MASERU – Basotho who cannot afford the usurious fee for a Covid-19 test to cross into South Africa will have to wait a little longer as the faster and cheaper Antigen Testing at the border has not started yet. The South African High Commission in Maseru confirmed today it was in the dark when testing which had been scheduled to start last Friday would commence.
“At this stage the High Commission cannot provide you with an exact time frame as to when the testing will become available at the Port of Entry. The High Commission will be notified by the Port Authorities when the Antigen Testing becomes available at the Ports of Entry and you will be duly informed,” Rudolph Stroebel, the First Secretary said.
His statement follows reports last week South Africa would roll out cheaper testing after Basotho and South Africans complained about the M850, rising to M1 500 they pay to acquire the Covid-19 certificate. Laboratories levy M850 per test with administering doctors exacting between M300 and M500. Since the partial re-opening of the borders on 1 October, South Africa insists on production of a Covid-19 free certificate from travellers before allowing them through.
Government hospitals and testing centres in both countries are only testing suspected patients. Announcing the border re-opening, President Cyril Ramaphosa early this month said only land border posts that had remained operational during the lockdown and the three main airports: King Shaka, OR Tambo and Cape Town International Airport would process travellers. Travellers arriving in South Africa would need to present a negative COVID-19 test result not older than 72 hours from time of departure, he said.
“Where a traveller has not done a COVID-19 test prior to departure, they will be required to remain in mandatory quarantine at their own cost. “All travellers will be screened on arrival and those presenting with symptoms will be required to remain in quarantine until a repeat COVID-19 test is conducted.”
Lesotho Prime Minister Moeketsi Majoro mimicked Ramaphosa, dashing the hopes of thousands of Basotho migrant workers who have not been home since March 26 and had hoped South Africa’s move to Lockdown Level 1 would allow then to re-unite with their families.