South African National Defence Force (SANDF) members left South Africa on Tuesday night to repatriate 122 South Africans from Wuhan, the epicentre of the coronavirus outbreak in China.
President Cyril Ramaphosa together with the Health Minister Dr Zweli Mkhize and National Defence Force Minister Nosiviwe Maphisa-Nqakula were at the OR Tambo International Airport to wish SANDF well on their mission to repatriate South African citizens who are in China.
“As South Africans soldiers, you have always been ready at any hour to execute tasks as given by your government. You have done it before and you will do it into the future. You are the pride of our nation.
I wish you strength, energy and the vigilance you require to bring them back home. I want you to go out there knowing that you are carrying the hopes of all South Africans, go with the speed and patriotism and love for our fellow citizens” said Ramaphosa.
COVID 19 has claimed 4,302 lives globally, mostly in Wuhan. More than 116,000 infections have been reported, while 64,000 have recovered from the virus.
The president dismissed the claims that the rescue operation would open South Africa up to further coronavirus infections. “The people we are bringing back are all healthy and not sick. We are not fetching diseases, we are bringing back healthy young people whose parents reached out to us” he added.