DA, EFF call on government to ban India-linked travel
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Johannesburg - The DA and the EFF have called for the government to impose travel restrictions on flights linked to travel from India.
The two political parties join a chorus of calls mounting on the government, to take action as India battles a second wave of the pandemic – which has seen more than 300 000 cases reported in a single day.
There were also concerns about a variant detected in the country, which could be driving rising cases. Countries like the US, UK and Australia have placed a temporary ban on flights from India.
Health Minister Dr Zweli Mkhize has poured caution on calls for a travel ban from India. He explained that the country does not have direct flights from India.
The minister said he was seeking advice from the ministerial advisory committee, on how to handle cases being reported at the country's ports of entry.
The B.1.617 variant, first identified in India, has not been detected in the country, Mkhize said.
The DA said it would be irresponsible for the government to wait until the B.1.617 variant is detected in SA, before travel linked to India is banned.
"It would be reckless of the government to only implement measures after this variant may hit our shores. A reactionary approach, at this stage, would be criminal – especially since there has not yet been any real clarity on the severity of B.1.617 and whether current vaccines are effective against the strain," said DA MP Angel Khanyile.
"Further to this, South Africa’s vaccine roll-out has been non-existent up until this point. We simply cannot afford to another brutal wave of Covid-19 infections, which will cost lives, nor another hard lockdown, which will cost livelihoods," said Khanyile.
The EFF said that while it sympathises with Indian citizens, SA could not afford a third wave to be driven by a new variant.
The party hit out at the government for acting quicker in banning travel with neighbouring countries, than it has been with international travel.
"The EFF calls for a travel ban to be placed on all travel from India, due to the deadly B.1.617 strain of coronavirus that is wreaking havoc in India. Over the past few days, we have seen reports of passengers who came to South Africa from India, who have tested positive for Covid-19," the party said.
"This is a blatant failure by this government to follow global trends of the virus, and act accordingly to protect life," added the EFF.