South African Health Minister Zweli Mkhize said concern over what was happening in India was “understandable”
There is no direct risk of COVID-19 infections in South Africa from India, Health Minister Zweli Mkhize said, assuring the population that appropriate vigilance would be exercised for those who come from India via other countries.
Mr Mkhize made the observations during a briefing before the Parliament’s Health Portfolio Committee.
“I want to assure you that we are aware of this situation, but we have to be aware that there is no direct flight from India that would suddenly offload so many people as such,” Mr. Mkhize on April 27.
Speaking a day after Belgium imposed a ban on Indian and South African citizens from entering the country, Mr Mkhize said due vigilance would be exercised for those arriving in South Africa from India via other countries.
“The problem with all these restrictions on the part of the countries is that people can go through other parts of the world and by the time they get here they won’t show anything directly from India, so it’s a problem that we just have to keep in mind.
“We have been monitoring this situation and we do not yet have any indication that there is a direct risk to South Africa in this regard, but we will continue to monitor the situation,” Mkhize said.
The minister said similar problems have been encountered in the UK, Europe and America so South Africa just needs to be very vigilant in dealing with this kind of situation.
He said the concern about what was going on in India was “understandable”.
“India is going through a huge wave and the number of people infected per day is huge and [because of] those who die, we see people panicking, saying that maybe that number is underestimated, ”he said.
“I think I understand the panic. We would all be worried if such a situation did not occur in our country.
“I would like to align myself with those who express their sympathy and support for India and their condolences on the wave and we understand that this could affect any country as such,” he said.
Reacting to widespread social media posts expressing concern over the average of 200 travelers per day entering South Africa from India via other countries, Mr Mkhize stressed that there was no theft. direct to South Africa from India.
“I saw a lot of things circulating in WhatsApp groups that the government was not aware of [of this] and thefts are not monitored, etc.
“We don’t have a flight from India [but] we require PCR tests for people who arrive, so we will check if people come from other parts of the world with positive reports, ”said the minister.
“I also asked my team to check if there was a way to find out who came from India just to check that everything is fine and if there is anything we need to be worried about,” said Mr. Mkhize.
The minister also said there was no cause for alarm after reports of other variants appearing in other parts of Africa, particularly in Tanzania.
“We haven’t shown this product much in this country yet, although we have seen it exported to other parts of the continent,” he said.