Two South African citizens who tested positive for coronavirus (Covid-19) on a Japanese cruise ship will only return to SA once they test negative, Health Minister Zweli Mkhize has said.

“We have been assured that they are recovering. When they test negative they will be free to return, except those going through quarantine.

“Thereafter they will return without restrictions,” Mkhize said at a briefing on Sunday in Johannesburg.

The briefing comes after President Cyril Ramaphosa announced on Thursday that the government was planning to repatriate South African citizens from the Chinese city of Wuhan, where the deadly coronavirus originated.

The 151 citizens who will be returning from Wuhan, China have not tested positive for the deadly virus, Mkhize said. They are healthy, but will still go through a 21-day quarantine period.

The South African government was alerted by Japanese authorities through the South African embassy in Tokyo on February 25, that there were 12 South African crew members working on board the Diamond Princess cruise ship when it was affected by Covid-19.

The two South Africans were part of the crew.

“We are in constant contact with our embassy in Japan and the Diamond Princess parked off the coast of Yokohama.

“Those citizens from the cruise liner are receiving direct contact with our team to monitor their progress,” Mkhize added.

News24 earlier reported the health ministry stated that the remaining 10 crew members who did not test positive would “be permitted to disembark the ship as per the instructions of their employer after they test negative for coronavirus, be subjected to a further 14-day quarantine in Japan, then further tested thereafter to determine if they may be cleared for travel”.

At this stage, South Africa is still free of the virus, with no confirmed case of Covid-19 as of Sunday, Mkhize said.

 

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