The OR Tambo International Airport, South Africa’s busiest airport, is screening travellers for the deadly coronavirus.
MPs on Friday conducted an oversight visit at the airport, and reported being impressed with the measures.
Members of the Portfolio Committee on Health were escorted by officials from the health department, customs, Airports Company of South Africa and World Health Organisation as they inspected their readiness to identify passengers who show symptoms of the deadly virus.
South Africa confirmed its first case of the coronavirus on Thursday – a man in Hilton, KwaZulu-Natal, is in quarantine. He arrived from Italy in early March via Dubai.
“We were very happy to see what we saw. They were screening passengers after they got off the plane, after the passport check and another check when you collected your baggage. You really cannot miss being screened there,” committee chairperson, Dr Sibongiseni Dhlomo, told News24.
Dhlomo said he was confident officials would not miss any passenger showing symptoms, adding passengers arriving back in the country, who were asymptomatic, would likely make it through the screening process.
DA MP Siviwe Gwarube was also satisfied with the measures taken to guard against infected people being allowed through the airport but expressed concern about whether these measures were being replicated at other airports and seaports.
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“We see the Department of Health has upped the ante in terms of putting two screening measures in place, especially from high-risk airlines. It has initial and secondary screening … I was concerned about whether this was happening elsewhere.”
On Thursday, the department confirmed a 38-year-old man had tested positive for the virus after returning home from a trip to Italy. The man had only shown symptoms after he arrived back home in KwaZulu-Natal.