Interview with Face to Face, CitiTube.
The outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic, which led to many countries closing their borders and instituting lockdowns, has left many citizens stranded across the globe. Last week, reports from the Malawian border with Mozambique, said over nine buses ferrying Malawian repatriates from South Africa, has crossed the Mozambique side of the border into Malawi, but are now stranded in no-man’s land. Authorities on the Malawi side have apparently not given the go-ahead and clarity, whether the repatriates should be let free to join their families or get tested and quarantined first. Meanwhile the International Organisation for Migration says thousands of African migrants are stuck in their countries of destination.
People from other countries may be reluctant to present for testing or to report contacts that hold an irregular documentation status for fear of arrest. We need a blanket amnesty to ensure that all in South Africa feel safe to participate in testing and for effective contact tracing.
VIDEO: Unfiltered: Coronavirus ACMS Associate Professor Jo Vearey was recently part of an interview panel on the SABC News Unfiltered talk show that discussed migration and Covid-19 in South Africa. You can watch the conversation here.
As Europe shuts down in response to the spread of COVID-19, other African countries are just beginning to grapple with the early signs of the pandemic. In this show, we discuss the COVID-19 response in South Africa, where an impending winter, a long history of the HIV-AIDS pandemic, and xenophobic attitudes are combining to generate some surprising and unexpected responses to the crisis. Leading Public Health specialist, Professor Jo Vearey chats to Abbey Steele and Darshan Vigneswaran. Click here to listen to the podcast.
Whether the apparent lack of consideration of foreign migrants is a result of their continued exclusion in public health planning, or due to the initial cases of Covid-19 identified in South Africa being imported from outside of the African continent, is irrelevant. Perhaps the tables have turned and recognition of the ways in which international tourist travel can be associated with the spread of infectious diseases has been brought to light, challenging and perhaps even silencing, at least for now, the pervasive blaming of foreign migrants for the health challenges faced in South Africa.
An effective response to South Africa’s coronavirus outbreak is an inclusive response.
This keeps migrants safe and it keeps everyone in South Africa healthy. It reduces the need for people to cross the border through irregular routes that may not only be dangerous but do not have the healthcare workers needed to screen people for the new virus.
Effective management of this public health crisis will involve all of us. This would truly be a case of, what Home Affairs Minister Aaron Motsoaledi recently called, “international solidarity”.