The South African National Defence Force (SANDF) will lead an operation of evacuating more than 100 South Africans citizens from Wuhan, in China.
President Cyril Ramaphosa on Thursday night said the 132 expatriates living in Wuhan Province, the epicentre of the coronavirus, should be evacuated.
Two South Africans tested positive for COVID-19 after working on a Japanese cruise ship. Ten others are still on board the Diamond Princess ship, docked in the port of Yokohama.
There have been 700 cases and four deaths on the quarantined cruise.
The Department of Health says the country is ready to deal with the repatriation. Acting Director-General, Anban Pillay, explains the process.
“Before they come to SA we will again test them to make sure that they are negative so that we do not transport people that are ill and then we will bring them to SA. I will have to put them into an area of quarantine so that they are cleared before we release them into the community of SA because the worst thing is to have somebody who has the virus or incubating the virus and spreading it to other people and we only find out later. So we would like to keep them in an incubation period under quarantine so that we understand that everybody who is going to be released is free of the infection.”
In the video below, Department of Health Acting Director-General, Anban Pillay, says the South Africans living in China have been negatively affected by the coronavirus outbreak:
Two tested positive
Department of Health spokesperson, Lwazi Manzi, says at this stage the two people who have tested positive will not be brought home until they have recovered from the virus.
“The two South Africans that tested positive were immediately removed from the Diamond Cruise ship and have been placed in a facility in Tokyo. They are in isolation within the treatment facility. They are in a very stable condition. They are fine but of course, we want to make sure that they are clear of COVID-19 before they are allowed to move any further.”
South Africans on lockdown in China
South Africans in China say they are anticipating communication from the government over when they will be evacuated from epicentre region of the coronavirus outbreak.
“I think they are still trying to get hold of the Chinese authorities and they will tell us later on. We heard news that they are trying to locate facilities for us to be quarantined. They said they will let us know. It is really scary because now we have been on lockdown for more than a month and there is a feeling of not knowing what tomorrow holds. So it has been scary and we have panicked a lot since the lockdown because we can’t do anything,” says South African student in China, Kamohelo Taole.
National Institute for Communicable Diseases says to date South Africa still has no confirmed cases of COVID-19.
Coronavirus in Africa
Nigeria has confirmed its first case of coronavirus, this is also the first confirmed case in Sub-Saharan Africa.
The Commissioner for Health in Lagos State, Akin Ababyomi, says the man entered the country on a Turkish Airlines flight that travelled via Istanbul.
The man travelled from Milan in Italy, then spent the night in a hotel near the airport in Nigeria, sparking fears that more people – who came into contact with him – could have contracted the infection.
As SABC Correspondent Phil Ihaza reports, citing the Ministry of Health, the Italian businessman is in a stable condition.
Public outrage in Kenya
In Kenya, President Uhuru Kenyatta has announced the establishment of a national emergency response committee on coronavirus.
Kenyatta’s announcement also following public outrage after a plane carrying 239 passengers landed in the country on Wednesday from China. Passengers aboard the Southern China Airlines were allowed to disembark at the Jomo Kenyatta International Airport and advised to self-quarantine for 14 days.
Kenyatta said in an executive order that his actions were in public interest, noting that there is a significant threat arising from the potential spread of the coronavirus to Kenya from countries that have the disease.
The newly formed committee will among other things formulate, enforce and review processes and requirements that regulate entry into Kenya of persons known or suspected to have travelled from a Coronavirus affected area.
President Kenyatta announced the establishment of a national emergency response committee on coronavirus
SABC journalist Sarah Kimani reports from Nairobi…
Below is a Live Tracking of the cases, death toll and other information: