Understandable to evacuate SA citizens because of coronavirus fears, says Chinese embassy
PRETORIA - The Chinese embassy in Pretoria said on Friday that South Africa's decision to evacuate citizens from the Asian country's novel coronavirus (COVID-19) hotspot was "understandable".
“The decision made by the SA government is understandable to address the anxiety and concern of its citizens and families resulting from over one month of quarantine in a city far away from their motherland,” the embassy said in a statement.
President Cyril Ramaphosa on Wednesday night announced the repatriation of 132 South Africans from Wuhan city, in the Hubei province of China, the epicentre of the pandemic.
The citizens had been in lockdown following the outbreak of the virus.
The remaining 67 South Africans in the area had not expressed a desire to be repatriated, according to the presidency.
None of the individuals had been diagnosed with COVID-19 or displayed any symptoms of the disease. They would be placed in quarantine for 21 days as a precautionary measure upon arrival in South Africa, said the presidency.
The embassy said it appreciated the support and strong solidarity from South Africa.
“We would also like to express our gratitude to all the SA citizens and students now in China, including those who are about to be evacuated back to SA, for their understanding, cooperation, support, sacrifice and contributions to our effective control and prevention efforts against the epidemic in China.
"Their friendship, brotherhood and solidarity at this difficult time has been tested and will always be cherished by the Chinese government and people,” read the statement.
Meanwhile, two South African citizens working on a Japanese cruise ship who tested positive for the virus were receiving treatment and would only be allowed to travel after being cleared, health department spokesperson Lwazi Manzi said on Friday.
This comes after the South African government was made aware by Japanese authorities through the South African embassy in Tokyo that there were 12 South African crew members working on board the Diamond Princess Cruise Ship, which had been affected by COVID-19.African News Agency