AFRICA – South Africa and Nigeria have lifted some COVID-19 restrictions including the requirement to present a negative COVID-19 test for arriving air passengers as the countries COVID-19 test positivity rate remains low.

In South Africa, President Cyril Ramaphosa has declared that wearing of masks is no longer mandatory outdoors when walking on the street or in an open space, when exercising outdoors or when attending an outdoor gathering.

The President stressed that people are still required to wear masks when in shops, malls, offices, factories, taxis, buses, trains or any other indoor public space.

The South African government currently allows both indoor and outdoor venues to hold up to 50 percent of their capacity provided that the criteria for entrance are proof of vaccination or a COVID-19 test not older than 72 hours.

However, the limit on the number of people who can attend a gathering will remain as 1,000 people indoors and 2,000 people outdoors where there is no provision for proof of vaccination or a COVID-19 test.

People can now resume watching sports in stadiums as well as attending music concerts, theatre performances, conferences and other events if vaccinated or have recently tested negative.

The change to the restrictions on gatherings will be of great benefit to the sporting, cultural, entertainment and events industries in particular.

The maximum number of people permitted at a funeral has also increased from 100 to 200 and people are allowed to carry out night vigils, after-funeral gatherings and ‘after-tears’ gatherings.

President Ramaphosa further disclosed his intention to lift the National State of Disaster as soon as public comment on the health regulations published by the Minister of health was completed.

All South Africans are invited to make comments on the draft regulations before the 16th of April,” confirmed the President.

He explained that after the regulations are finalized, they will replace the State of Disaster regulations as the legal instrument that the country uses to manage the COVID-19 pandemic.

Meanwhile, the Nigerian Federal Government has announced that fully vaccinated passengers arriving at all points of entry will no longer be required to take a pre-departure PCR COVID-19 test.

Fully vaccinated passengers will have their sample taken at the airport upon arrival for a free COVID-19 rapid antigen test done by the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) within the arrival hall of the airport.

The rules that apply to fully vaccinated adults also apply to children aged 10 -18 years including the free of charge rapid antigen test done on arrival at the airport.

Moreover, incoming passengers who are unvaccinated or partially vaccinated shall take a COVID-19 PCR test 48 hours before departure or carry out the test on Day 2 and day 7 upon arrival.

The new policy follows the revision of the situations around the world and review of the International Travel Protocols which comes into effect in Nigeria on April 4th 2022.

The lifting of restrictions comes at a crucial time when the Federal Government has made the decision to allow incoming Nigerians evacuated from Ukraine into the country regardless of their COVID-19 vaccination status amid the ongoing Russia-Ukraine War.

Over 8,000 Nigerian residents especially students who were living in Ukraine were forced to disperse to Poland due to the ongoing military onslaught on Ukraine by Russia.

The government has disclosed that 193 out of the about 2,357 Nigerians evacuated from Ukraine and screened for COVID-19 have tested positive for the virus.

The Presidential Steering Committee on COVID- 19 has reported that it is managing the condition of the affected passengers in accordance with the country’s protocol.

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