President Cyril Ramaphosa met with SA National Defence Force members to bid them well on their mission to repatriate 122 South Africans from coronavirus-hit Wuhan in China.
"I have full confidence that our soldiers will execute this mission successfully. This is a task to bring back our children from China," Ramaphosa said at OR Tambo International Airport ahead of their departure on Tuesday.
He also took the opportunity to assure South Africa that the returnees are healthy.
The team will stop in the Philippines on the way to Wuhan, which is the epicentre of the outbreak.
"They are not sick, and we need to make that very clear - we are not going to fetch disease-ridden people out of China. We are bringing back healthy people whose parents are all like us. They have said we would like our children to come back," Ramaphosa said.
To date, South Africa has seven confirmed Covid-19 cases relating to a group of 10 who returned from Italy on March 1.
Patient zero is a father of two from Hilton, KwaZulu-Natal.
This case was followed by a second confirmed case on Saturday - a 39-year-old woman from Gauteng who was also part of the group.
A third case was confirmed on Sunday - patient zero's wife.
The couple's children, however, tested negative for the virus.