Roll call of South Africans in China amid Coronavirus

Tuesday, February 4, 2020

The South African Mission in China has called on travellers to register their presence in China to provide an accurate figure of the number of South Africans in that country.

The call comes as South Africa continues to keep a close watch on developments in China following the declaration of the novel Coronavirus outbreak as a global health emergency by the World Health Organisation (WHO) last week.

Giving an update on developments, the Health Department said the registration of travellers is on a voluntary basis.

The Health Department said it received a report from the South African Mission in China, which gives a situational update of the state of affairs in the Asian country.

“The report has been reassuring in that it outlines in detail the steps that have been taken by the Mission itself, the People’s Republic of China and the international community, including the private sector, in managing the outbreak and the adverse socio-economic sequelae thereof,” said the Health Ministry in a statement.

Within China, limited movement remains important. As a result, the Chinese school holidays have been extended to keep children at home. Government has also encouraged businesses to be more flexible about working hours and it has encouraged working from home as far as possible.

“We have been notified of 34 students, who recently graduated in Hubei Province and are currently unable to leave due to the province currently being under lockdown.

“However, due to the extension of the holidays and China’s commitments to supporting embassies and their respective citizens during the lockdown period, we remain confident that our students will be well taken care of, until such time they may be allowed to exit Hubei Province,” said the Ministry.

The Health Department reiterated that to date, no South Africans in China have been reported to have contracted the virus.

According to the report from the South African Mission, very careful attention is being paid to food security and logistics to ensure residents of Wuhan City and Hubei Province do not run out of food and basic essentials.

Since the start of the outbreak, organisations such as the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, Boeing, Dell, Apple, L’Oreal and others have donated supplies, which range from face masks and other personal protection equipment, to funds that will go into research to develop a vaccine.

“This is the expected outcome of the WHO Declaration of a Public Health Emergency of International Concern, and so we are very pleased to see multilateral collaboration at this level. 

“We would also like to congratulate the Japanese government for its strength in supporting the Chinese government. There are also thousands of volunteers who have donated their time and services to the cause,” said the Health Department.

To date, there is no proven medicine or vaccine against Coronavirus.

“We are in close communication with the National Institute of Communicable Diseases, which continues to advise us on developments in the treatment of Coronavirus, based on sound academic literature.

“African countries outside of South Africa will make their own pronouncements on their response to Coronavirus and we expect that should there be a confirmed case, we will hear from the affected country’s authorities or the World Health Organisation,” said the department.

Anyone who experiences flu-like symptoms, with a travel history or contact with someone who has travelled, particularly to China, should seek immediate medical attention at their nearest clinic, GP or hospital.

The Emergency Operation Centre remains activated.

The Department of International Relations (DIRCO) has also established a hotline service in the South African Embassy in Beijing +85 135 0105 9041 and Shanghai +86 159 0045 4282 for South African nationals based in Wuhan City, China. –