Expats in Africa urged to repatriate if at all possible

Expats in Africa urged to repatriate if at all possible

Expats in Africa urged to repatriate if at all possible

Advice for expats in South Africa is now straightforward – leave if and when you can.

South Africa is a popular destination for Western expats, but the rapid worldwide spread of the coronavirus pandemic has wrecked the plans of many established expat incomers as well as those planning to relocate to the country.

A state of emergency was declared on March 15, along with a ban on all arrivals from states with increasing levels of infection. Immediately, international consulates in Johannesburg advised their nationals without the right to residence to leave as soon as possible. Within a short time, many other countries across the massive continent ordered lockdowns, with Senegal and Ghana prohibiting entry of visitors from hard-hit countries worldwide and airports on the islands of Mauritius and Madagascar closed to air traffic.

For expats planning to travel to the continent’s business hubs, Africa was now effectively closed to those from the USA and continental Europe, although some African nations are now requiring self-quarantine on arrival rather than placing outright bans. South Africans’ reactions mirrored those in Europe and the USA, with social distancing an unpopular and often ignored requirement. For expats, the uncertainty of whether to go or stay was exacerbated by a huge increase in the cost of flights still able to be booked.

Expat teachers from European countries had difficulty finding flights, with some simply going into personal lockdown rather than dealing with the uncertainty, whilst others decided to stay no matter what. At present, the huge continent has reported relatively few coronavirus infections, with less than 1,000 confirmed cases out of over a billion people in total. Unlike in the West, African governments overall have brought in fast, decisive actions to prevent the rapid spread of the infection.

Much of the region’s air traffic is now grounded, with major airlines including Lufthansa, Alitalia and Air France mothballing their fleets after suspending all flights. Many states have now banned arrivals from badly-affected countries, with governments holding their breath whilst knowing full well their medical services won’t be able to cope with a major outbreak.

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