SA president orders evacuation of citizens from China

South African President Cyril Ramaphosa

JOHANNESBURG, South Africa – South Africa’s President Cyril Ramaphosa on Thursday ordered the repatriation of his nearly two hundred citizens from the central Chinese city of Wuhan, epicenter of the coronavirus outbreak, his office said in a statement.

Radical quarantining measures have helped slow the rate of transmission in China of the virus, which can cause pneumonia, but it is picking up pace outside China.

The statement said that 132 of the 199 South Africans currently in Wuhan under lockdown conditions had requested to come home.

“None of the affected individuals has been diagnosed with the virus nor have they exhibited any symptoms thereof,” the statement said.

“Upon arrival in South Africa, they will be placed in quarantine for 21 days as an additional precautionary measure.”

The coronavirus — COVID-19, as this new strain is called — is thought to have originated in a market selling wildlife in Wuhan late last year. It has infected about 80,000 people and killed more than 2,700, mostly in China.

On Friday, Nigeria announced the first confirmed case of coronavirus in sub-Saharan Africa.

The health commissioner for Lagos, Africa’s largest city with more than 20 million people, said an Italian citizen who entered Nigeria on Tuesday from Milan on a business trip fell ill the next day.

Commissioner Akin Abayomi said the man was transferred to Lagos State Biosecurity Facilities for isolation and testing. The patient was clinically stable with no serious symptoms and was being managed at the Infectious Disease Hospital in Yaba, Lagos.

Egypt and Algeria are the only other African countries that have confirmed cases of coronavirus. – Reuters