Coronavirus: SANDF denies reports soldiers refuse to travel to Wuhan

More than a 180 South Africans in the Chinese city have indicated that they want to come home due to the outbreak that has claimed more than 3,000 lives globally.

Picture: EWN.

JOHANNESBURG - The South African National Defence Force (SANDF) on Friday strongly denied reports that soldiers are not willing to go to Wuhan, China, to evacuate citizens - calling it "ludicrous".

More than 180 South Africans in the Chinese city have indicated that they want to come home due to the Coronavirus outbreak that has claimed more than 3,000 lives globally.

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South Africa confirmed its first COVID-19 case on Thursday; a 38-year-old KwaZulu-Natal man who travelled from Italy.

The Mail & Guardian reported on Friday that SANDF members didn’t want to risk their own lives by travelling to the epicentre of the coronavirus. But, SANDF spokesperson Siphiwe Dlamini said this couldn’t be further from the truth.

Dlamini said soldiers were trained for these kinds of missions where there was a high risk.

“We are trained for any eventuality including losing our lives, and that’s our business and responsibility. We have given the state our lives so that they can use us in any way that they would like to,” he said.

Government secured the aircraft to bring the citizens home but said it was still negotiating with other service providers for a quarantine area.