He also thanked the parents who were ready to fetch their children and understood and co-operated with government when they were told that their children would be quarantined.
“As those most affected, you, the students, were not informed that you would be placed in quarantine upon arrival. By the time the decision was taken you were already en route,” he said.
Nzimande encouraged the students to maintain the discipline of social distancing, encourage people to wash their hands and to report to their health facilities any signs of this disease when they are in their home environments.
“You are the best evangelists of a lockdown, because you, above anyone else, have seen that a lockdown does work. I urge you to spread the message to South Africans, what a lockdown can do, because Wuhan was able to reduce the level of infections because they had a lockdown,” Nzimande said.
He said under normal circumstances he would have received a report on the experiences the students gained in China but said he would still like to receive a report from them on how their work experience has benefited them as individuals and their colleges.
Four students will remain under quarantine until Tuesday, as they had arrived later.
Nzimande also thanked police and the Gauteng health department for making their services available to conduct the tests during the quarantine period. The minister also said two students were admitted to hospital for non-Covid-19 related illness.
Breakdown of students per province:
Eastern Cape — 1
Western Cape — 1
Free State — 13
Mpumalanga — 7
Gauteng — 33 + 1 private student
North West — 9
KwaZulu-Natal — 6