South Africa’s president announced late Monday, 11 January, that the country will close 20 land border posts until February 15 to curb the spread of the novel coronavirus.
“One of the challenges that we have as the festive season draws to a close is the huge congestion at many of our land border posts, Cyril Ramaphosa said in a televised address to the nation.
He said the huge congestion at border posts has exposed many people to COVID-19 infections as they wait to be processed. Local television stations have been showing footage of long queues of trucks and people seeking to enter South Africa from the Beit bridge border post with Zimbabwe waiting for many hours.
“It has been difficult to ensure that the health requirements for entry into South Africa are met, with many people arriving without proof of COVID-19 tests, he said.
To reduce the congestion and the high risk of transmission of COVID-19, the Cabinet decided that the 20 land ports of entry currently open will be closed until February 15 for general entry and departure.
Ramaphosa said some people, however, will still be allowed to enter or depart the country for reasons including the transportation of fuel, cargo and goods, people seeking emergency medical attention for a life-threatening condition, returning South African nationals, permanent residents or persons with other valid visas.
According to African News, South Africa is currently observing level three of its lockdown restrictions. Two weeks ago, Ramaphosa announced tighter restrictions due to the coronavirus pandemic, including possible arrest for not wearing a face mask in public. He also banned the sale of alcohol in a bid to alleviate pressure on hospitals.
The South African leader also announced that only 50 people could attend a funeral and that the nationwide curfew will be extended from 9 p.m. (1900 GMT) to 6 a.m. (0400 GMT).
South Africa, currently battling its second wave of COVID-19, has 1,246,643 confirmed COVID-19 cases and 33,579 deaths. It has the highest number of cases and deaths on the continent and is the 16th most-affected country globally.