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Warm meals, tight hugs and wagging tails for Wuhan teacher returning home

Amy Pittaway, her mother, and her dogs Bear and Daisy. Amy was reunited with her family and pets in Cape Town on Tuesday.
Amy Pittaway, her mother, and her dogs Bear and Daisy. Amy was reunited with her family and pets in Cape Town on Tuesday.
Image: Amy Pittaway

Welcome home signs, tight hugs, warm home-cooked meals and the wagging tails of dogs after 11 months. This is the experience of Amy Pittaway, who spent the past 14 days in quarantine at The Ranch Resort in Limpopo.

Pittaway was one of the 112 South Africans who were quarantined at the facility after their repatriation from Wuhan, China's coronavirus epicentre.

During the time at the resort, Pittaway, 24, said they were divided into groups and played board games and spent time on the trampoline as part of their entertainment.

“My 14-day stay at The Ranch was amazing and relaxing. It felt like I was on holiday. There was also DStv in our rooms  so if we didn’t feel like being with anyone we could watch movies in our rooms,” she said.

On Sunday, President Cyril Ramaphosa gave the go-ahead for the 112 South Africans to go home.

Pittaway took a 20-hour bus ride from Limpopo to Cape Town on Monday.

On her arrival on Tuesday morning, she was met with a “welcome home” board and a grateful mother, Meg, who was relieved to have her daughter back home.

“My mom was there to pick me up with a welcome home sign which was absolutely great. My family made me shower before I could give each one of them a hug, which was what  I was expecting,” Pittaway jokingly said.

Pittaway, an English teacher, said the best part of her return home was being greeted by the family's two dogs, Bear and Daisy.  

“The best part was when I had my dogs come to greet me after 11 months. They had their tails wagging and it was a really great moment.”

The family is planning a special supper for Pittaway this evening.

Her mother will be preparing her favourite — steak with mushroom sauce, vegetables and chips.

Pittaway said it was overwhelming to see how the country responded to the coronavirus.

Many supermarkets are expected to be fuller than the usual lockdown shopping on Tuesday after most people received their month-end salaries, and with payments of social grants having started on Monday.

“I saw a lot of people out on the streets. I didn’t see masks and physical distancing, and it is sad,” Pittaway said.

She said she was extremely grateful to be back in the country after the repatriation mission.

“I am grateful that we are South Africans and we can pull together and pull off something that is so amazing. It is truly amazing what we have achieved.”

She urged all South Africans to obey the strict guidelines set out by President Ramaphosa for the lockdown period.

“We need to have the mentality that everybody is Covid-19 positive. Even when you know people are negative, believe that everyone is positive and act accordingly. Don’t think you are above the rules and use this as an excuse to party and get drunk. Bear the brunt of it. If we can get it done, then let’s get it done.”

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