The South African National Defence Force (SANDF) plane that has been identified and prepared to repatriate South Africans in China remains grounded.

This comes after Defence Force personnel tasked with the repatriation process are unwilling to travel to China due to safety concerns.

SANDF has been tasked with returning the 184 South Africans from Wuhan city in China which is considered the epicentre of the outbreak of the coronavirus.

Originally, 150 people indicated they wanted to return home, but this number has increased to 184.

In the video, Health Minister, Dr Zweli Mkhize gives update on Wuhan evacuation plans:

This is reflected in a letter from President Cyril Ramaphosa to National Assembly Speaker Thandi Modise.

He says this will also be communicated to the National Council of Provinces (NCOP).

In his letter, the President informed the National Assembly that it will cost R25 million to assist the Departments of Health and Department of International Relations and Co-operation (DIRCO) to return the South African citizens back to their county.

In the video, President Ramaphosa says if not dealt with effectively, an outbreak of the deadly coronavirus in South Africa will have a negative impact on the country’s already fragile economy.

The letter dated the 28th of February, came just five days before the first coronavirus case was confirmed in KwaZulu-Natal.

Health Minister Zweli Mkhize told the National Assembly that the patient has been quarantined, while the doctor who examined the patient has also gone into self-isolation.

He says the patient was one of a group of ten people who recently travelled to Italy.

Mkhize says the remainder of the group is also being traced to check if they could have been exposed to the virus.

SA ready for coronavirus

Mkhize says preparations for the repatriation of South Africans from China are progressing well.

Ahead of the debate on the disease on Thursday in the National Assembly, the Health Minister told Parliament’s Portfolio Committee on Health that South Africa will be up to the task, should the country face an outbreak of the virus.

In the video below, Minister Mkhize says South Africa is taking necessary precautions at major ports of entry:

Below is an infographic on government’s repatriation plans: