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Calls grow for SA govt to evacuate citizens from coronavirus epicentre, Wuhan

Nearly 60 million people are under partial or full lockdowns in cities in China as the Wuhan coronavirus continued to spread across Asia and the rest of the world.

Medical staff in protective clothes are seen carrying a patient from an apartment suspected of having the virus in Wuhan, in Hubei province on 30 January 2020. Picture: AFP

JOHANNESBURG - South Africans in Wuhan, the epicentre of the coronavirus outbreak, have expressed frustration about government’s lack of evacuation plans from the city.

Nearly 60 million people are under partial or full lockdowns in cities in China as the Wuhan coronavirus continued to spread across Asia and the rest of the world.

At least 170 people are dead and more than 7,000 cases were confirmed in mainland China. Several countries, including the US and Japan, flew hundreds of their citizens out of the city.

Rosemary Viljoen said her husband was stuck in a hotel in Wuhan and desperately wanted to come back home.

“I am very worried and our extended family is extremely emotional, we have highs and lows because we are not able to get any measure of when they will be allowed back home. We have different responses from the government,” she said.

Health Minister Zweli Mkhize on Wednesday said he received information from Chinese authorities that there was no need to evacuate South Africans living in the city.

Meanwhile, Sudan said it suspected that two of its citizens who returned to the country from China were infected with the coronavirus.

One of the pair had been in the region of the Chinese city of Wuhan.

WATCH: Coronavirus update: What we know so far

SOUTH AFRICANS STRANDED

Pieter Viljoen arrived in Wuhan last week Monday for a conference and was due to leave on Friday, but the lockdown prevented him from returning home.

Viljoen and his colleague were confined to a hotel and transport in the area was suspended.

“There is no indication from the South African embassy as well as the Department of International Relations and Cooperation of any assistance, although we have requested so,” he said.

He said the city had become a ghost town.

“Most residents are really worried about food supply as well as medical supplies as these are becoming less and less readily available."

Viljoen’s wife, Rosemary, said she was extremely concerned and wanted government to evacuate South Africans stranded in Wuhan.

“We were told by Chinese officials to get permission from the SA government for the evacuations to happen,” she said.

They claimed there were more citizens stranded there than the ones Mkhize announced.

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