Stranded Namibians released from SA airport – The Namibian

South Africa’s port health authorities made a U-turn on its need for verified vaccination cards, as hundreds of other Namibian travelers were stranded at OR Tambo International Airport in Johannesburg yesterday, along with hundreds of other passengers.

The port authority allowed hundreds of passengers to return as a result of their failure to meet their COVID-19 requirements.

The South African government recently informed several airlines that it will no longer accept the CDC COVID-19 vaccination ‘white card’ as proof of vaccination.

Travelers in the country require a verified vaccination card with a QR code.

Initially, this requirement only affected road travelers because until recently, Namibians could fly to South Africa with paper booklets. But the new rule now affects air travelers as well.

The OR Tambo airport operations team issued a statement on Twitter yesterday, apologizing for the delay.

,[The] An operations team was deployed this morning to assist Port Health, run by the Department of Health, to assist with queue management.

He further said that they will continue to monitor and assist in these matters.

According to travellers’ accounts, as more flights landed, the queues got longer, in the absence of a verified QR code for the vaccination card that required them to undergo a COVID-19 test at a cost of N$250.

In April, the South African government indicated that vaccination cards would no longer be accepted at their land borders with Namibia, and that travelers from South Africa were also required to present a digital COVID-19 vaccination certificate upon entry.

This caused the Namibian Ministry of Health and Social Services to engage South African officials on possible interim measures to facilitate entry into South Africa for travelers from Namibia until the Namibian system is introduced.

“In the meantime, those who wish to travel to South Africa are advised to obtain negative PCR COVID-19 test results, as required by South Africa,” Executive Director Ben Nangombe said.

It has stressed upon the Ministry to conduct the issuance of COVID-19 Digital Immunization Certificates immediately.

Nangombe also said in a statement in April that the ministry, in collaboration with the African Union and the Africa Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (Africa CDC), with technical support from the Panabios consortium, has implemented the Trusted Travel System (TTS). Authenticate and verify the Kovid-19 test result certificate of the passengers.

The system has a module, Trusted Vaccines (TV), which is used to generate digital immunization certificates for fully vaccinated people.

“The TV module in TTS is adapted for Namibia. It is currently being refined to address the glitches identified during the troubleshooting process, before it is officially launched and operational,” Nangombe said.

Earlier this year, Health Minister Kalumbi Shangula said the online system allows the detection of fake test results and instills confidence in the Covid-19 results emanating from the participating jurisdictions.

“The platform further provides updated information on entry requirements and travel restrictions for the participating states. With greater interoperability between the systems, passengers can plan, initiate and start their journey without any hassle,” he said.

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