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SA travel restrictions versus these five Covid-19 hot-spot countries

Picture: Supplied

Picture: Supplied

Published May 10, 2021


SOUTH Africa seems likely to experience a third wave as infection markers start showing increases in certain provinces. Despite the surges in infections, there are no domestic or international travel restrictions.

Here’s a list of the five most affected countries by Covid-19 and South Africa’s travel restrictions to and from:

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The US

Being one of the largest countries in the world, the US had the most Covid-19 infections through a large chunk of the pandemic, statistically making it the most affected country in the world with a total of 32 632 099 Covid-19 infections (21% of the world’s total).

The US experienced its biggest surge in Covid-19 infections during the festive period – December and January – with a peak average daily 300 669 infections recorded on the January 8.

The country has seen a downward trend of Covid-19 infections with an average of 47 325 reported daily Covid-19 infections. The US has the second most vaccinations administered in the world which may help contain further outbreaks.

Travel Restrictions

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The US has closed its borders to South African tourists, however the US has added South Africa to its list of National Interest Exceptions (NIE) which allows certain South Africans with specific skills, occupations and visas to enter the country.

Travellers from the US are permitted to enter South Africa as long as all health and safety protocols are followed and a negative Covid-19 certificate is presented.


India is going through one of the biggest Covid-19 infections surges a country has ever seen with its second wave causing a devastating outbreak.

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On the May 6, India recorded 414 188 Covid-19 infections in a single day making an average of 389 803 daily infections for the past week.

India has a total of 21 491 598 Covid-19 infections (13.7% of the world’s total) and continues to display an upward trend.

Travel Restrictions:

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All international flights into India have been suspended in response to the Covid-19 outbreak until May 31 according to Airport Technology except for an agreement between India and the UK.

Addressing the Covid-19 outbreak taking place in India, South African Health Minister Zweli Mkhize, said there were no direct flights from India and that the department had also consulted the ministerial advisory committee on managing travellers from countries that have epidemics driven by variants of concern. However, travellers can still enter South Africa via other states from India.


Brazil faces a third wave of Covid-19 recording an average of 58 984 daily Covid-19 infections in the past week with 73 380 recorded on the May 6.

The country has a total of 15 003 563 Covid-19 infections (9.6% of the world’s total) and recorded one of the highest deaths in a single day of 4 249 on April 8.

Although Brazil displays a slight downward trend in Covid-19 infections, Covid-19 three waves formed close to one another since the initial outbreak.

Travel Restrictions:

Brazilian government announced its ban of flights from South Africa in response to the discovery of the 501Y.V2 variant however, South Africa does not have any specific restrictions for travellers from Brazil.


France recorded a total of 5 728 090 Covid-19 infections (3.7% of the world’s total) with its most recent surge peaking on April 8.

The country recorded 84 999 Covid-19 infections in a single day on April 8 with an average of 34 882 infections per day for that week.

The initial outbreak April last year, was quickly contained by France who saw lower number of infections until a surge hit the country in August and peaked on 7 November last year, with a record of 86 852 infections on that day, which is lower than the most recent peak.

Travel Restrictions:

French borders were made open to travellers from South Africa as of the April 24 but requires a 10-day quarantine according to Reuters.

South Africa has imposed no restrictions specifically for travellers from France.


Turkey is in the process of recovering from a second wave of Covid-19 recording a total of 4 977 982 Covid-19 infections (3.2% of the world’s total).

The country saw the peak of its second wave on April 16, recording 63 082 infections on that single day with a daily average of 57 796 infections for that past week.

Although the country is slowly recovering from the second surge in infections, Turkey still displays an average of 350 Covid-19 deaths for the past week.

Travel Restrictions: Travellers from South Africa are permitted entry into Turkey with the presentation of a negative PCR test within 72 hours of departure to the country.

South Africa has no imposed restrictions specifically for travellers from Turkey.

With the easing of Covid-19 restrictions South Africa’s borders are open to international travel entering the country. Strict health and safety protocols need to be adhered to at all times however certain ports of entry remain closed with only five airports allowing international travel.

According to Travelstart, these are the international entry requirements into South Africa:

  • Valid passport and e-Ticket.
  • *Visa to enter South Africa (if applicable).
  • Upon arrival into South Africa, all travellers must present a negative PCR or Covid-19 test certificate not older than 72 hours from departure time from the country of origin.Tests must be conducted and signed by a certified medical practitioner. South African authorities reserve the right to verify the authenticity of test certificates.
  • Passengers and crew entering South Africa via Joburg must fill in the digital travel health questionnaire here. Once completed, you will be issued a unique number (look-up ID), to present to the Port Health Officers as part of the screening process, along with any other entry requirements.
  • Children below the age of 5 years do not need to provide a PCR test. Children over 5 years must produce a negative PCR test to enter South Africa. Should your child display positive symptoms or a parent tests positive while in South Africa, children below 6 years old may self-isolate with the parent without needing a test. Children under 2 years old do not have to wear masks on aeroplanes.
  • Any traveller who exhibits Covid-19 symptoms when screened upon arrival will be required to take a Covid-19 test at their own expense. Should the test display positive results, travellers will be subject to mandatory quarantine for 10 days at their own expense.
  • All travellers must complete an entry health screen Form either prior to or on arrival.
  • All travellers will be screened by Port Health Officials upon arrival and departure. Those presenting symptoms must remain in quarantine until a repeat Covid-19 test is carried out.
  • All travellers must wear masks at all times within the airport or port of entry. Children below six years old do not need to wear face masks in public spaces.
  • Travellers must show proof of accommodation or address in South Africa in the event self-quarantine is required.
  • The following airports are open for international travel: OR Tambo in Joburg, Lanseria Airport in Joburg, King Shaka in Durban, Cape Town International Airport and Kruger Mpumalanga International Airport in Nelspruit.
  • Long-term visas will be reinstated and South African visa application centres abroad will be opened.
  • Travellers are encouraged to install the Covid Alert SA mobile app.

South African citizens and permanent residents are allowed entry into South Africa regardless of the country they are travelling from provided all entry requirements are adhered to.

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