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NC airport equipped to deal with the virus

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No foreign nationals from these countries will be allowed through South African ports of entry, including airports, sea ports and railways

THE MINISTER of Transport, Fikile Mbalula, yesterday identified Upington International Airport in the Northern Cape as a facility that is equipped to manage suspected cases of coronavirus.

He also pointed out that aviation is a high-risk sector that facilitates the rapid spread of the virus.

President Cyril Ramaphosa imposed travel bans from high-risk countries, including Italy, Iran, South Korea, Spain, Germany, the United States, the United Kingdom and China, which will come into effect from tomorrow.

No foreign nationals from these countries will be allowed through South African ports of entry, including airports, sea ports and railways.

Mbalula stated that a charter operator carrying a suspected coronavirus patient would be re-routed to international airports that had port health capability.

OR Tambo, Lanseria, King Shaka, Upington, Polokwane, Braam Fisher, Kruger Mpumalanga International, Pilanesberg, Port Elizabeth and Cape Town airports have been identified as having the necessary capacity to handle re-routed charter flights.

“The Civil Aviation Authority has issued guidelines for infection control for all airlines in respect of passenger, cargo and baggage handling that are guided by the World Health Organization.

“The Civil Aviation Authority will conduct ramp inspections on all identified high-risk airlines.”

Mbalula added that the Cross Border Road Transport Agency (CBRTA) would work with border and health authorities to screen truck drivers and commercial freight, bus, tour and taxi operators at all inland borders.

All non-essential cross border movement is being discouraged.

Mbalula said desktop exercises were carried out across all airports, in accordance with the World Health Organization (WHO) advisory to ensure that screening measures to limit the risk of exportation or importation of the disease are implemented, without unnecessary restrictions to international traffic.

He stated that the Airports Company South Africa (Acsa) had since procured and distributed masks for all front-line staff at all Acsa airports.

“As an integral part in the airport operations value chain, all airlines and ground handling staff carrying out assisted passenger services, specifically passengers with reduced mobility, are required to use personal protective equipment (PPE) including surgical masks and gloves when facilitating arriving international passengers.”

Mbalula said that passenger-facing personnel, particularly all international arrivals, transfers terminal and the domestic recheck, were required to use PPE (surgical masks and gloves).

“All handling agent staff that are at a high risk of contact, including, but not limited to passenger escorting, VIP services facilitation, ticket sales, baggage handling and loading, aircraft grooming, catering services, cargo handling agents, bus drivers and crew transport drivers are required to wear PPE.” .

Mbalula indicated that passenger buses were required to implement additional cleaning and sanitation measures.