Institute for disease ready to receive South Africans returning from China

28 February 2020 - 14:32
By Naledi Shange
The NICD says chances are increasing that the new coronavirus will hit SA.
Image: REUTERS/Dado Ruvic/File Photo The NICD says chances are increasing that the new coronavirus will hit SA.

The National Institute for Communicable Diseases (NICD) on Friday said it was ready to receive South Africans being repatriated to the country from China. 

President Cyril Ramaphosa’s office on Thursday announced that South Africans -  some of whom had been in Wuhan City in China where the virus originated - would be brought back home as coronavirus infections and fatalities continued.

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

The NICD welcomed Ramaphosa's announcement.

“The detailed logistics are being finalised and the NICD is preparing to support the initiative in collaboration with all other involved government departments to ensure the containment of the virus,” the institute said in a statement.

“Based on currently available information, none of the affected individuals has been diagnosed with the virus, nor have they exhibited any symptoms of COVID-19. The NICD is working with international partners to learn from their experiences, to keep the public and the repatriated persons well and healthy.”

The institute said the chances of SA being hit by the deadly virus were increasing.

This comes as the virus continues to spread across the world.

“We note the continued spread of COVID-19 in other parts of the world and the decrease in the number of transmissions in China. The African region has recorded a new positive case of COVID-19 in Nigeria on February 27. Given these recent developments globally and in Africa, it is not unlikely that we will have importation of COVID-19 to South Africa,” the NICD said. 

“As such, we continue to monitor trends of COVID-19 globally and in the African region to improve our knowledge of the disease and to continually enhance our surveillance and response.”

SA was indirectly affected by the virus this week. The health ministry announced that two South Africans in Japan have been diagnosed with the virus.

They were among 12 South Africans working aboard the Princess Diamond cruise ship.

The two affected people are receiving treatment in Japan and will not be allowed to travel until they are no longer contagious.

“We confirm that these citizens are being treated in Japan and are in good care. The department of international relations & co-operation and the department of health are in constant contact with the individuals and the Japanese authorities,” the NICD said.