President Cyril Ramaphosa addressing those at the Ranch Resort on Sunday
President Cyril Ramaphosa addressing those at the Ranch Resort on Sunday

Durban resident excited to go home after quarantine at Ranch Resort

By Karen Singh Time of article published Mar 30, 2020

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Durban - Resident Joss Potgieter - who was one of the 112 South Africans evacuated from the coronavirus epicentre Wuhan, China, and spent 14 days in quarantine in Limpopo - said she was excited to be going home to her family.

On Sunday, President Cyril Ramaphosa gave the green light for the South Africans to return to their families. 

Addressing media at the Ranch Resort in Limpopo, where the group were quarantined, Ramaphosa announced that Health Minister Zweli Mkhize and the military medical officers had declared the venue a green zone after the repatriates, the personnel who brought them home and the hotel staff had tested negative for Covid-19 again.

In total, there were 280 people who were in quarantine at the facility.

Potgieter said while they had a bit of anxiety about going into the outside world, they were excited they would be seeing their loved ones.

“I’m very excited to be reunited with my family. I’m happy that the president has taken the measures he has, to protect us all, and I’m confident because of that, that I will be safely reunited with them,” she said.

Potgieter said she would be going into her third quarantine, as the country was in lockdown - after having been in lockdown in Wuhan and in quarantine in Limpopo.

“We feel safe here, though. It was the perfect environment for us to come out of what we had experienced.

“I’m just grateful to have been safe so far and for our wonderful leadership. Our president has done a good job. God is good,” she said.

Ramaphosa thanked the evacuation team and their families for volunteering, and agreeing to be quarantined, which included members of the SANDF, the Health Department and SAA.

“I characterise the mission that you undertook as a most dangerous mission, you were going into unknown territory The real heart of Covid-19, and you said you were willing to go there.

“Not many people would voluntarily go into a danger zone,” Ramaphosa said.

He told the group that they were able to beat Covid-19 because they were under lockdown in China.

“Now you are going into another lockdown because this is the most dangerous virus. Unless we are disciplined, like you have been, we will be consumed by this virus.

“Many of our people in South Africa are abiding by the lockdown regulations, but there are still some pockets here and there who are still carrying on as though the virus does not exist.

“Go and spread the word, and tell our compatriots that yes, coronavirus is a reality and we must look after ourselves.”

Ramaphosa said he would sign certificates of excellence for each of the resort’s employees who voluntarily stayed at the hotel during the quarantine period.

“I was telling the health minister that if there are people deserving certificates of excellent service, it is none other than you. I am going to sign certificates of excellent service for each one of you. You are going to receive signed certificates coming from the Union Buildings. The certificates will be signed by the president, to thank you,” Ramaphosa said, to cheers from the workers.

“You were prepared to sacrifice, because when we brought these students and put them under quarantine, that could have resulted in any of them having the virus and spreading it among you. You were prepared to take that risk.

“Now you can return to your families. We are grateful to your families for allowing you to be here.”

Dr Ahmed Bham, the Department of Health’s head of emergency and disaster medicine, who also volunteers for the KwaZulu-Natal-based Gift of the Givers, said the mission had been a huge task but they were glad that it had been achieved.

Bham added that there was a lot to learn about resilience and unity from the quarantined group. “It’s been an honour to serve and we are ready to go to the next mission,” Bham said.

SAA captain Vusi Khumalo said: “When we heard your (the president’s) call, we did not even hesitate to say we would do it, because it was a national crisis and we were actually, in the beginning, worried of the delay and said we must go and fetch our South Africans.”

Minister of Health Zweli Mkhize thanked all those involved in the mission: “We want to say to you, you have made us proud.”

The Mercury

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