The famed Christ the Redeemer statue in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.(Photo by Mario Tama/Getty Images)
  • Tourists from a new list of high-risk countries won’t be allowed in South Africa.
  • The list – announced by minister of home affairs Aaron Motsoaledi at a press briefing - initially excluded Brazil, which has the third-highest number of infections in the world.
  • That was a mistake, says Motsoaledi now.
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On Wednesday afternoon, government announced that no tourists will be allowed from a list of high-risk countries. The list excluded Brazil which, at almost 4.8 million cases of Covid-19, currently has the third-highest caseload in the world. Almost 143,000 Brazilians have died from the disease.

But a few hours later, minister of home affairs Aaron Motsoaledi confirmed that Brazil’s exclusion was an oversight.

“Brazil was definitely on the list of countries regarded as high risk,” he told News24.

He said it had been an error on his part that he did not list Brazil as one of the high-risk countries - for which he “profusely apologises”.

“It was my fault because I did not read the column that listed Brazil. It was a mistake. Brazil was definitely on that list,” Motsoaledi said.

It was not the first mistake with the list. When it was first announced at a briefing on Wednesday, only countries in the later part of the alphabet were included.  

A few minutes later, Motsoaledi apologised; it turned out he excluded some 30 countries after he overlooked the first columns.

Click here for the list of countries considered high risk

South Africa developed its own level of coronavirus risk to determine what countries are considered high, medium, or low risk, international relations minister Naledi Pandor said at the briefing.

Those with significantly higher levels of infection spread and deaths than South Africa will be rated as high risk – and leisure travellers from those countries will not be permitted entry into South Africa.

The only exceptions will be those with high-skills visas, diplomats, sports people, and investors.

All countries on the African continent automatically fall outside the high-risk category, ministers said, so tourists will be allowed to travel to and from those countries regardless of their SARS-CoV-2 statistics.

"If the passport of the traveller from a high risk country indicates that he/she has spent 10 days or more in a low risk country before departure, he/she will be considered to be arriving from a low risk country," one government statement said.

The list will be reviewed every two weeks, Pandor said, based on seven days worth of data.

All travellers, including those from elsewhere in Africa, will be required to present a negative test result for the coronavirus that is less than 72 hours old, or face quarantine.

Compiled by Qaanitah Hunter and Phillip de Wet

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