Coronavirus: Day 9 in isolation for Durban woman in Wuhan

Coronavirus: Day 9 in isolation for Durban woman in Wuhan

With global concern growing over the spread of the coronavirus, a Durban woman living in the Chinese city at the centre of the outbreak says they are fighting to be repatriated.

Jocelyn Potgieter China

The virus has claimed the lives of 213 people so far. Around 10 000 people in China are infected, and at least 18 other countries have confirmed cases.

READ: Durban woman in Wuhan coronavirus lockdown speaks out

The International Relations Department says it's set up a 24-hour hotline for South Africans based in Wuhan and has provided contact details on its social media platforms. 

Jocelyn Potgieter who lives in Wuhan says up until now there wasn't any communication.

She says she and others in the same situation had been flooding the department's inbox with emails, with the hope some action would be taken.


She says people, desperate for food, have been stepping out of their homes braving the wintry weather to stock up on supplies like face masks.

But Potgieter says it's a very scary situation. 

ALSO READ: WHO declares global virus emergency as death toll hits 213

"We are coming out of Winter into Spring, so people are trying to brave the outdoors and when they are doing that they are still rushing to get what they need and leaving very quickly.

"I popped to the store earlier just purely because I was running out of food and needed more masks and I walked down one of the aisles and the person standing in the aisle rushed away just out of fear of contracting any virus," she says.  

A UKZN virologist says China's move to quarantine millions of people in Wuhan and Hubei province was the only option to curb the spread of the coronavirus.  

The World Health Organisation's declared an international public health emergency as the death toll climbed. 

Professor Thumbi Ndung'u whose work includes studies into viral strains says China had no choice but place more than a dozen cities on lockdown. 

"To control the disease is to lockdown that particular city. In other words to prevent people from getting out so that they don't go and infect others and also to prevent people from coming in so that people don't get infected and then spread the virus," he says. 

The Health Department says hospitals are prepared to treat any cases linked to the virus.

NOW READ: Health Dept says reports of coronavirus in SA is fake news

Ndung'u explains how they plan on doing this. 

"They will take samples from a person who is expected to have the infection and to confirm whether it is, in fact, the coronavirus or some other infection."

"I think the South African government would be ready to diagnose it, to screen for it and put people under quarantine and treat them given that there is no vaccine at the moment," he says. 

Wuhan is where authorities have identified a market selling wild animals for food as the epicentre of the outbreak. 

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