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South Africans return from virus-hit Wuhan

March 15, 2020

POLOKWANE, South Africa: South Africa repatriated dozens of its citizens from China on Saturday over the coronavirus, the health ministry said, the first such move by a sub-Saharan country.

The 146 South Africans were working and studying in Wuhan city, which was placed under lockdown for around two months after the novel virus was first detected in December.

They landed at Polokwane International Airport, in South Africa´s northern Limpopo province, where they will be quarantined in a remote resort for 21 days.

"Flight LMG 755 from Wuhan city has landed with the South African citizens," said health ministry spokesman Popo Maja said.

"There are 146 South Africans on that flight, excluding the crew."

The returnees will only be released after they get a clean bill of health at the end of the mandatory quarantine.

Government officials have assured that none of the group are infected by the virus and that the quarantine measures are only a precaution.

The entire screening, airlifting, quarantine operation is being led by the military. Limpopo residents have criticised the government, claiming the quarantine site is endangering people living around the area.