South Africa to repatriate students from Wuhan

South African President Cyril Ramaphosa in Downing Street, London talks to the waiting media after having bilateral talk with Prime Minister Theresa May. (Photo by Victoria Jones/PA Images via Getty Images)
FILE PHOTO: South African President Cyril Ramaphosa
./REUTERS/Denis Balibouse/File Photo

South Africa’s President Cyril Ramaphosa has ordered the repatriation of some 132 South Africans living in China’s Wuhan city, the epicentre of the coronavirus outbreak.

The decision was announced on Thursday following a cabinet meeting and after requests from families of South Africans living in the city, the president’s office said.

“The Cabinet has decided on this course of action after due consideration of the circumstances and following several requests from the families of South Africans in the city,” the Presidency said in a statement on Thursday.

“It is estimated that there are 199 South Africans citizens in Wuhan as per the latest consolidated list from the Department of International Relations and Cooperation.”

The Presidency said none of the individuals had been diagnosed with the virus or exhibited any symptoms.

“Upon arrival in South Africa, they will be placed in quarantine for 21 days as an additional precautionary measure,” the statement said.

The departments of health and defence will deploy healthcare personnel and supporting staff to provide assistance during the repatriation and quarantine processes.

Dirco would provide consular assistance, while the Department of Home Affairs would provide immigration services.

The social development department would offer trauma counselling and support.

Ramaphosa thanked the Chinese government and people for their assistance and support, reiterating South Africa’s confidence in China’s ability to control the outbreak of the virus “as evidenced by, among others, the commendable progress made to date”.