JOHANNESBURG — Two Americans arriving from Amsterdam were arrested on suspicion of having escaped a hotel quarantine before entering South Africa, the country’s health ministry said.
The ministry said the two were detained Friday after departing the Ben Gurion International Airport on Ethiopian Airlines.
Health authorities there suspect that the pair may have sneaked into the country undetected without certificates to enter because it is against South African law for any passenger without an international medical certificate to travel into the country, according to a ministry spokeswoman, Kristen Michal Brown.
Before arriving in Johannesburg, the pair first visited Botswana, she said.
It was not immediately clear why the pair were on their way to South Africa.
“It is still being investigated at the moment,” said a spokeswoman for the Ministry of Health in South Africa. She was not authorized to speak publicly about the case.
If the pair prove to have escaped quarantine, they could be held in detention until their health is restored, she said.
There are no known outbreaks of ebola in South Africa, and the country is not the target of U.S. government travel advisories for the virus, health officials said.
During the worst ebola outbreak in West Africa in 2014, South Africa handled 40 cases, more than any other country in the world. More than 8,000 people in 14 countries contracted the virus during the deadly epidemic, which killed 11,000 people.
South Africa’s health ministry said all passengers arriving at the airport must sign a “roadmap” document that certifies they have traveled to an area in an emergency state or where quarantine exists.
South Africa has issued an emergency travel order for the Democratic Republic of Congo after an Ebola outbreak in the remote northeastern region.
South Africa has the largest economy in Africa. It is among the continent’s top oil producers and was ranked first in the World Bank’s 2017 ranking of ease of doing business.
Since white minority rule ended in 1994, South Africa has won international plaudits for its levels of voting rights and women’s equality, but it has faced criticism for its government’s handling of racial inequality. The International Monetary Fund listed South Africa as the most dangerous country to invest in globally in 2018.