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UPDATE 2-South Africa to allow travel from all of Africa from Oct. 1

* Travel to and from within continent allowed

* Travel restricted from high infection countries

* Govt yet to say which countries on restricted list

* Business travel to be allowed under certain conditions (Adds details from govt gazette)

JOHANNESBURG, Sept 18 (Reuters) - South Africa will allow travel from Oct. 1 to and from all countries in Africa as well as other countries where levels of COVID-19 infections are not too high, a government minister said on Friday.

For countries outside Africa, the government will determine whether entry is allowed depending on that country’s COVID-19 infection and transmission rate, cooperative governance minister Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma said.

The government will prepare a list of countries from where travel will be restricted, Dlamini-Zuma said, but did not specify when the list will be published.

“International travel in the continent is allowed to all countries and from all countries,” she said. Travellers should have a negative COVID-19 test obtained not more than 72 hours before the date of travel or would have to quarantine.

South African President Cyril Ramaphosa had said on Wednesday the country would open its international borders selectively, as the infection rate has progressively slowed to below 2,000 new cases per day.

At its peak, Africa’s most industrialised nation, currently among the world’s top ten in terms of total cumulative cases, was recording an average of over 13,000 cases a day in July.

Business travel from high infection countries could be allowed with the approval of the home affairs minister, according to regulations published in the government gazette on Friday.

Only airports in Johannesburg, Cape Town and Durban will be allowed to operate for international flights, the regulations said.

Dlamini-Zuma said the 18 land borders that were partially operational will now be fully opened but that the 35 borders crossings currently closed will remain closed.

“Visa applications in our embassies are now allowed,” she said.

South Africa imposed one of the world’s strictest lockdowns in March to curb a surge in coronavirus infections. The country’s outbreak has claimed over 15,000 lives in the last six months.

The lockdown, which has now been eased, took a huge toll on the economy, especially the mining and tourism sectors, shrinking its size in the second quarter to what it was in 2007 and exacerbating already high levels of unemployment. (Reporting by Promit Mukherjee; Editing by Kirsten Donovan and Philippa Fletcher)

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