UK to use SA data and input when reviewing status on Covid-19 travel red list

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  • The UK recently announced that South Africa would remain on its Covid-19 travel red list.
  • UK and SA government scientific experts met on Monday to discuss the latest Covid-19 trends.
  • The insights provided at the meeting will feed into the next review of UK border measures, which will take place within a fortnight.

The United Kingdom will be using data and expertise from South Africa when it reviews its Covid-19 travel red list.

This comes after the UK updated its international travel rules, announcing that eight countries, including Kenya and Egypt, will be moved from the red to the amber list. At the same time, South Africa will remain on the red list.

READ | SA govt holds talks with UK on travel, vaccine policies

News24 previously reported this meant that if a traveller had been to South Africa in the last 10 days, they will only be allowed to enter the UK if they were a British or Irish national or if they had residence rights in the UK.

The decision to keep South Africa on the UK travel red list drew the ire of scientists and medical professionals in the country, who called the decision irrational.

Experts said the UK's decision was not rooted in science, especially given that some of the countries removed from the red list had higher caseloads and less testing and tracing than South Africa.

"It's quite arbitrary like people are picking and choosing their favourites. From a medical and scientific perspective, it really doesn't make any sense. I believe given the economic ramification for the country and tourism, the UK must give us an explanation. It's super flimsy and they owe us an explanation," infectious diseases specialist Dr Alastair McAlpine said.

READ | UK travel ban: SA scientists to 'educate' UK counterparts about the country - Prof Glenda Gray

Vaccine certificates

Following the criticism, UK and SA government scientific experts met on Monday to discuss the latest Covid-19 trends, including Covid-19 testing strategies and the prevalence and risks posed to vaccination programmes by variants of concern.

This is according to a joint statement by the National Department of Health and the British High Commission in South Africa.

"The UK and SA are both leading scientific nations, and the meeting was initiated by the UK High Commission and South African government to ensure the most up-to-date and accurate sharing of information," the statement read.

"The UK side expressed its gratitude to SA experts for their willingness to share both data and expertise."

The insights provided at the meeting will feed into the next review of Britain's border measures, which will take place within the next fortnight.

Experts from both countries also discussed the recognition of vaccine certificates.

"The UK side explained that, following some initial pilots, it was now seeking to extend its recognition of vaccine certificates around the world as rapidly as possible," the statement read.

The UK also allegedly expressed its willingness to take forward discussions with the South African government on this matter.

"The UK and SA governments both support and recognise the importance of vaccination as a way out of the Covid-19 pandemic."

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