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South Africans say China is discriminating against Africans over COVID-19

South Africans have told EWN they have no idea why they were isolated from their neighbours after testing negative for COVID-19.

FILE: People gather on a street in the "Little Africa" district in Guangzhou, the capital of southern China's Guangdong province on 2 March 2018. Picture: AFP

JOHANNESBURG - South Africans living in Guangdong and Guangzhou in China have detailed to Eyewitness News how they have been humiliated and discriminated against while being forced into quarantine for 14 days at a hotel despite testing negative for COVID-19 with no explanation.

They complained of discrimination, saying they were isolating Africans and placing them in quarantine amid the COVID-19 outbreak on the African continent.

On Friday, Laurike Wilkens, a Johannesburg resident who works as a teacher in Foshan in the Guangdong province, was put into mandatory quarantine with no explanation as to why.

“Six men showed up at my house, telling me I have to go into quarantine and I only have an hour to pack my bags,” she told EWN on Tuesday.

“A bus came and fetched me. No one helped.” She was taken to a hotel.

Wilkens said she asked the authorities and hotel staff numerous times why she was being placed in quarantine but was still waiting for answers.

"I have been asked to provide details of when I arrived in the country - a copy of my passport and visa."

Meanwhile, a Free State mother from Harrismith – who wanted to remain anonymous – also told EWN she was forced by the Chinese government to do a COVID-19 test at a local hospital at a specific time. She also doesn’t know why she has been flagged by authorities there.

“When I arrived there, I realised we were only Africans there,” she said.

"I have not been back home in the last three years. I asked why only Africans are being detained and they say they don’t know.”

She is now in quarantine with her one-year-old son and husband in a small hotel room and has been informed they would have to undergo a number of further tests over the 14-day period. They were also picked up by a bus.

China is in the process of fully eradicating the COVID-19 pandemic after 83,306 recorded infections and 3,345 deaths after the virus originated in Wuhan. South Africa has 2,415 infections and 27 deaths.

South Africans there have to take their temperature twice a day and report back to the authorities with the results. They are apparently only allowed to open their room door three times a day - when they receive food.

The Chinese embassy in South Africa told EWN on Tuesday it noted and paid “high attention” to these claims.

The embassy said miscommunication between the authorities might have contributed to mixed messages, but insisted all South Africans were treated with the same rights as locals.

Many South Africans have indicated that they would want to be repatriated home if the opportunity arose.