South African passengers and crew that have been released from the Coronavirus-infected Diamond Princess cruise ship in Japan will be quarantined by the army, the Department of Health has announced.
There are 12 South African passengers and crew that have been released from the ship thus far, with a further 151 South Africans that have been evacuated from Wuhan, China, where more than 80,000 people have been infected and more than 3,000 have died.
Two of the South Africans aboard Diamond Princess tested positive for Coronavirus, while all others were negative. However, the virus can be contagious in people without any symptoms for up to two weeks.
Therefore, everyone being repatriated to South Africa will be quarantined for 21 days in a secure location, according to Health Minister Zweli Mkhize. The minister added that the two South Africans with Coronavirus are recovering and receiving treatment.
“We have been assured that they are recovering. When they test negative, they will be free to return, except those going through quarantine,” Mkhize said at a press conference.
“We are in constant contact with our embassy in Japan and the Diamond Princess [docked] off the coast of Yokohama. Thereafter they will return without restrictions,” Mkhize added.
Mkhize said strict quarantine protocols would be adhered to for all quarantined South Africans and no one will be allowed into the arrival sites or quarantine areas, including family members.
No one will be allowed to interact with the quarantined evacuees and cruise ship passengers. Mkhize added that the army would be deployed to secure the quarantine sites.
The approach taken by the South African government follows that adopted by other countries with passengers aboard Diamond Princess, and in mainland China during the outbreak, which quickly turned into an epidemic.
Many countries, including the United States and UK have set up quarantine sites for returning citizens.
Diamond Princess was placed under quarantine by the Japanese government in late January when one of her passengers was found to have Coronavirus. Further tests of passengers and crew found more than 700 additional cases of the virus on-board.
The governments of passengers and crews’ home countries have been evacuating them over the last two weeks. On Sunday, the ship’s master, Captain Gennaro Arma, who had vowed to stay on board until everyone else had left, was the final person to disembark.
Categories: SA Cruise News