What is the procedure for travellers in South Africa to present themselves to be tested? By when and how do travellers present themselves to be tested?

Government has stated that all travellers who have entered South Africa from high-risk countries since mid-February will be required to present themselves for testing.

Travellers who must present themselves for testing should phone the National Institute for Communicable Diseases (NICD) toll-free hotline (080 002 9999), or a nearby healthcare facility to receive advice on what to do and where to go for testing.

Despite the directive to test all individuals from high-risk countries, health centres may have a different threshold for testing and may not conduct tests on those who are asymptomatic or on the ‘worried well’.

For instance, you may be told that you have to show symptoms such as a dry cough, fever and myalgia (fatigue) AND fall into one of the following categories, according to NICD:

  • Been in contact with someone who has COVID-19;
  • Have travelled to a country where you have a high risk of getting infected (this will be based on the latest reports from WHO and NICD);
  • Have worked in or been to a healthcare facility treating people with COVID-19; or
  • Have a severe case of pneumonia with an unknown cause

Testing is widely available – it costs around R1200 in the private sector (Lancet Laboratories announced a fee of R1400) and is free in the public sector. But know that due to the high number of specimens to test, there is a backlog at the moment in the public sector.

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