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SANDF buses with SA repatriates leave for Ranch Hotel
14 March 2020, 12:33 PM

Four  buses carrying the group of 114 repatriates from Wuhan, in China, have left the Gateway International Airport in Polokwane.

The military plane transporting South African citizens from China landed in Polokwane on Saturday morning.

The R101 road between Polokwane and Mokopane in Limpopo has been closed for security reasons. The stretch of the road includes the Ranch Hotel and Resort which is the quarantine location for the group.

Chriselda Lewis reports…

In a tweet message on Saturday, Health Minister Dr Zweli Mkhize has welcomed the group back home, saying “Our children are home.”

Mkhize says the hotel has all relevant facilities and situated away from densely populated areas.

The Ranch Hotel is located between the towns of Mokopane and Polokwane.

It is surrounded by lush green trees and dense bush. There are wild animals that include the antelope family group, grass eaters like zebra and giraffe, as well as lions. There are two entry points along the N1 and the R101 roads.

Polokwane residents have different views.

“I feel it is very very bad on my side because this sickness it was had from China then why do they have to come in South Africa, it means they care enough about our citizens that are that side and I think by doing so they are protecting us.”

More reactions: 

Wuhan-SA repatriation mission

Earlier the Health Department said they had received late cancellations and confirmations of South Africans returning from the city of Wuhan in China.

But the South African Airways (SAA) chattered aircraft had landed with over 100 people on board.

The Wuhan group and the South African National Defence Force (SANDF) officials are now being transported in buses to The Ranch Hotel.

The South Africans who had been in Wuhan voiced their intention to return to South Africa following the coronavirus outbreak in China.

Health Department Spokesperson, Popo Maja, has called for the privacy of the group to be respected.

“The number is 114 South African nationals, 14 crew members and 18 medical staff. The total, I still have to work out, but three embassy members as well. We did have late cancellations and some late confirmation. They will be screened on arrival and there will be no contact with the airport staff. From the flight they will go straight into the busses and on-site there is medical staff and they will be checked and taken to their rooms,” says Maja.

South Africans arrive from China: 14 March 2020



Security is tight at the two entrances of the Ranch hotel to prevent any movement ahead of the arrival of the 122 South African citizens repatriated from China.

They will be quarantined for 21 days at the hotel which is about 25 kilometers outside Polokwane. The entrances of the Ranch have been manned by soldiers and police officers.

World closes borders, restricts travel to contain coronavirus spread
14 March 2020, 12:08 PM

Countries around the world on Saturday continued to close borders, impose strict entry and quarantine requirements and restrict large gatherings in efforts to contain the spread of the new coronavirus.

Apple Inc said it will close all its retail stores outside Greater China until March 27. Apple reopened all 42 of its branded stores in China on Friday as the spread of the virus on mainland China slowed dramatically.

Countries have shuttered museums, tourist attractions and sporting events to minimise the risk of transmission.

In a bid to limit the economic damage from a pandemic that has infected more than 138 000 people worldwide and left more than 5 000 dead, the US House of Representatives passed an aid package that would provide free testing and paid sick leave.

Colombia said it will close its borders with Venezuela and stop visitors who have been in Europe or Asia, while a US ban on entry for most people from continental Europe was due to start midnight Friday.

The World Health Organisation (WHO) says Europe has become the pandemic’s current epicentre after reporting more cases and deaths than the rest of world combined, apart from China where the coronavirus originated last December.

Saudi Arabia will suspend all international flights for two weeks, starting Sunday, state news agency SPA said, Taiwan will require travellers from mainland Europe, Britain and Ireland to self-isolate for 14 days, while New Zealand implemented a similar measure for all those entering the country.

New Zealand has announced that no cruise liners would be allowed to dock in the country’s ports until 30 June 2020.

This after Prime Minister, Jacinda Ardern, announced the world’s tightest border controls to combat the spread of coronavirus – requiring all incoming travellers, including its own citizens, to self-isolate for two weeks.

“Alongside Israel, and a small number of Pacific Islands who have effectively closed their border, this decision will mean New Zealand will have the widest ranging and toughest border restrictions of any country in the world,” she said.

The country has six confirmed cases and no deaths – but Ardern says officials believe the number will rise.

