Mkhize on coronavirus: We have to get ready

Health Minister Zweli Mkhize said South Africa is fully prepared for any coronavirus outbreak.

JOHANNESBURG - Health Minister Zweli Mkhize says South Africa is fully prepared for any coronavirus outbreak.

Speaking on behalf of an Inter-Ministerial committee at OR Tambo International a short while ago, Mkhize said all the country's ports of entry have been beefed up to screen incoming passengers.

READ: Coronavirus: Expert says South Africans shouldn't panic

"We have to get ready, as there is no country that has a formula to prevent the coronavirus from infecting its people," he said.

Mkhize said South Africans stuck in Wuhan will be repatriated due to the critical coronavirus situation there.

"The process of repatriating South African citizens will be done in three phases," he said.

READ: Govt plans to repatriate South Africans in Wuhan: report

Phase 1 is the evacuation phase; Phase 2 is the quarantine phase and Phase 3 the re-unification phase.

Mkhize said the process is guided by the World Health Organization (WHO) guidelines and the relevant South African laws and policy framework.

He said a multi-disciplinary medical team will be on-board the aircraft.

READ: Coronavirus in SA: Not if, but when says expert

The team will be responsible for pre- and inflight screening and medical care.

"All support staff coming into direct contact with the repatriates will also fall into the quarantine protocol," he said.

Mkhize said human contact and mixing of groups will be limited in the entire process.

He also spoke about the two South Africans who tested positive for the coronavirus on a Japanese cruise ship.

He says once they test negative, they'll be able to return home.

READ: Coronavirus: Two South Africans infected on Japanese cruise ship

"We are in daily contact with the embassy of Japan. We are in touch with cruise liner itself but also we have contacted the citizens.

"Those citizens are receiving direct contact and recovering," he said.


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