South Africans to be flown home from China as coronavirus death toll rises

Government has decided to repatriate South Africans living in Wuhan, China, amid coronavirus fears.
Government has decided to repatriate South Africans living in Wuhan, China, amid coronavirus fears.
Image: STR/AFP

South Africans will be evacuated from Wuhan city, China, as fears over the coronavirus — named COVID-19 — continue to grow.

So far, 132 South Africans have requested to be brought home — and will be quarantined for three weeks when  they arrive back in the country.

The first case of COVID-19 was reported in Wuhan in November last year. So far, nearly 2,800 have died from the outbreak.

In a statement on Thursday night, the presidency said President Cyril Ramaphosa had directed the repatriation of SA citizens from the Hubei province city.

It was decided, the statement said, to repatriate the SA nationals “after due consideration of the circumstances, and following several requests from the families of South Africans in the city”.

“It is estimated that there are 199 South Africans citizens in Wuhan, as per the latest consolidated list from the department of international relations & cooperation. At this stage, 132 of them have expressed the desire to be repatriated. These compatriots are currently living under lockdown conditions following the outbreak of the coronavirus,” the statement said.

However, none of those have been diagnosed with the virus “nor have they exhibited any symptoms thereof”.

“Upon arrival in SA, they will be placed in quarantine for 21 days as an additional precautionary measure,” the presidency said.

Various government departments — including health, defence, international relations and co-operation, home affairs and social development — have been tasked with assisting those who do return home.


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