Army plane to fly to China to repatriate South Africans on Tuesday
An aircraft meant to repatriate South Africans from China amid the Coronavirus outbreak was ready to leave on Tuesday night, said the government.
About 122 citizens who are currently residing in Wuhan, the epicenter of the COVID-19 outbreak, are expected to return home by the end of the week.
Government spokesperson Phumla Williams said that the government originally received over 180 requests for repatriation. But over time, and having made consideration of personal circumstances, some South Africans indicated their decision to rather stay on at their respective commitments in Wuhan.
“The flight will leave from OR Tambo International Airport on Tuesday March 10 at 9pm. On board the flight will be the flight crew from the aircraft company and a total of 15 officials from the department of health and the department of defence (military health),” said Williams.
We reiterate that no South Africans coming home ... are showing any symptoms of the Covid-19 virus.Phumla Williams
The flight will stop over in the Philippines on March 11 for refuelling, to rest and to restock essential foodstuffs needed for the return journey.
After the stopover, the aircraft will fly to Wuhan City.
“Upon arrival, the team will work with our Chinese counterparts but also the staff of our embassy in China, screening our repatriates and checking required travel documents.
“The flight will leave Wuhan City in the early hours of the morning and land back in South Africa on March 13. In due course, announcements will be made about the arrival of the South Africans home,” she said.
Williams emphasised that the repatriated citizen will be quarantined for an initial period of 21 days, which will be extended if any person displays symptoms of Covid-19.
“We reiterate that no South Africans coming home ... are showing any symptoms of the Covid-19 virus. At the appropriate time, the quarantine site will be announced and the details of the site management plan will be shared with members of the public and the media,” she said.
After the mandated quarantine period, those who are cleared will be reunited with their families and reintegrated into their communities.