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‘Unless we’re disciplined, coronavirus will consume us’

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Ramaphosa welcomes more than 100 South African students

PRESIDENT Cyril Ramaphosa on Sunday heartily welcomed the more than 100 South African students who were evacuated from China as they concluded a 14-day mandatory quarantine at the Ranch Resort in Limpopo province. 

“You were able to beat coronavirus in China because you were under lockdown. Now you are going into another lockdown because this is the most dangerous virus. Unless we are disciplined like you have been, we will be consumed by this virus,” Ramaphosa spoke to the cheerful students. 

“Many of our people in South Africa are abiding by the lockdown regulations, but there are still some pockets here and there who are still carrying on as though the virus does not exist. Go and spread the word, and tell our compatriots that yes, coronavirus is a reality and we must look after ourselves.” 

Ramaphosa urged the students, who will be reunited with their families to continue upholding good health practices and social distancing. 

“I send you off back to your families, back to your communities, knowing that you are coronavirus free. You do not have coronavirus, and we are happy about that,” said Ramaphosa. 

“Welcome back home, we embrace you. Thank you for coming back home.” 

The president said out of concern, the Chinese authorities were reluctant to release the South African students from the coronavirus epicenter, assuring the Pretoria authorities that all the students would be taken good care of in Wuhan. 

“We decided as the lockdown in Wuhan was taking effect. We spoke to the Chinese government, and they were concerned, saying let them stay here we are looking after them. We insisted that you should be brought home,” said Ramaphosa.

The president on Sunday declared the Ranch Resort in Limpopo, which accommodated quarantined South African students, and the government crew which went to the Chinese city of Wuhan to evacuate them, a green zone free of coronavirus (Covid-19). 

“We are now able to declare the Ranch a green zone, it has been a red zone all along as we had put the students, the cabin crew of the flight that brought them, as well as the military medical officers in quarantine together with the staff that works here. This place was declared a red zone, and now we have gone past the 14 days of quarantine and everybody who is in this facility has been tested and found to be negative of coronavirus,” said Ramaphosa at the Polokwane resort. 

“[Health Minister Zweli] Dr Mkhize has said this is now a green zone, in that nobody in this facility has contracted coronavirus. We took good precautions to put our students, the crew and everybody else from China under quarantine to make sure no coronavirus was brought to South Africa from China.” 

The group of South Africans was placed under quarantine at the resort from March 14 after they were repatriated from Wuhan in the Hubei Province of the People’s Republic of China following the outbreak of the Covid-19. 

After the Limpopo engagement, the Presidency said Ramaphosa will return to Pretoria to chair a virtual meeting of the National Command Council that coordinates the national emergency response on Covid-19.