KwaZulu-Natal Premier Sihle Zikalala. Picture: Bongani Mbatha/African News Agency (ANA)
KwaZulu-Natal Premier Sihle Zikalala. Picture: Bongani Mbatha/African News Agency (ANA)

Covid-19: Tourism groups face scrutiny over taking in tourist from high-risk countries

By SIHLE MAVUSO Time of article published Mar 24, 2020

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Durban - The issue of penalising KwaZulu-Natal tourism establishments that continue to take in tourists from countries that are high risk for Covid-19, despite the ban by the government, has been escalated to the province’s security cluster.

The provincial government said this on Monday following a meeting with religious leaders in Durban to ask them for their co-operation in helping to contain the Covid-19 outbreak, which has left 60 people infected in KZN and 402 across the country.

During the media briefing, Premier Sihle Zikalala, assisted by the MEC for Health, Nomagugu Simelane-Zulu, were asked what punishment would be meted out to these establishments.

Two tourists who took up accommodation in unstaffed establishments in the northern KZN resort town of St Lucia tested positive, and are currently in isolation at Manguzi hospital.

Simelane-Zulu said they had played their part and the matter was now with the “security cluster” to deal with.

“The security cluster has a responsibility to implement the decisions of the president, and that is what we are emphasising to them, and that is what we are calling on them to do. We had an engagement today with the MEC for community safety, and he has started to ensure that his people are ready should there be cases that come up,” she said.

Zikalala later weighed in on the conversation and said that on top of the security cluster stepping in, local tourism accreditation agencies would get involved.

“Once one lodge goes against the prescripts, they have got an association there is a body that deals with their accreditation, which, as the government, we need to activate and ensure that we deal with them. And then deal with them from the law enforcement part,” Zikalala said.

Despite indications that the establishments would be taken to task for their defiance, Zikalala was very vague when dealing with the issue of the MSC cruise company.

On Monday last week a vessel used by the company embarked from Durban on a cruise to the Portuguese Islands in Mozambique with more than 4000 people of different nationalities on board. This was despite the ban on travel for large groups.

At the time, Zikalala downplayed the issue and said it was the result of miscommunication, and that all those on the cruise would be tested upon their return. However, it appears that one infected South African citizen from Newcastle slipped through the cracks, and was diagnosed days later.

Asked how the Newcastle patient went undetected, Zikalala said a full report - that was expected before the end of this week - would shed light on the matter.

“Allow us to deal with the issue of MSC as a holistic issue, and maybe towards the end of the week we can then give you a comprehensive report,” he said.

Political Bureau

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