Bring back all SA citizens from China

The writer states that all South Africans in China should be evacuated, not only the ones in Wuhan province.
The writer states that all South Africans in China should be evacuated, not only the ones in Wuhan province.
Image: REUTERS/Brendan McDermid/File Photo

All South Africans who want to be evacuated from China must be, especially those within the same province.

Late last week, government announced that it would repatriate all its citizens from the coronavirus epicentre of Wuhan, the capital of Hubei province in China.

Although late, South Africa should be commended for finally deciding to fetch its citizens from China even though some countries did this as back as in January. It is better late than never.

By yesterday, there were 86,000 confirmed cases of corona infection across 61 countries and close to 3,000 deaths.

There are about 201 South Africans living in Wuhan and 151 have indicated they want to come home while 16 said they did not want to leave. The removal is expected to take place within seven to 10 days.

Upon arrival back in the country, the group will be quarantined for 21 days. Family and friends will not be allowed near the centre that will be guarded by soldiers.

However, other South Africans citizens, also based Hubei, have expressed concerns at being excluded in the evacuations. One of them, Linda Makhuba, is a teacher who is stuck in Xiangyang in Hubei, who said they were under the same movement restrictions as people in Wuhan.

He said even though their city is over 300km away from the epicentre, they have been stuck in their houses with limited supply of food, and hospitals in their area were overcrowded, making it difficult to access healthcare.

Makhuba said he did not understand why they were left out of the plan for evacuations.

First, South Africa's decision to evacuate comes after over a month since other countries began fetching their citizens - others have even gone back to get more of their people.

Now, we are doing repatriations, but only in Wuhan. Why not include everyone who expresses the desire to come home from that entire province?

Most of them are stuck in their homes because of the restrictions and not working. Shops are closed, leading to a limited supply of food.

Are they not better off at home? We call on the government to consider all citizens working in China who want to be rescued for evacuations.