South Africa has joined a list of countries evacuating its citizens from Wuhan, China – the coronavirus epicentre – even as Kenya sits tight on the matter.
The Uhuru Kenyatta-led government announced in February that they will not evacuate at least 91 Kenyan students from Wuhan where the diseases is believed to have originated.
Foreign Affairs Principal Secretary Macharia Kamau told a press conference that the students are "safe where they are" since China was ensuring their safety.
"China is doing a great job protecting our students where they are. All [the students] are taken care of and well. We admire what China has been able to do. However, we are preparing for all contingencies," PS Macharia said.
Last month while in Washington DC, President Uhuru Kenyatta promised to evacuate Kenyans from Wuhan but the government has not yet executed any evacuation plans.
Over 4,000 people have died from the virus since its outbreak late last year. 119,292 cases of the infections have been confirmed globally.
Bring them home
On Tuesday night, a plane left OR Tambo International Airport in South Africa and headed to Wuhan to repatriate 122 South Africans stranded there since the outbreak of coronavirus.
"Go with speed, with God and bring our children back home… Thank you very much for having taken on this mission," President Cyril Ramaphosa said ahead of the departure.
Onboard the flight, are the crew from the aircraft company and a total of 15 officials from South Africa’s Department of Health and the Department of Defence-Military Health.
The flight will stopover in the Philippines on Wednesday to refuel before proceeding to China’s Wuhan, the epicentre of Covid-19 virus.
"After stop-over in the Philippines, the aircraft will fly to Wuhan City. Upon arrival, the team will work with our Chinese counterparts but also the staff of our Embassy in China, screening our repatriates and checking required travel documents," the team tasked with repatriation said in a statement.
The plane is expected to jet back in the country on Friday.
President Ramaphosa said the mission will cost R25 million ($1.6million). He ordered the repatriation last month.
Authorities said none of the people being repatriated had shown any signs of coronavirus infection, but they will all be quarantined for 21 days.
South Africa has so far confirmed seven cases of Covid-19 infections in the country.
Countries around the world started to evacuate their diplomatic staff and private citizens from China in January.
Some of the countries include; New Zealand, Australian, Canada, United States, Taiwan, Nepal, Philippines, Brazil, Italy, Saudi Arabia, Indonesia, South Korea, Japan, Spain, Russia, France, Britain, Swiss, South Korea and Taiwan.