Limpopo confirmed as quarantine site for South Africans repatriated from Wuhan
The 122 South Africans who are due to land in SA on Friday, will be placed in quarantine in Polokwane in Limpopo.
According to National Health Minister Dr Zweli Mkhize, the South Africans due to land in Limpopo have all tested negative for coronavirus.
Mkhize said the site was chosen as it was far from other communities.
"We looked at 84 other possible sites but there were factors that were not suitable. It was narrowed down to three sites that would be most comfortable for those returning. The sites needed to also be close to landing spaces. The venue in Limpopo was ideal. It satisfied all the requirements. We signed an agreement with the owners and the staff of the venue," he said.
He was speaking during a media briefing in Limpopo on Thursday.
Mkhize said none of the South Africans who are due to arrive on Friday were sick or exhibited any symptoms. He said the decision to repatriate, was purely on a humanitarian basis.
"The president instructed the SANDF to assist and bring them back to SA. This meant that the SANDF had to take over managing the process. The SANDF then appointed a team to be in charge with all facets of the process," he said.
He said anyone of the 122 who test positive while in quarantine, they will be immediately removed and treated.
He said the repatriation would be done in three phases; the evacuation, the quarantine and reintegration to society.
Mkhize said the planning took several days as China still had travel restrictions.
"When they arrive in SA, they will be in quarantine for 14 days and tests will be conducted. They will come back to a site where there are no communities close by. We chose this area because it is so isolated and regular patrols by the army and SAPS will be conducted. We are only observing them," Mkhize said.
The minister said currently, there are 16 confirmed cases in SA.
"Up to now, we have been conducting tests at the government lab and then release the results. We are now ready to decentralise the testing both of provincial labs and work with private labs. One of the patients who underwent testing has since tested negative for coronavirus. There were 17 cases and one of them was reported in the Free State where the patient came into contact with a person who recently arrived in SA. His tests were confirmed by a private lab and he was placed into self quarantine. However, his tests have proven negative," Mkhize said.
He said the department has withdrawn an earlier statement which said the Free State man had come into contact with a Chinese national. He said this was not confirmed.
He said there will be a meeting on Saturday with private labs to strengthen protocols of testing and confirming results.
Mkhize said the group of students who arrived in Limpopo recently were not at risk, however with mounting speculation, the department took precautions and had the students tested. He said 14 students were tested two days ago. He said the results on Thursday, revealed that all 14 tested negative.
"We only tested them to allay the community's fears. Those students have not been infected and the tests were done to quell community rumours," he said.