WRAP | 9 points about the mission to fly home South Africans from coronavirus-hit Wuhan

President Ramaphosa, ministers of health, and defence with the team that will undertake the mission to Wuhan, China.
President Ramaphosa, ministers of health, and defence with the team that will undertake the mission to Wuhan, China.
Canny Maphanga, News24
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11 Mar 2020

President Cyril Ramaphosa on Tuesday met with the team heading to Wuhan in China to repatriate 122 South African citizens.

"Go with speed, with God and bring our children back home," Ramaphosa said at OR Tambo International Airport ahead of their departure. "Thank you very much for having taken on this mission."

Here are 9 points you should know:

1. About 122 citizens living in Wuhan are expected to return home

2. The flight leaves from OR Tambo International Airport on Tuesday at 21:00

3. The flight will stop over in the Philippines on Wednesday for refuelling, to rest and to restock essential foodstuffs

4. After the stopover, the aircraft will fly to Wuhan City where it will remain for about 8 hours

5. Screenings and checking of required travel documents will take place

6. The flight will leave Wuhan City in the early hours of the morning and land back in South Africa on Friday

7. No South Africans coming home are showing any symptoms of the Covid-19 virus

8. The group will be quarantined for 21 days upon their arrival under the supervision of the SANDF

9. The mission costs R25 million

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- Compiled by Adiel Ismail

10 Mar 2020

The mission would cost R25 million and included 151 members of the SA National Defence Force (SANDF), according to the letter Ramaphosa sent to National Assembly Speaker Thandi Modise to inform Parliament of the deployment.


Coronavirus: Ramaphosa to see off 151 soldiers on R25m mission to Wuhan

10 Mar 2020

General Solly Shoke makes sure to ask for a bigger budget for the defence force.

Ramaphosa laughs.

10 Mar 2020

Collaboration and cooperation between teams in Cabinet has been wonderful, Ramphosa says.

"I was on my way to Cape Town," when Mkhize phoned and requested that Ramaphosa come say goodbye to the team.

10 Mar 2020

Out of the 8000 infected people in China, none of them is South African, Mkhize says.

10 Mar 2020

There is constant communication between various departments on the coronavirus says Mkhize.

10 Mar 2020

We work like one team says Mkhize about the different departments of government

10 Mar 2020

Mkhize says the whole mission comes from the president and he was also available to give directive.

10 Mar 2020

When they approached, they did not hesitate says Mapisa-Nqakula about the team who will do the repatriation.

10 Mar 2020

Mapisa-Nqakula says it is true that they won't be sleeping, there have been misunderstandings but they are happy that the plane is about to take off.

"Up until a few minutes it was difficult," she says.

10 Mar 2020

Defence Minister Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula thanks South Africans for their support

10 Mar 2020

Ramaphosa says he is hugely impressed with how officials are prepared to screen people coming into the country through all ports.

"Here there are various levels and stages [of screening]," says Ramaphosa, compared to other countries.

10 Mar 2020

The repatriated people will be put on lockdown under the supervision of the defence force, Ramaphosa says.

No disease will spill out of the unknown designated area because no sick people will be brought back.

10 Mar 2020

All the 121 people coming back are very healthy, "We are not bringing disease ridden people," says Ramaphosa.

10 Mar 2020

Ramaphosa says Minister Mkhize will still have testing times, and won't have sleep until the plane with the South Africans lands.

10 Mar 2020

"Go with speed, with God and bring our children back home.

"Thank you very much for having taken on this mission," Ramaphosa tells soldiers.

10 Mar 2020

SANDF - soldiers, sailor, air men and women, are the pride of the nation says Ramaphosa.

10 Mar 2020

Ministers of health and defence are with Ramaphosa at the briefing.

He thanks soldiers for heeding to the call to repatriate South Africans from Wuhan, China.

"You are going on an important mission," Ramaphosa tells soldiers.

10 Mar 2020

The president and health ministers come out of the isolation wards wearing masks and gloves.

10 Mar 2020

The stopover in Philippines will be about 48 hours where the aircraft will also be refuelled.

The aircraft will be on the ground in Wuhan for a maximum of 8 hours.

10 Mar 2020

Ramaphosa and Mkhize are taken to the isolation ward where travellers are taken to should it be found that they have the Covid-19 virus after a swab is taken.

10 Mar 2020

Ramaphosa and Mkhize are now in the room where patients are taken should high temperatures come up at the screening area.

10 Mar 2020

Ramaphosa and Mkhize are now being shown the forms that are to be completed by travellers. The form takes about two minutes to complete.

Passports are also checked to see that the travel information provided by the travellers is correct.

10 Mar 2020

The president is being screened for his temperatures at the airport as part of his walkabout.

10 Mar 2020

The president and minister are without gloves and masks currently because there is no incoming flights at OR Tambo internationals airport.

10 Mar 2020

The official says that they are compliant with all the processes.

The screening starts at the aircrafts from high risk areas.

Someone with high temperatures is sent to a nearby clinic. They look for symptoms too to take for clinical assessment.

A swab is then taken from suspect infections and sent to the NICD. The person is then quarantined.

10 Mar 2020

There is no incoming aircraft currently at the airport for Ramaphosa and Mkhize to see the second screening process, the official tells them.

10 Mar 2020

Ramaphosa and Health Minister Zweli Mkhize are now taking a tour around OR Tambo International where they are getting briefings from officials of the airport.

10 Mar 2020

A flight is scheduled to leave OR Tambo International Airport on Tuesday night and return with 122 South Africans quarantined in Wuhan, China, amid the global coronavirus outbreak, the inter-ministerial task team handling the repatriation process has confirmed.

They are expected back in the country on Friday.


Plane to leave OR Tambo on Tuesday night to collect SA citizens quarantined in Wuhan

10 Mar 2020

The group will be quarantined for 21 days in South Africa, but should they show symptoms of the coronavirus, they will be quarantined for longer.

The quarantined site is still unknown to the public, but the details about it will be announced "at the appropriate time".

10 Mar 2020

None of the returning South Africans show symptoms of the Covid-19 virus.

10 Mar 2020

Upon arrival in Wuhan, the team will work with the Chinese government but also the staff of the Embassy in China, screening the repatriates and checking required travel documents. 

The flight will leave Wuhan City at the early hours of the morning and land back in South Africa on 13 March.

10 Mar 2020

Of the initial 180 requests to return to South Africa, 122 citizens will return from Wuhan, China.

The other citizens have changed their minds and opted to stay in Wuhan.

10 Mar 2020

On board the flight will be the flight crew from the aircraft company and a total of 15 officials from the Department of Health and the Department of Defence (Military Health).

10 Mar 2020

President Cyril Ramaphosa is expected to do a walkabout at OR Tambo International airport.

10 Mar 2020

The team of 15 officials from the military health and department of defence will depart at 21:00.
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