Covid19: SA citizens in Wuhan heading back home – how ready is SA?

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Dr Zweli Mkhize

With the immediate repatriation of 151 South Africans from Wuhan in China, the government says it has already started implementing plans to prevent the spread of the coronavirus in South Africa.

At a media briefing in Johannesburg on Sunday, an Inter-Ministerial Committee assigned with the repatriation and quarantine of South Africans in Wuhan detailed how this process would work and what plans were in place to prevent the spread of the virus in South Africa.

“Following the president’s directive for the repatriation of asymptomatic South African citizens in Wuhan City, where the epicentre of the outbreak is, such contingency plans are now being effected as a matter of extreme urgency,” Health Minister Zweli Mkhize said.

Of the 201 South Africans in Wuhan, 16 have elected not to come back home while 151 indicated they wanted to return.Mkhize said the process will take between seven and 10 days to complete and will start “immediately”.

The repatriation process will be based on the guidelines of the World Health Organisation (WHO) and will be implemented in three phases: evacuation, quarantine and reunification.

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