirements after travellers left stranded at OR Tambo airport

Hundreds of travellers entering South Africa were held up at OR Tambo International Airport, after there was confusion about proof of vaccination verifications and QR codes. Picture: The Namibian Facebook

Hundreds of travellers entering South Africa were held up at OR Tambo International Airport, after there was confusion about proof of vaccination verifications and QR codes. Picture: The Namibian Facebook

Published May 27, 2022

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The Department of Health has updated the requirements for verified proof of Covid-19 vaccination cards, after hundreds of travellers were stranded on Thursday at OR Tambo International Airport.

In a statement, the Health Department said it is critical that all inbound travellers should present a valid certificate as proof of vaccination against Covid-19, and that it should be verifiable.

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“Since there is no globally agreed template for proof of vaccination, it has come to our attention that some countries use vaccination cards with a QR Code, while others use certificates with a QR Code as a proof of vaccination.

“Thus, in order to ensure a smooth and fair verification process, without inconveniencing the travellers at the ports of entry, the government will, with effect from today (May 27, 2022), recognise all verifiable vaccination proofs with QR Codes – either paper-based or electronic,” read the statement.

Local airlines were previously informed that a scannable QR code must be presented to officials in order to board a flight, and that they would no longer accept a Covid-19 vaccination card as proof of vaccination.

According to The Namibian, nationals used to be able to fly to South Africa with the paper booklets, however, several travellers were held up at the airport for failing to meet the Covid-19 requirements.

Department of Health spokesperson Foster Mohale said there was an issue of proof of vaccination requirements, at some ports of entry involving international travellers.

“I can confirm that the issue of vaccination card presented a challenge and had to be relooked at because other countries call their certificates cards, unlike in SA,” he said.

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“The details on the certificate/card should correspond with the information of the traveller, as they appear on the passport. However, in cases where the vaccination certificate or card is not verifiable, the department officials have got the right to contact the relevant embassy or High Commission in South Africa, to confirm a type of proof of vaccination issued by respective countries,” he added.

Travellers who are unable to present proof of vaccination are able to use the on-site Covid-19 testing services available. Those who test positive and are experiencing symptoms, will be required to self-isolate.

For South Africans travelling abroad, the department has recommended they must comply with the requirements of the country of destination.

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If you accidentally lost or deleted the EVDS vaccination code that was sent by SMS, you can phone the Covid-19 Public Hotline at 0800 029 999. The agent will be able to provide you with the vaccination code or resend you the SMS with the required code.

There is also the option of sending a message to the WhatsApp support line 0600 123 456 or emailing [email protected]

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