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Coronavirus: Ramaphosa orders evacuation of SA citizens from Wuhan

In a statement released on Thursday night, President Cyril Ramaphosa said the decision followed several requests from South Africans living in Wuhan - the Chinese city considered to be the epicentre of the virus.

This photo taken on 4 February 2020 shows a medical staff member (R) taking samples from a person to be tested for the new coronavirus at a quarantine zone in Wuhan, the epicentre of the outbreak, in China's central Hubei province. Picture: AFP

JOHANNESBURG - President Cyril Ramaphosa has on Thursday called on all South Africans living in Wuhan, China, to come back home as fears mount over the continuous spread of the coronavirus.

More than 78,000 cases of the respiratory disease have been recorded including two cases in Africa.

In a statement released on Thursday night, Ramaphosa said the decision followed several requests from South Africans living in Wuhan - the Chinese city considered to be the epicentre of the virus.

“It is estimated that there are 199 South Africans citizens in Wuhan as per the latest consolidated list from the Department of International Relations and Cooperation. At this stage, 132 of them have expressed the desire to be repatriated.”

The president said government was in touch with their families and that necessary arrangements to have them flown back have been made.

“None of the affected individuals has been diagnosed with the virus nor have they exhibited any symptoms thereof. Upon arrival in South Africa, they will be placed in quarantine for 21 days as an additional precautionary measure.”

The World Health Organisation declared the virus a global public health emergency last month and has now warned the international community to brace itself for a pandemic.

WATCH: 'It's a ghost town': A day in the life of a South African in Wuhan

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