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Chinese Embassy lends a hand in evacuating SA citizens in Wuhan

President Cyril Ramaphosa has ordered the evacuation of South Africans amid concerns from their families.

People wearing protective facemasks, amid fears of the spread of the COVID-19 novel coronavirus, walk on a street in Wuhan in China's central Hubei province on 27 February 2020. Picture: AFP.

JOHANNESBURG - The Chinese Embassy in South Africa said it was understandable why President Cyril Ramaphosa ordered for South Africans living and stranded in Wuhan to be repatriated to address their anxiety and concerns.

Citizens and foreigners have been in lockdown in China for more than a month, with many governments sending planes to evacuate their citizens amid fear of the coronavirus outbreak.

On Thursday, South Africa finally made a decision to arrange for the over 130 South Africans who wanted to return home to do so.

The Chinese Embassy in Pretoria has offered to help government with the repatriation process of citizens in Wuhan.

The embassy said it hoped South Africa would take effective measures to prevent the virus from entering and spreading into the country.

A South African working in Wuhan, Joss Potgieter, said she was pleased with government's decision to repatriate those who wanted to go home.

“I’m still currently employed here and for now what we’ve requested is some further information on the quarantine process, what will it look like and will we still have connectivity and things like that? I haven’t made a final decision [about coming home yet].”

The embassy said out of the more than 3,000 South African students and other citizens in China, none have tested positive for the virus.

DEPT READY

The Department of Health said it had plans in place for South Africans returning to the country from the Chinese city of Wuhan as the coronavirus continued to spread.

The department’s Anban Pillay said they were in constant contact with their Chinese counterparts.

“As soon as they get to South Africa, they will be subjected to a quarantine period and once that is over, which is 21 days as we anticipate, they will be reunited with their families if they test negative.”

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

Meanwhile, some Uber drivers in the United States said they were anxious about the coronavirus outbreak.

They said they were avoiding picking up passengers from airports, cutting down their hours, and cleaning their cars more frequently.

US health officials have warned companies to operate under the assumption that an outbreak could occur in the United States in the near future.

Drivers said they hadn't heard any official communication from Uber about best practices for avoiding transmission or how the company planned to act in the case of an outbreak.

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