Some South Africans on social media have expressed opposition to the government’s decision to quarantine the South Africans returning from China, which has been hit hard by the coronavirus pandemic, in Limpopo.
Health Minister Dr Zweli Mkhize announced on Thursday that the returnees will be quarantined at the Ranch Resort in Polokwane.
They are expected back in the country today (Friday). The government has emphasised that they are not infected and that their 14-21 day quarantine is a precautionary measure.
‘Limpopo is not a dumping site’
However, this has not assuaged the fears of some Limpopo residents, who expressed their opposition on Twitter via the #LimpopoIsNotADumpingSite hashtag.
Many of them suggested alternative sites such as Northern Cape’s whites-only town of Orania and even Robben Island prison in the Western Cape.
Twitter user @hnrlisha wrote, “They must go to Orania for quarantine.. Why Limpopo though? Miss SA didn’t even come to Limpopo; rugby champs didn’t even come to Limpopo. Why [does] the government only think of Limpopo when it suits them?”
African Transformation Movement (ATM) leader Vuyo Zungula joined the debate and tweeted, “I thought the quarantine centres in SA are Orania and Kleinfontein.”
‘Ignorance is scary’
However, other social media users pointed out that the returnees are not infected and will be kept in strict quarantine anyway.
“The ignorance is scary… Unless people go to the secluded hotel and touch the people, how do they think they will contract the virus?” @MorphiusM wondered.
In a Facebook post, former Gauteng Premier Mbhazima Shilowa also argued, “The people who are being repatriated from China have not tested positive for the virus. They will be tested again on the day of departure by both the Chinese immigration and our doctors who are with the crew.
“If they test positive, they will remain in China and be taken to a hospital there. There will also be periodic tests throughout the journey. The plane is reconfigured such that they will be able to quarantine anyone who while on the plane show signs of infection. That person will on arrival be taken to hospital.”
Shilowa added, “Same with anyone who will test positive on arrival. Only those who are not infected will be taken to a facility for quarantine for not less than 14 days. This is a precaution in case they were still at a stage where it can not be picked up.
“Should anyone show signs of the virus while at the facility they will immediately be taken to hospital. Testing is likely to be done in their respective rooms by doctors and are less likely to be in contact with staff once identified as such.”
Health Minister Dr Mkhize also said on Thursday that no authorised persons will be allowed into the quarantine centre, which is now guarded by the South African National Defence Force.