I tested positive for Covid-19 while on holiday in Cape Town…now what?

Testing positive for Covid-19 while on holiday can add another layer of anxiety to your trip.

If you are visiting Cape Town, we’ve compiled a step-by-step guide on what you need to know, what you need to do and where you need to go to make your overall stay here in the Mother City as stress-free as possible.

From different Covid-19 tests, free government testing sites, and current Covid-19 isolation protocols to a list of healthcare facilities to help you, we’ve got you covered.

PCR vs Rapid Anti-Gen: A Quick Guide to Covid-19 Testing 

There are two different types of Covid tests, namely diagnostic tests and antibody tests.

Most people will either take a diagnostic PCR (Polymerase Chain Reaction) test or an Antigen (also referred to as rapid or viral) test.

Though the PCR test is considered to be the most accurate, an antigen test is also frequently used depending on a country’s entry and exit requirements.

Each test helps to detect Covid-19 but in different ways. See the table below on when to use a PCR and when to take a rapid antigen (at-home) test.

Table: Courtesy of UHS Berkely

Where to get tested 

There are several pharmacies offering testing throughout Cape Town. Please visit for pharmacy contact details.

Below is a list of government facilities offering tests to the public:

For more information on testing facilities, you can call the NICD helpline on 0800 029 999.

What to do if you test positive for Covid -19

If you test positive for COVID-19 while in Cape Town, you are required to self-isolate in private accommodation at your own cost. The table below summarises the new rules for isolation of Covid-19 in South Africa. These protocols apply to both vaccinated and unvaccinated individuals.

Table: Courtesy of

For more information regarding Covid-19 regulations in South Africa, visit

It is also recommended that you contact your health insurer for advice.

Where to stay if you need to isolate

If you have booked a hotel or Airbnb for your trip, then call ahead of time to find out what their policy is regarding isolation, and whether they will be able to accommodate you if you need to extend your stay. Some accommodations will require you to isolate alone in a separate room, even if your family members or travel companions test negative.

Where to go if you require medical care

In certain cases, you may need additional medical care. Below is a list of government health care facilities in the Western Cape:

District/Provincially Aided HospitalsTertiary Hospitals

For the complete list of government healthcare facilities please click on the link below:

Below is a list of private hospitals in Cape Town:

Life Healthcare
Netcare Hospitals
Melomed Private Hospitals

Travel Insurance

Although travel insurance is not required for trips to South Africa, buying a plan that covers Covid-19 risks is highly recommended, because it protects you and/or your dependents financially when you are away from home.

Travel insurance covers medical costs, repatriation (helping you to get back to your country) should you or a family member fall ill, not being able to board a flight due to Covid, and other challenges that might come up during your trip.

When to purchase travel insurance

In general, you can buy coverage any time before the date of your trip. However, it’s always best to take out travel insurance when making your reservations. The sooner you buy travel cover, the sooner you’ll be protected and the more benefits you might be able to receive.

Accessing your cover while on holiday

If you need to access your cover while on holiday, you should contact your travel insurance provider as soon as possible to inform them of your situation. They will assist you with what to do next, what documents you need, and what treatment you require (if any).

Tips to make the process easier

  • Keep your documents where you can easily find them. Your insurance company may need proof of your positive Covid test result, proof of payment and receipts for any expenses you may have incurred.
  • Make a note of who you speak to at the insurance company and write down their names and reference numbers you receive.

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