President orders evacuation from China

President Cyril Ramaphosa has directed the repatriation of South African citizens from Wuhan city in Hubei province, China.

Cabinet 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.

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 (DIRCO). At this stage, 132 of them have expressed the desire to be repatriated.

“These compatriots are currently living under lockdown conditions following the outbreak of Coronavirus.

“None of the affected individuals has been diagnosed with the virus and they have not exhibited any symptoms thereof. Upon arrival in South Africa, they will be placed in quarantine for 21 days as an additional precautionary measure,” said the Presidency.

Government has been in constant communication with the families of all affected individuals and relevant departments have made the necessary arrangements to receive them.

The Departments of Health and Defence will deploy healthcare personnel and supporting staff to provide assistance during the repatriation and quarantine processes. DIRCO will deploy consular services personnel to provide consular assistance. Department of Home Affairs will provide immigration services. Department of Social Development will offer trauma counselling and support. Further details in this regard will be communicated by the relevant line function ministries.

The World Health Organisation (WHO) declared the outbreak of the virus as a Public Health Emergency of International Concern. This set in motion coordination efforts worldwide, as well as the implementation of strict surveillance measures.

COVID-19 virus (Coronavirus) was first reported in Wuhan, China, in November 2019.

President Ramaphosa has expressed solidarity with the people and government of China. He has also expressed sincere gratitude to the Chinese government and people for their assistance and support during this period.

“He has reiterated South Africa’s confidence in China’s ability to control the outbreak of the virus, as evidenced by amongst others, the commendable progress made to date,” said the Presidency.