Limpopo resort identified as quarantine site for South Africans returning from China

12 March 2020 - 18:02 By Peter Ramothwala and Kgothatso Madisa
Health minister Zweli Mkhize is running the repatriation and isolation of the Chinese contingent with military precision. File photo
Health minister Zweli Mkhize is running the repatriation and isolation of the Chinese contingent with military precision. File photo
Image: Supplied

Security has been beefed up at The Ranch Resort near Polokwane, Limpopo, where a group of South Africans being repatriated from the coronavirus epicentre in Wuhan, China, will be quarantined.

SowetanLIVE reported that the police and the military had taken over the four-star resort, which is about 25km from Polokwane, since about midday on Thursday and have blockaded the main road leading to the venue as they prepare to host about 122 citizens who are expected to land in the country on Friday.

Staff at the hotel have been placed on leave for the next 21 days while patrons who were booked in at the hotel were asked to vacate it on Thursday morning.

“We were told that if we fail to come today [to fetch belongings], we will have to come back after 21 days. I can’t stay here for those days, I have children to look after,” one staff member said on Thursday.

Cape Town International Airport began installing banners and hand sanitisers in its international terminal on March 12 2020, attempting to prevent any potential spread of the coronavirus in SA. Some South Africans believe the virus is being taken too seriously, while others think it could cause chaos.

The number of people who have tested positive for coronavirus in SA increased to 17 on Thursday.

Health minister Zweli Mkhize will on Thursday evening officially announce that the resort has been picked as the quarantine centre.

This comes after initial negotiations with a resort in the Free State collapsed last week.

Mkhize has been holding meetings with the ANC in Limpopo along with the party’s national deputy secretary-general Jessie Duarte since early Thursday morning.

The meetings were held to allay any fears regarding the patients being quarantined in the province.

The ANC Youth League in the province said it was worried about the decision and had planned to hold a protest around the area.

“Our bone of contention as the ANCYL in Peter Mokaba is that the first site which was identified is the Free State, and now that the Free State has reneged, Limpopo province was seen to be a low-hanging fruit to play host to the patients,” its statement read.

“While acknowledging the work done by govt [government] of educating the people of SA about coronavirus, we are worried about the socioeconomic conditions that the majority of our people find themselves in.

“For example, if one of the employees were to contract the virus, they would transmit it to the multitudes of people that they interact with in the public transport, their homes and other places where black people socialise,” it added.