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South African Indians concerned about family members in Wuhan

PTI | Johannesburg | Updated: 08-02-2020 05:30 IST | Created: 08-02-2020 05:30 IST
South African Indians concerned about family members in Wuhan

Several South African Indian-origin teachers who sought lucrative opportunities in Wuhan in China are now too scared to leave their homes amid the coronavirus epidemic. Family members who have been in contact with some of the teachers shared the concerns that they have, but almost all declined to be named or to identify their family members in Wuhan in central China's Hubei province for fear of reprisals.

A number of South African Indians, especially English teachers, have taken up jobs in China in recent years because they can earn up to five times the salaries that they do at home. The exact number is unknown. "My cousin is now in quarantine after she defied a lockdown to go and stock up on groceries because she had no food in her apartment," said a woman from Durban.

"She told us how scared she was after she learnt that one of her friends had been stopped by authorities for insisting on going to her school to recover materials to continue teaching children from home," the woman said. Mohanlal Patel from Johannesburg said he had a family member who was teaching in a city that was seven-hour drive away from Wuhan.

"But he is too scared to even come out of the house he is living in as he watches everyone walking around with face masks," Patel said. "He is desperately trying to get a flight home, but says it has become very difficult." Another South African Indian said his daughter was teaching at private classes run by a multinational company.

"She was crying on the phone as she has just been there for two months now and has to go through this. She said food has become ridiculously expensive and even face masks are only available at premium prices," her father said. "We are trying to find some way of getting her back home as soon as possible, even if she has to be quarantined here for two weeks or more," he added.

The concerns come at a time South African Minister of Health Zweli Mkhize announced the country's plans for addressing the virus, which included involving military personnel. Mkhize said the administration would intensify screening at all ports of entry with a particular focus on the major airports of entry.

"This approach remains supported as the vast majority of cases are introduced into territories outside of China by air travellers," Mkhize said. "We have deployed additional staff and asked for the assistance of medical staff from the National Defence Force to beef up screening where additional capacity was needed." Mkhize said there was still no recommendation to restrict travel or trade with China.

"We have not put any restriction on travel or trade between China and South Africa although we do continue to advise that non-essential travel should be delayed until the situation abates," the minister added. PTI FH HMB

(This story has not been edited by Devdiscourse staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)

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