‘We are all in this together’
on them to organise their return as soon as possible. The German embassy has set up a dedicated hotline for German travellers: 012 428 9876. They can also send their enquiries to firstname.lastname@example.org. We are also asking all German tourists to stay updated by following the German embassy on Facebook and Twitter, as well as to visit our website www. southafrica.diplo.de, which is continuously updated with new information.
We are very happy that all German passengers that were aboard the AIDAmiracruise ship in Cape Town have now travelled home safely to Germany. We thank the ship’s crew, Lufthansa and the South African authorities for their great co-operation in organising their swift return. We are counting on this good co-operation to facilitate the return of the remaining German tourists in South Africa.
IM. What are your impressions of the steps announced by the South African government to try to contain the spread of the virus, including the lockdown from Friday?
MS. We commend President Ramaphosa for the steps his government has taken. We call on all Germans and South Africans to follow the new regulations. Everyone has a personal responsibility to do their bit to prevent the virus from spreading. That concerns hygienic measures. And it obviously also concerns the lockdown. We can only battle the spread of the virus if every single person does their bit.
IM. Chancellor Angela Merkel has been placed in self-quarantine. Do you think it brings home the seriousness of the situation when a world leader is directly affected?
MS. Chancellor Merkel took the responsible step into self-quarantine after her doctor tested positive for the virus. This shows what we all know: The virus can affect any one of us. We must all act responsibly.
IM. How has the German public reacted to the nationwide crackdown?
MS. The new measures are obviously putting a burden on everyone of us – whether in South Africa or in Germany. On families, on parents, on individuals, and most of all – on the many tireless people working in health sectors across the globe. It is our responsibility to take action now – each and every one of us.
I can only reiterate that the virus does not stop at international borders. As much as the people in my home country, people anywhere across the globe must now act responsibly.
IM. Germany is ahead of SA in the coronavirus infection curve: what lessons are there for South Africa in your experience?
MS. President Ramaphosa acted fast and resolutely in reaction to the spreading of the virus. We commend him for his swift action. If the virus has taught us anything in the last few weeks, it is that we cannot afford to wait and see. We must act now.
IM. What are the implications of this pandemic for Germany-South Africa relations, in particular tourism and trade between our countries, especially with regard to German companies operating in SA?
MS. Something quite unusual took place last Friday. Naledi Pandor, the
South African foreign minister, and Heiko Maas, her German counterpart, held a video conference to conclude the 10th binational commission (BNC) between our two countries. Normally, government representatives meet in person every two years in the framework of the BNC to agree the bilateral agenda for the coming months. We did it remotely this time, due to the coronavirus. And we agreed on many important new co-operation projects – in the fields of science, education, vocational training and foreign policy. That shows that diplomacy does not stop in times of crisis. To the contrary, we must work together, particularly now.
I am very happy to tell you that Germany has decided to provide a total of around R40 million to South Africa to help fight the spread of the coronavirus. The funds are intended for South African authorities to acquire test kits and hospital equipment to fight Covid-19.
IM. Do you have any other comments you wish to add?
MS. We are in this together. Let’s all act responsibly to fight the virus together.