2 South Africans infected on coronavirus-hit Japanese cruise ship given green light to return home

A member of the media wearing a face mask walks past the Diamond Princess cruise ship at Daikoku Pier.
A member of the media wearing a face mask walks past the Diamond Princess cruise ship at Daikoku Pier.
Carl Court/Getty Images

Two South Africans working on a cruise ship who had earlier tested positive for the coronavirus will soon be heading home after undergoing treatment.

Government Communication and Information System acting director-general Phumla Williams said the pair have since tested negative for the virus.

She added the two were working on the Diamond Princess when they initially tested positive for Covid-19.

Williams said they were pleased to announce that the pair were heading home after being given the greenlight.

READ | Effect of coronavirus on SA would be devastating - Ramaphosa

Meanwhile, negotiations with several service providers to serve as a quarantine area have yet to be concluded, she added 

"At this stage, the technical team is working hard to finalise this critical area of work and there is no specific venue that has been confirmed. We can, however, reassure that this work will be concluded soon.

"We therefore wish to discourage any speculation about possible sites, which some media houses have reported on their respective platforms. We have also received some disturbing reports of some of the potential service providers being intimidated. 

"This intimidation makes it very difficult for [the] government to speedily conclude preparations," Williams said.

She added there were no reported cases of the coronavirus in the country. 

"The Department of Health will continue monitoring the situation closely and has put plans in place to deal with any possible detection of the virus. Port Health Services has also doubled its efforts to screen all travellers at ports of entry. 

"Travellers visiting the country are being subjected to health screenings before they disembark on flights or are allowed to enter the country," said Williams.


A week ago, President Cyril Ramaphosa announced the decision to repatriate South Africans currently residing in Wuhan. 

The decision was prompted by their request to return home. 

Williams said subsequent to Ramaphosa's announcement, a multidisciplinary team consisting of the ministers of health, social development, police and home affairs as well as the Department of International Relations and Cooperation and SA National Defence Force were constituted.

The team will be supported operationally by the National Joint Operational and Intelligence Structure, which has commenced with logistical arrangements.

Williams said, to date, logistical plans to repatriate the South Africans were at an advanced stage. 

ALSO READ | SA army's plans to bring back South Africans from Wuhan in full swing

"A total of 184 South Africans have indicated their desire to be repatriated. Most of them are students, teachers and other professionals currently working in Wuhan. At this stage, only seven South Africans have opted to remain in Wuhan."

She said an aircraft, with the capacity to bring them home, had been secured.

"An interdisciplinary team of relevant departments will form part of the repatriation team from China to South Africa. They will be working with Chinese authorities to screen the group of South Africans before they depart Wuhan. 

"With the support of the South African Embassy in China, a ground transport plan is being put in place to ensure that all citizens, who are to be evacuated, are safely brought to a central collection point from where they will be transported home," Williams said.

She called on members of the public to stop spreading fake news about the virus. 

Family members who require more information about their loved ones can contact the international relations and cooperation department.

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