South Africa finally evacuated 114 of its citizens from Wuhan, the epicenter of the global COVID-19 pandemic, on Saturday, March 14, following weeks of uncertainty for the mostly young South Africans stranded under a lockdown of the city and other cities in the province of Hubei in China. Early tests have indicated that no one in the group has contracted the virus, but health officials have placed them in a twenty-one-day quarantine at a resort in a rural area in Limpopo province.
Why It Matters
South Africa’s decision to repatriate its citizens stranded overseas amid the global pandemic is not just good news for those affected, it also shows the government takes seriously its responsibility to support its citizens abroad. All practicable measures were taken to minimize the risks associated with transporting potential viral hosts, especially given they were traveling from the site of the first known infections. China is South Africa’s largest trading partner, and maintaining good relations between the two countries during the pandemic is vital for economic reconstruction efforts once the worst of it has passed.