20 July 2020 - NW1307
McGluwa, Mr JJ to ask the Minister of Home Affairs
(1) Whether, in view of his admission during a meeting of the Portfolio Committee on Home Affairs on 9 June 2020 that he knew of Covid-19 from other countries, he will confirm that he was aware of the outbreak of Covid-19 since November 2019; (2) what steps did he take to prevent (a) Chinese nationals from travelling to the Republic at that stage and (b) residents of Wuhan specifically from travelling to the Republic; (3) whether his department put any measures in place in response to the Covid-19 pandemic when he became aware of the outbreak in November 2019?
1. The central government of China imposed a lockdown in Wuhan and other cities in Hubei on 23 January 2020. This was followed by a declaration by the World Health Organisation (WHO) on 11 March 2020 that declared the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak a global pandemic. The knowledge thus held by the Minister would be similar to any other person with access to international and social media regarding the manifestation of the virus (COVID-19).
2. (a) None as the central government of China imposed a lockdown in Wuhan and other cities in Hubei on 23 January 2020. This meant no travel in or out of the city was allowed.
In addition to the lockdown, the following should be noted:
- South African Airways (SAA) terminated operations from Beijing Capital International Airport to O.R. Tambo International Airport (ORTIA) in November 2019.
- Air China (CA) operated direct flights from Bao'an (Huangtian) International Airport in Shenzhen and Beijing Capital International Airport to ORTIA daily.
- Cathy Pacific (CX) operated from Hong Kong International Airport (HKG) to ORTIA. During the period of the Corona outbreak, all travellers arriving at HKG from China who spend more than 14 days in China were returned.
- Singapore Airlines (SQ) operated from Singapore Changi Airport (SIN) to ORTIA. With the outbreak in China, all travellers arriving at SIN from China who spend more than 14 days in China were returned.
- Japan and South Korea also informed South Africa through diplomatic channels that South African citizens arriving from China who spend more than 14 days in China during that period would be returned to China. This was followed by more than 30 other countries.
Upon arrival in South Africa, Port Health screens all travellers (including Chinese Nationals) on international flights before admission into the country.
The declaration by the World Health Organisation (WHO) on 11 March 2020 that declared the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak a global pandemic was followed by an announcement by the President of the Republic of South Africa declaring a national state of disaster on 26 March 2020.
3. Since the state of disaster declared by the President of the Republic of South Africa on 26 March 2020, all borders remain closed except for limited categories of movement as provided for in the Disaster Management Act and Regulations.