South Africa: Foreign Migrants Must Be Included in Covid-19 Response


International solidarity, travel restrictions and the right to remain: why South Africa needs to actively engage all foreign migrants in its response to Covid-19.

It is a well-established fact that for infectious disease control measures to stand any chance of success, they need to reach everyone. This is no different in the case of Covid-19 in South Africa, yet our response to controlling the spread of the virus, and protecting those most vulnerable to infection, continues to exclude marginalised foreign migrants.

Our response to more privileged international tourists and visitors, and those in South Africa for the purposes of work and study, has, however, been far more proactive. Covid-19, as with any other communicable disease, knows no borders and its spread within South and southern Africa is inevitable. We need to slow down the spread of infection so that our region's already over-burdened and struggling health systems have a chance to respond.

International travel restrictions

On Sunday 15 March 2020, President Cyril Ramaphosa announced the National State of Disaster in terms of the Disaster Management Act, outlining a number of drastic steps to try and curb the spread of Covid-19. On Wednesday 18 March 2020, some of these actions came...

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