“That is why ultimately, we must go hard and we must go early,” she told reporters.

The U.S. military also said it will halt most domestic travel, extending earlier restrictions on international travel for its more than a million active-duty troops around the world.


While infections continue to climb around the world, in mainland China the number of new cases is falling.

The number of new coronavirus cases imported into mainland China from overseas surpassed the number of locally transmitted new infections for the first time on Friday, data released by the National Health Commission showed on Saturday.

Mainland China had 11 new confirmed cases on Friday, up from eight cases a day earlier, but only four of those – all in the virus epicentre of Hubei province – were locally transmitted.

Hubei has now seen new infections fall for nine straight days. All four of the new cases on Friday, down from five a day earlier, were in provincial capital Wuhan.

The flu-like virus has infected 80,824 people in mainland China, the commission said.


Travel bans have hammered airlines and travel companies worldwide, while financial markets have been hit by panic selling this week.

The impact of the coronavirus on everyday life is also deepening.

The Czech government will shut most shops and restaurants from early Saturday, with exceptions including food stores, pharmacies and gas stations.

The Philippines capital Manila, home to 12 million people, announced nighttime curfews on Saturday and urged shopping malls to close for one month.

“To limit the spread of the virus, we need to limit the movement of people. We are slowing down the movement of people in Metro Manila,” said Jose Arturo Garcia, general manager of the Metropolitan Manila Development Authority.

Chile announced a ban on public events with more than 500 people, joining countries such as Australia where the ban will come into force on Monday.

In Paris, the Eiffel Tower, the Louvre museum and the Moulin Rouge cabaret closed their doors. The Smithsonian museums in Washington were preparing to do so on Saturday and Broadway theatres in New York went dark.

The kissing of the Blarney Stone, one of Ireland’s oldest tourist traditions, was suspended.

The global sporting calendar has also been left in tatters with major tournaments cancelled, postponed or forced to continue without spectators.

But sport’s biggest showpiece, the Olympics, will still proceed as planned, according to Tokyo organisers.

Apple to close retail stores worldwide, except Greater China
14 March 2020, 10:39 AM

Apple Inc said late on Friday it will close all its retail stores, except those in Greater China, for the next two weeks to minimize the risk of coronavirus transmission.

“We will be closing all of our retail stores outside of Greater China until March 27,” Apple CEO Tim Cook wrote in a letter  posted on the company’s website.

“In all of our offices, we are moving to flexible work arrangements worldwide outside of Greater China,” he added.

“That means team members should work remotely if their job allows.”
Apple reopened all 42 of its branded stores in China on Friday.

More than 138,000 people have been infected worldwide and over 5,000 have died, according to a Reuters tally of government announcements.


Apple Inc on Friday called off the in-person portion of its annual developers conference scheduled to be held in San Jose and said it would run the program entirely online in June because of coronavirus fears.

South Africans returning from Wuhan to land at Limpopo Gateway airport
14 March 2020, 9:02 AM

The media have gathered at the entrance of the Gateway International Airport at Polokwane in Limpopo. This is ahead of the landing of the SAA chattered aircraft carrying a group of  South African citizens repatriated from Wuhan, in China, the origin of the Coronavirus pandemic.

The plane is expected to land at the Gateway Airport on Saturday morning.

The group including volunteers and SANDF officials will be transported via road to the Ranch Hotel.

The hotel will be placed under strict lockdown and closed to the general public during a mandatory quarantine period of 21-days.

SABC’s Chriselda Lewis reporting from the Ranch Resort in Polokwane:

The military and SAA staff flew from South Africa to Wuhan to repatriate the South Africans.

They were screened before the flight and will enter a three-week quarantine period in Limpopo after arriving back on South African soil.

Tight security

Security is tight at the two entrances of the Ranch hotel to prevent any movement ahead of the arrival of the 122 South African citizens repatriated from China. They will be quarantined for 21 days at the hotel which is about 25 kilometers outside Polokwane.

The entrances of the Ranch have been manned by soldiers and police officers.

The aircraft, which left China at 3 am China time, is expected to land at one of the runway strips at the airport.

Inside the craft, the group has been separated from one another, keeping social distancing and are wearing protective gear.

