students Russia Mpumalanga Department of Education

Minister of International Relations and Cooperation (DIRCO), Naledi Pandor / Image: GCIS

South Africa repatriates 300 citizens from coronavirus-hit US

Government says its working to repatriate more South Africans from the COVID-19 hotspot.

students Russia Mpumalanga Department of Education

Minister of International Relations and Cooperation (DIRCO), Naledi Pandor / Image: GCIS

The increasing spread of the COVID-19 pandemic has seen many South Africans scrambling to return home from abroad and, earlier in the week, government announced that it has repatriated 300 from the novel virus’ new epicentre, the United States.

Over two million worldwide have been infected with the coronavirus, prompting a lot of countries to limit flights coming in and out of their borders.

South Africans return home from the US

The United States is the heaviest-hit country in the world in terms of COVID-19 cases, accounting for over 700 000 of known infections and a death toll sitting north of 35 000.

On Wednesday, South African citizens in Miami, Florida, returned home and government is making plans to return more from other states.

According to the Department of International Relations, a total of 3 639 South Africans are known to be stuck abroad.

In a statement issued out by the department, International Relations Minister Naledi Pandor says 600 citizens have been brought home.

“To date, we are pleased that over 600 South Africans have returned home. In line with the regulations, they are under quarantine in various sites.”

Government’s repatriation efforts 

Other South Africans to be repatriated from countries abroad come from Brazil, Germany and Canada.

Some of the returnees made use of South African Airways flights chartered by the respective states, while others made personal bookings, with some aided by private companies.

Below is how the repatriation efforts have gone so far;

  • 8 April, 66 South Africans were repatriated from Brazil on a South African Airways Flight.
  • On the same day, SAA flew 54 of our compatriots from Germany. 39 were from Germany; 14 from Portugal; 10 from Ireland; 3 from Nepal; 1 from Italy;
  • On 12 April, a South African Airways flight from Brussels, to Johannesburg with a stop-over in Lagos repatriated 119 South Africans.
  •  On the same day, another SAA flight from London to Cape Town repatriated 201 South Africans.
  •  On 13 April, a South African Airways flight from Ghana to Johannesburg repatriated 62 of our nationals.

Repatriation on private chartered flights by individuals and companies

  • On 10 April, 4 South Africans arrived from Afghanistan.
  • On the same day, 49 more South Africans landed in Cape Town from Namibia.
  • On 11 April, 41 South Africans were repatriated from the Maldives.

Elsewhere, some South African citizens are still stranded in South American and Asia.

Close to 400 are stranded in Thailand and Indonesia, and government is making efforts to return them home.

More were stranded in Pakistan, and are set to return as soon as the country’s government grants approval for flights to leave the country.

“We are aware of the 34 South Africans stranded in Lima,” the statement says. “Through our Ambassador in Peru, we are in regular contact with the group and all efforts are being made to try to get them back home.”