EFF joins calls for a travel ban on India amid growing concerns over new Covid-19 variant

The B.1.617 variant, which was first detected in India, has already been reported in 17 countries, including Germany, Belgium, the UK, Switzerland, Singapore and Fiji.
The B.1.617 variant, which was first detected in India, has already been reported in 17 countries, including Germany, Belgium, the UK, Switzerland, Singapore and Fiji.
Image: 123RF/maridav

The EFF has joined calls for the government to implement a travel ban on India amid concerns over the new Covid-19 variant circulating in that country and other parts of the world. 

Over the last few days, there have been growing concerns over the new Covid-19 variant, B.1.617, which was first detected in India.

Fears that the variant may have spread to SA, after a person who recently travelled from India to SA was being treated for Covid-19 in a KwaZulu-Natal hospital and 14 crew members of a cargo bulk carrier that sailed to Durban from India tested positive for Covid-19.

The variant has already been reported in 17 countries, including Germany, Belgium, the UK, Switzerland, Singapore and Fiji.

“We call on the SA government to practise foresight, by closing access to India as they battle this deadly virus and quarantine all those who have entered SA from the country in state facilities and under state supervision,” said EFF spokesperson Vuyani Pambo.

Pambo said the situation in India must serve as a warning to the SA government that there does not need to be deaths before life-saving decisions are made.

“This is a blatant failure by this government to follow global trends of the virus and act accordingly to protect life, and is consistent with the generally reactive approach by those leading this country, where they want an exhibition of disaster and death before making necessary decisions,” he said. 

“Their lack of response and necessary policy intervention to ensure the variant that exists in India does not spread in SA is no different from their childish response in March 2020, when they refused to utilise state resources to quarantine the 11 passengers from Italy and opted to allow them to self-quarantine.”

DA MP and shadow minister of home affairs Angel Khanyile said it would be reckless of the government to only implement measures after the variant hit SA's shores. 

 

Khanyile said the government should immediately impose travelling restrictions on travellers from India.

She said repatriation flights from that country should be allowed to transport South Africans back home, only if travellers self-quarantine for two weeks or produce a negative Covid-19 test taken after arrival in SA, not before leaving.

“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 Khanyile. 


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