An additional step also included decontamination spraying. The group has tested negative for COVID-19.

‘Social media comments’ 

South Africa has a total of 24 confirmed coronavirus cases. Deputy Minister of Justice John Jeffrey has condemned social media comments that discriminate against South Africans who are being repatriated from China.

“ I think some of the comments on social media especially with people asking for names and addresses of those affected in response to the people from Wuhan who have been repatriated has not been both in Limpopo and the Free State where they were originally meant to go is not something to be proud of,” says Jeffrey.

He says the prejudice faced by those infected with coronavirus is similar to the prejudice that was faced by people living with HIV/AIDS in the past.




Huawei drops Google on new devices – How will that affect SA customers?
26 February 2020, 6:25 PM

Technology company Huawei has unveiled a new range of products planned to be rolled out across the world this week.

The new devices, launching in March, are expected to use the new Huawei Mobile Services (HMS), a replacement to Google Mobile Services (GMS). This follows the US-China trade ban in May 2019.

Though the ban caused panic among users, Huawei South African says the ban did not do much harm to its brand and business.

“Our brand surprisingly has actually grown year-on-year as well as performance in terms of business,” says Akhram Mohamed, Huawei Chief Technology Officer.


Huawei vs Google

The ban restricts Chinese companies from trading with American companies. Huawei was restricted from working with US tech giant Google, however, it can continue working with Android – an open-source platform that can be used by anyone in the world.

The ripple effect of this ban results in Huawei consumers across the world now restricted from using Google services.



HMS customised for SA market

HMS was initially launched in other markets, but not in its current form. It had to be customised for the  South African market.

Those who bought Huawei phones before the ban will continue to use their smartphones as the phones were bought before the ban.

”If you’ve got a Huawei phone that you gotten maybe a year ago or six months ago, in actual fact you will not see any difference , material difference to your experience or to using the phone because it’s still GMS and no matter what happens, even if the ban continues, that phone will still function because it was releases ,it was sold and it was manufactured and approved prior to any of these restrictions taking place,” says Mohamed.

He says consumers with older phones still have a legal commitment from Huawei and Google to fulfil the services initially offered.

Huawei explains how consumers will be able to access most applications on their new devices. Instead of downloading apps from the Google Play Store, users will now use HMS App store.

“The device runs Android, 80% of applications should still run,” says Mohamed.

The Apps including WhatsApp, Instagram, Facebook  Gmail, and Google maps can still run on Huawei devices.


However, instead of downloading  American Apps like Facebook, Instagram and Twitter directly from the HMS App store, users will have to search for the apps on their browser and download them from the internet.

Facebook works on the new smartphones, but to download it, one will have to use a link. Google Maps also works, but not all functionalities are available. Google Maps will not save locations on new Huawei devices like it did in previous models.

As phone makers aim to offer a more seamless experience when using smartphones, they say it is not worried about the additional step in accessing some applications as being a turnoff to users.

Google, however, has issued a warning to consumers, advising them not to sideload its Android Apps on the new Huawei devices. These include Google Mail (GMAIL) and Google Maps.


“We have continued to receive a number of questions about new Huawei devices (e.g., new models launching now, or earlier models launched after May 16, 2019 but now becoming available in new regions of the world) and whether Google’s apps and services can be used on these devices,” notes Google.


“Due to government restrictions, Google’s apps and services are not available for preload or sideload on new Huawei devices,” Google mentions.


Huawei however advises that it has added security measures that warn consumers if the Apps they are downloading are not safe. Huawei says being a third player in the market will benefit consumers as it will drive costs down and competition between brands increases.

We asked the question: Should the ban be lifted in the future, would Huawei drop its HMS and go back to using Google services?

Here is Mohamed’s answer: “We’d have to see at the time, but what I can say is that  It’s one of the reasons we’re still using Android.”

Android is very mature and Android was not created just by Google. It’s been through a partnership of companies, Huawei being one of them,” says  Mohamed.

He says Huawei has been involved in helping Android grow which is why the companies still run their phones on Android.

“So perhaps if that goes away, we might still have some collaboration. At the same time, we have invested a lot into HMS, we have our own capabilities. We can produce something I think that’s the message. We’ll have to see when that happens,” says Mohamed.






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