Repatriated twins advocate for social distancing

The Nkcosolwane-Vili twins, Mvuyisi and Mvuzo, were repatriated from China after the breakout of the Coronavirus.
The Nkcosolwane-Vili twins, Mvuyisi and Mvuzo, were repatriated from China after the breakout of the Coronavirus.
Image: Supplied.

It is of great importance for people to adhere to the rules set by government, say twin brothers who were at the heart of the Chinese coronavirus outbreak.

Medical students at China’s Hubei Polytechnic University, Mvuzo and Mvuyisi Nkcosolwana-Vili (28) saw with their own eyes how practising social distancing and adhering to the regulations put in place by government can stop the spread of the pandemic. 

The two spent over 80 days in isolation. The Nkcosolwana-Vilis, who were part of the 114 students repatriated by the South African government from Wuhan, were living in the city of Huangshi in the Hubei province when the virus first broke out and the province went into a 54-day lockdown.

Mvuyisi says that following the authority’s advice will help curb the virus. “Social distancing helps curb the spread of the coronavirus. If people continue to engage in social behaviour, then the virus will continue to spread.

“The restrictions on things such as alcohol are there because when people are drunk, they don’t practise safe hygiene,” he says.

The Chinese government stopped all services, with the exception of health services and a reduced police service. Mvuyisi believes that China’s success in curbing the virus at its epicentre was the result of residents adhering to the laws and tough enforcement measures.

Mvuzo, who is the student representative council president, agrees and says to succeed in curbing the virus, the state must enforce the laws related to the pandemic and act against those who disobey them.

Whilst under the Chinese lockdown regulations, the Nkcosolwana-Vilis say they were not free to leave their rooms. The Chinese government only allowed them to step outside for air at certain times. Even then, they were not allowed outside the yard of their residence.

The students were repatriated after the South African government struck a deal with their Chinese counterparts to allow those who had no symptoms to leave. On the flight back, social distancing measures were put in place and anyone who exhibited symptoms during the flight were placed in a designated isolation area.

Upon returning to South Africa, the students were isolated for 14 days at the Ranch Resort in Polokwane, Limpopo, where they were screened for symptoms on a daily basis. 

Future repatriations

South Africans in other countries that are looking to return home will not be repatriated by the government in the same way as the Wuhan students were. 

Lunga Ngqengelele, spokesman for the Department of International Relations and Cooperation, says they help those who were in possession of a return ticket when the lockdown was declared.

Ngqengelele says they negotiate with the host country to let South Africans travel to an airport where a flight will be departing for South Africa, as was recently done in Germany.

-This article was originally published in the GCIS Vuk'uzenzele.