Update: Advice for travellers returning from countries with widespread sustained (ongoing) transmission

What To Do When You Return To South Africa?

Stay at home for 14 days from the time you left an area with widespread ongoing community transmission and practice social distancing.

It is advised that you stay at home during the monitoring period. To protect those around you:

  • Clean your hands frequently, using an alcohol-based hand rub or soap and water and wash for 20 seconds.
  • Keep a distance from healthy individuals (not showing respiratory symptoms) as much as possible (at least 1 meter).
  • Cover your mouth and nose when coughing or sneezing with a disposable paper tissue, or cough and sneeze onto your flexed elbow. Dispose of the material after use and clean your hands immediately with soap and water or an alcohol-based hand rub.
  • Improve airflow in living spaces at home by opening windows and doors as much as possible.
  • Take your temperature with a thermometer two times a day and monitor for fever. Also, watch for coughing or trouble breathing.
  • Stay at home and avoid contact with others. Do not go to work or school for a the 14-day period. Discuss your work situation with your employer before returning to work.
  • Do not use public transportation, such as taxis or trains during the time you are practising social distancing.
  • Avoid crowded places (such as shopping centres and movie theatres) and limit your activities in public

What To Do If You Get Sick?

If you get sick with fever, are coughing, experiencing a sore throat or have trouble breathing:

  • Seek medical care. Call ahead before you go to a doctor’s office or emergency room.
  • Tell your doctor about your recent travel history and your symptoms.
  • Avoid contact with others.

If you seek medical care for other reasons, such as dialysis, call ahead to your doctor and tell them about your recent travel to an area with widespread or ongoing community transmission of COVID-19.

Clarification on the testing of asymptomatic persons travelling from high-risk areas

The benefit of testing people who may have been exposed but are still asymptomatic is still unclear. While in some cases it is warranted, for example, those who were repatriated from Wuhan, the sheer number of people who have travelled in the last 14 days from high-risk countries could overwhelm the country’s laboratory services. It would also cause delays for those in genuine need of testing and deplete the limited global supply of testing kits. We would, therefore, like to clarify the role of testing. Only those who have returned to South Africa from countries with local transmission within the last 14 days AND who have developed some respiratory symptoms should be tested for COVID-19. People without symptoms do not need to be tested. All individuals returning from high and medium risk countries are requested to self-quarantine for 14 days and monitor for respiratory symptoms. Should symptoms develop, they should present for testing.

For additional questions on monitoring your health contact the COVID-19 Public Hotline: 0800 029 999.


Publish date: 2020/03/18