Coronavirus outbreak: Dirco issues warning for S.Africans in China

Eighty-one people died in mainland China and around 2,800 people were infected with the virus.

FILE: Passengers wear protective masks to protect against the spread of the Coronavirus as they arrive at the Los Angeles International Airport, California, on 22 January 2020. Picture: AFP

CAPE TOWN - The Department of International Relations and Cooperation (Dirco) has urged South Africans in China to remain up to date with news on the coronavirus.

Eighty-one people died in mainland China and around 2,800 people were infected with the virus.

The Department of Health last week said it had issued clinical guidelines and case definitions for doctors and nurses in the public and the private sectors to better detect, identify, and respond to a possible coronavirus outbreak on local shores.

Dirco said South Africans could contact the department or embassy in China to clarify any uncertainties they might have.

“South African students in China need to adhere to instructions issued by the university. If you want to return to South Africa, you/your parents should contact the bursars or sponsors. Please be advised that leaving the university for South Africa without permission can have far-reaching consequences.

“SA citizens in China with flu symptoms should report to a hospital in their area of residence. If diagnosed with the virus, please inform the SA embassy. Public health authorities will likely inform the embassy too. At this stage, no SA citizens have been diagnosed with the virus,” the department said in a statement.

One South African who teaches English in China said she left for Cambodia before the weekend to escape contracting the virus.

“The only thing people are doing now is wearing masks to try to limit contact with other people. And it’s only not easy to travel around because all public transport has been stopped and even the flights. There wasn’t really much time to make any preparations,” she said.