VACorps Program COVID-19 New & Updates

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(Last Updated: March 1st, 2021)

VACorps reopened our program to in-country internship participation on the 13th of January. You can view our latest program activities on the VACorps Instagram page.  Inbound travel to South Africa is subject to a number of restrictions, namely:

  • A negative COVID-19 PCR test not older than 72 hours from the time of departure from the country of origin. The negative test results must be confirmed by a doctor.
  • Mandatory travel insurance.
  • Symptom screening upon arrival.

NOTE: There is no quarantine requirement if you travel with a negative PCR test.

Current COVID 19 infection rates in South Africa

As of the 1st of March, 2021, South Africa has 1,513,393 confirmed cases and 49,993 deaths. South Africa’s “first wave” COVID-19 infection rate peaked in late July at a rate of 14,000 new cases per day. South Africa is nearing the end of its “second wave”, with a 7-day moving average of 1,371 new cases per day (South Africa has a population of 60 million people). To see our current curve and infection rates, click here. South Africa’s second wave “peak” occurred on January 11th, when the 7-day moving average hit 19,042. At the time of this most recent update, the daily national infection rate has declined by 93% since the January 11th peak.

There are 6,168 active COVID cases in the Western Cape Province (pop. 7 million) where Cape Town is located.

Current domestic restrictions in South Africa (Updated on March 1st)

  • South Africa is currently on level 1 of lockdown restrictions.
  • There is a national curfew in place from 12 PM – 4 AM.
  • On-site alcohol consumption during the week from 10 AM – 12 PM.
  • Gyms, restaurants, and movie theatres are open subject to social distancing rules and regulations.
  • Indoor gatherings are limited to 100 people, and outdoor gatherings are limited to 250 people.
  • Wearing a mask in public is compulsory in public spaces. It is a criminal offense not to be wearing a mask in public.
  • All businesses and office spaces are allowed to operate subject to social distancing rules.

NOTE: The South African government announced that it would not implement any further “hard lockdowns”, so future participants will not be subject to “shelter-in-place” style lockdowns that have been implemented in various countries in Europe.

Information about the COVID-19 variant in South Africa

In early December, South African scientists discovered a new variant of COVID-19, 501.V2.  Researchers are continuing to study the new strain, which is 50% more infectious than the original COVID virus but there is no evidence to suggest that the new variant poses any greater health risk than previous strains of the virus. Similar mutations have been found in the U.K., Brazil, Nigeria, and the USA. South African scientists have concluded that the AstraZeneca vaccine is not effective against mild and moderate forms of the 501.V2 variant but will still protect against serious forms of the virus. Research is still ongoing but the WHO Strategic Advisory Group of Experts (SAGE) continues to recommend the use of the AstraZeneca vaccine because there is “no reason not to recommend its use.”

Living in South Africa in the COVID-19 world

Like most countries in the world, South Africa has been hard-hit by the COVID -19 pandemic. Our government has been applauded by the WHO for its management of the pandemic, but, aside from the direct effects of getting sick, many people and businesses have experienced great economic hardship as a result of our first hard lockdown, which was one of the strictest and longest in the world.

Although our economy and borders are completely open, post-COVID life in South Africa is very different from what it was before. Citizens are still very cautious and concerned about contracting and spreading the virus. As a result of the strong and coordinated measures taken by our government from the very beginning of the pandemic, the general population is very good at following COVID-related laws and restrictions, which is most likely why our infection and death rates have remained substantially lower than experts had forecast back in March of 2020.

As a visitor to Cape Town, your movements will be mostly unrestricted but you will be expected to wear your mask at all times while out in public, avoid indoor gatherings, and take all necessary precautions should you show any symptoms, or are knowingly exposed to the virus.

Luckily, South Africa has a mild climate and astonishing natural beauty, which means we have even more of an excuse to spend time outdoors! When not working at your internship, some very popular outdoor activities include hiking in the national park, trail running, surfing, SCUBA diving, going to the beach, and wine tasting at South Africa’s many wine estates.

VACorps COVID-19 Safety Protocols

VACorps has designed and implemented a number of COVID 19 health and safety protocols designed to keep our program participants, staff, placement sites, and the general public safe. For details please see our website, or click here.

 

Resources:

US Embassy in South Africa

South Africa’s New Risk-Adjusted Strategy

COVID-19 Press Releases and Statements in South Africa

Contact VACorps