Cape Town – Two South African citizens working on a Japanese cruise ship have tested positive for the coronavirus, the Health Department said on Friday.
"The South African government has been 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 when it was affected by Covid-19 (coronavirus)," the ministry said in a statement.
"On 25 February 2020, we were informed by the Japanese authorities that two of these South Africans tested positive for Covid-19. They are currently being treated in Japan and the latest reports indicate that they are currently asymptomatic,"
"At this stage, it is most appropriate that the Covid-19 confirmed South African citizens should be treated in Japan until they are fully recovered from the virus and are no longer contagious before they travel further.
"For the remaining 10, they will be permitted to disembark the ship as per the instructions of their employer after they tested negative for coronavirus, be subjected to a further 14-day quarantine in Japan, then further tested thereafter to determine if they may be cleared for travel.
"South Africa will continue to monitor the situation closely and maintain contact with the government of Japan in order to keep the public informed."
Last night, the Presidency announced South Africans living in Wuhan, the capital of China’s Hubei province and the epicentre of the novel coronavirus, will be repatriated.
A total of 199 South Africans live in Wuhan, according to the latest consolidated list from the Department of International Relations and Co-operation. Of these, 132 have expressed the desire to come home, said Ramaphosa’s spokesperson, Khusela Diko.
“These compatriots are currently living under lockdown conditions following the outbreak of the coronavirus.
"The cabinet has decided on this course of action after due consideration of the circumstances, and following several requests from the families of South Africans in the city,” she said.
The South Africans in that city will be placed in quarantine for 21 days as an additional precautionary measure upon arrival in the country.
“None of the affected individuals has been diagnosed with the virus nor have they exhibited any symptoms thereof. The government has been in constant communication with the families of all affected individuals, and relevant departments have made the necessary arrangements to receive them.”
Diko said the departments of Health and Defence would deploy health-care personnel and supporting staff to provide assistance during the repatriation and quarantine processes.
“The Department of International Relations and Co-operation will deploy consular services personnel to provide consular assistance.
“The Department of Home Affairs will provide immigration services. Department of Social Development (DSD) will offer trauma counselling and support. Further details in this regard will be communicated by the relevant line function ministries.”
The coronavirus has mainly affected China, resulting in 78 596 cases and 2 746 deaths. It has spread to a further 44 countries, with 3246 cases and 51 deaths reported.
The World Health Organisation (WHO) declared the outbreak of the virus as a public health emergency of international concern. The COVID-19 virus was first detected in November.