South Africa to Make COVID-19 Screening Easier for Travellers
The Department of Health plans to launch a new digital screening pilot project which will allow travellers to complete a required travel health questionnaire (THQ) on their personal devices ahead of their arrival at ports of entry.
The move from paper-based screening systems to a digitized screening solution will take place in a phased approach, the department said.
“The web-based THQ platform will complement and strengthen the existing method of screening and surveillance at ports of entry, as a user-friendly tool allowing travellers to complete the travel health questionnaire on their personal devices prior to their travel,” it said.
How it works
The web-based travel screening solution will allow travellers to complete their travel and symptomatic information at any time from two days ahead of their journey to ensure that the exposure and symptoms information provided is relevant.
Once completed, the traveller will receive a unique number (look-up ID) which they will present to the Port Health official at the respective port of entry to proceed with the screening process.
Over time, as more travellers use this system it can save them time and help fast-track screening at ports of entry.
The department said it will introduce through a pilot, a digitized screening system for international travellers arriving and departing from South Africa.
As of the 17 December 2020, international travellers arriving at O.R Tambo International Airport, those departing from Cape Town International Airport, those entering the country through Beit Bridge land border and those exiting through Maseru Bridge land border will be expected to complete the web-based THQ.
The paper-based system for Covid-19 screening will continue to be in operation at all other operational ports of entry, the department said.
“This system will play a critical role in assisting Port Health with managing travellers, identifying potential high-risk travellers and to respond effectively.”
Security of personal information was one of the top priorities throughout the development of this system. Accordingly, best practice guidelines as per the POPI Act are followed to protect all traveller’s personal information at all times.
Why it’s being introduced
The department said that the travel system will provide ‘additional armour’ to better manage and survey travellers to prevent importation and exporting of the virus.
The system will also provide better data collection and storage which can be helpful with identifying potential high-risk travellers, it said.
“An algorithm that helps determine the risk profile of travellers is embedded in the system. In the event of a positive case, the system will assist with identifying potentially exposed travellers who were in proximity to the positive case, further assisting with better contact tracing.”
The department said that the new travel system will go live from midday on 15 December to allow travellers to complete the web-based form ahead of their travel, It can be accessed through this link.
Travellers who have already booked their tickets can still access the web-based THQ at any time after the system goes live, the department said.
It added that travellers will still be subjected to the screening protocols in ports of entry, including temperature screening and are still required to present a negative Covid-19 PCR test result obtained not more than 72 hours from time of departure.
Travellers arriving into South Africa are also required to download the Covid Alert SA application on their mobile phones.
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