President Cyril Ramaphosa and Minister of Health Dr Zweli Mkhize conducted a walk about of the OR Tambo International Airport Tuesday night
Acting Department of Health Director-General, Dr Anban Pillay says the medical team travelling to China to go repatriate the 121 South Africans in Wuhan province have been properly equipped and trained.
They are equipped with the necessary gear to keep themselves and the repatriates free from the coronavirus.
Dr Pillay together with President Cyril Ramaphosa, Minister of Health Dr Zweli Mkhize and Minister of Defence and Military Veterans Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula conducted a walkabout of the OR Tambo International Airport Tuesday night, ahead of the arrival of South African citizens from Wuhan on Friday.
Dr Pillay says everyone will be quarantined once they return.
He says: “The team will have all the protective gear, they have been trained on how to use it. When they arrive in SA, they will move directly into the quarantine area. Those that are on board the aircraft will remain in the quarantine area for the entire period of the quarantine.
Dr Pillay has provided details of the flight’s planned route and repatriation procedure.
“So the flight goes from Johannesburg to the Philippines, it has to refuel – they will have a stopover. I think 48 hours is what is going to be and they will move on to Wuhan. They will pick up the students, refuel and then fly non-stop back to South Africa. By the way, they’re not only students there are also teachers and other people in the group as well. They have their meeting point which they’ve been using for other countries as well. That’s where they will be picked up from. The aircraft will be on the ground for 8 hours. The last number I received from International Relations is 121 that have confirmed but I suppose when the aircraft lands we’ll find out exactly how many are going to be coming along.”
The mission is a first of its kind undertaken by the South African government.
To date, the virus has claimed more than 4 000 lives globally.
In South Africa, seven people who returned from Italy in a group are being treated for the virus.
President Ramaphosa conveyed his utmost gratitude to the team for displaying bravery during adversity.
“We are delighted that you heeded the order to go out and repatriate our fellow South Africans, you are our patriots. We are proud of you, this is an important mission. The entire nation will be looking at how you execute this mission. I would like to thank you from the bottom of my heart,” adds the President.