South Africa will evacuate citizens from the coronavirus outbreak epicenter Wuhan, China, according to a statement by the country’s presidency late on Thursday night.
“The Cabinet has decided on this course of action after due consideration of the circumstances, and following several requests from families of South Africans in the city [Wuhan],” read the statement.
It confirmed that President Cyril Ramaphosa had authorized the repatriation of an estimated 199 South African citizens from Wuhan, which is in China’s central Hubei province.
“At this stage, 132 of them have expressed a desire to be repatriated. These compatriots are currently living under lockdown conditions, following the outbreak of the coronavirus,’’ Ramaphosa said.
He said none of the South Africans in Wuhan have been diagnosed with COVID-19 nor have they exhibited any symptoms.
“Upon arrival in South Africa, they will be placed in quarantine for 21 days as an additional precautionary measure,” said the president.
Ramaphosa also reiterated South Africa’s confidence in China’s ability to control the outbreak of the virus.
The deadly coronavirus has claimed nearly 2,900 lives around the world since it emerged last December.
The death toll in China, where the virus originated, is nearly 2,800 and the country has almost 79,000 confirmed COVID-19 cases.
The virus has spread to more than 45 countries, claiming over 50 lives and infecting more than 3,000 people.