Pretoria – South African Airways (SAA) has introduced new procedures for travel to and from Ebola virus high risk areas with passengers required to seek permission to travel from the national Department of Health.
“All travellers between South Africa and the Ebola high-risk areas in West Africa must follow the new procedures introduced for the airlines aimed at ensuring compliance with a recent cabinet decision.
“The measures are effective as we speak,” SAA spokesperson Tlali Tlali said on Friday.
Government has previously advised South Africans to avoid all non-essential travel to Liberia, Guinea or Sierra Leone but in cases where travel is absolutely essential, permission must be obtained from the relevant authorities.
The new procedures state that all intending travellers must request permission to travel from South Africa to the high risk areas or from the high risk areas to South Africa.
Permission to travel must be sought from the national Department of Health. All requests from travellers must be addressed to the Director-General: Health, for the attention of Dr Frew Benson and sent to the following address: Nathoc1@health.gov.za and Nathoc2@health.gov.za;Tel: (012) 395-9367 or (012) 395-9366.
The following information must be provided when requesting permission
Full personal details, including residential addresses of South
African citizens or in the case of non-South Africans, the address
of residence while in South Africa (ie, hotel, etc.); Next of kin
details in the case of South African citizens; Full details of the
reasons for travel to or from South Africa; The traveller must
complete a Traveller Health Questionnaire and submit it with the
request to travel; A written response from the national Department
of Health will be provided informing the applicant of the outcome
of their request to travel.
However, travel restrictions do not apply to all five destinations namely Benin, Ghana, Ivory Coast, Nigeria and Senegal that SAA flies to in West Africa.
“None of them fall under high-risk category. Our schedule to those destinations remains unaffected,” explained Tlali.
SAA remains committed to ensuring the enforcement of national and international health protocols associated with air transport in the interests of its passengers and the destinations it flies to.
Last week, Health Minister Aaron Motsoaledi announced that South Africa has taken the decision to impose a total travel ban for all non-citizens traveling from identified high risk countries to limit the spread of Ebola to the country, unless the travel is considered absolutely essential.
Addressing media at a briefing in Pretoria, Minister Motsoaledi said in addition, citizens of South Africa who wish to travel to these countries will be requested to delay their travel unless it is also
absolutely essential for them to travel.
The Minister was briefing media following a Cabinet meeting on Wednesday, where he presented an update on the Ebola outbreak.
Over 1 000 people have died from the virus in West Africa, according to the World Health Organisation. Liberia, Guinea and Sierra Leone have each declared the outbreak a national disaster.