Mazvita Samuriwo, Recently in South Africa
The Covid-19 pandemic, which started in 2019 does not appear to be going anywhere with worldwide travel restrictions, lockdowns, and vaccine strategies strengthening. However, if you do decide to travel outside Zimbabwe, regardless of the pandemic then here are a few tips you may find useful.
1. Check your ticket or ask your chosen airline for the latest Covid-19 travel and testing requirements for your chosen destination, including requirements for connecting flights to ensure you arrive at the airport with appropriate travel documents.
2. Ensure you have an authentic and valid Covid-19 test certificate. Robert Gabriel Mugabe International Airport and Johannesburg’s O.R. Tambo International Airport require Covid-19 test results to be valid no more than 48 hours before boarding /disembarking the flight. A pro tip would be to ensure your results are obtained 24 hours before the flight to give you more leeway with officials and avoid paying 60 USD for an additional PCR test with a 3 hour waiting time.
3. Do not get a fake Covid -19 test no matter how pressed for time you are. This move comes with various implications including not being able to board your flight or worse – being arrested for failure to comply. Lancet Laboratories provide barcoded Covid-19 results which make it easier and quicker to verify.
4. Seriously consider getting vaccinated and becoming fully inoculated. Countries like Zimbabwe and South Africa are not asking for vaccine certificates yet but others like the United Kingdom are considering plans to limit quarantine requirements for travellers who are fully inoculated. At present, only a few countries appear on the UK’s green list for travel where travellers are not required to quarantine upon arrival/return into the United Kingdom.
5. Travellers coming from countries with Alpha and Delta Covid-19 variants will be quarantined and tested at their own expense on the 1st, 5th and 10th day of arrival into Zimbabwe. The Alpha strain was first identified in the UK whereas the Delta strain originated from India.
6. Ensure that any liquids you want to carry on board are less than 100ml each or they will be discarded by security officials, despite how valuable and how much you plead. Use your check-in luggage allowance for bigger products and ensure your bag is locked and shrink-wrapped for added protection if you can.
7. Duty-free in Zimbabwe is expensive if you are using USD. The price of a drink in the airport is four times more expensive and souvenirs like a Zimbabwean mug can get up to 10 times more expensive than the value sold outside the airport. Conversely, the duty-free shops in the airport use our ZWL bank rate of 85 percent for travellers who opt to use our local currency. Shops outside the airport use a rate anywhere between 85 and 130 percent. Assess your finances accordingly.
8. Onboard, sanitize your surroundings and ensure you do not remove your mask in flight and when disembarking. Fastjet, a local airline that flies to countries like South Africa, has removed onboard snacks and meals and replaced them with a travel kit containing a mask, sanitizer, juice box, and wet wipe. Use them.
9. If you have money to spare when you arrive at your destination, opt for hiring out a car to minimize your use of public transport and exposure to Covid-19. Hospital bills and the discomfort of the virus outweigh your expenditure in this regard.
10. Be safe and avoid crowded places and gatherings. Maintain your distance and take vitamins like Zinc and Vitamin C to boost your immune system. Always wear appropriate clothing for the weather. There is nothing worse than getting the flu during Covid-19, the paranoia is not worth it as Covid-19 has many flu symptoms. Scientists postulate that Flu viruses survive and are transmitted more easily in cold, dry air. So it’s reasonable to think that the same may be true for the Covid-19 coronavirus, SARS-CoV-2, which has a similar size and structure.