Defence force staff 'unwilling' to man plane destined to fetch South Africans from China

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Compton_effect

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Coronavirus: Defence force staff 'unwilling' to man plane destined to fetch South Africans from China

2020-03-06 08:06
An aircraft has been secured for the repatriation of 184 South African citizens from Wuhan, China, amid the global outbreak of the Covid-19 virus, but South African National Defence Force (SANDF) crew members are refusing to make the potentially dangerous journey.

On Friday, Mail & Guardian (M&G) reported that a senior official intimately familiar with the discussions said defence force personnel were unwilling to man the aircraft.

The plane is set to bring back the group of South Africans - they include teachers and other professionals currently working in Wuhan - the city from which the deadly virus originates, News24 reported.

Health Minister Dr Zweli Mkhize said at a briefing on Sunday the operation would be conducted over a period of seven to 10 days.


But, according to M&G, these plans have now allegedly been hamstrung by reluctant defence force personnel.

Fear the risk

"We do have an aircraft ready to go. But there are no warm bodies who want to go to China, as they fear the risk," the senior official reportedly said.

According to the source, no one can be forced if they don't want to go. The delay has reportedly been caused by the military, which has advised against the evacuation.

SANDF spokesperson Siphiwe Dlamini told M&G that he is not aware of the situation and that everything is in place as has been planned.

In a statement issued on Thursday, Government Communication and Information System (GCIS) said: "The aircraft with the capacity to bring back the citizens in Wuhan has been secured. An interdisciplinary team of relevant departments including Health, Home Affairs, Social Development and the Defence Force will form part of the repatriation team from China to South Africa. They will be working with the Chinese authorities to screen the group of South Africans before they depart the epicentre of Wuhan.

"With the support of the South African Embassy in China, a ground transport plan is being put in place to ensure that all citizens who are to be evacuated are safely brought to a central collection point from where they will be transported home.

Negotiations not concluded

"Negotiations with a number of service providers to serve as a quarantine area have not yet been concluded. At this stage, the technical team is working hard to finalise this critical area of work and there is no specific venue that has been confirmed. We can, however, reassure that this work will be concluded in the not so distant future."

In his Sunday briefing, Mkhize clarified that the citizens returning from Wuhan had not tested positive for Covid-19 and that they will be quarantined for a further 21-day period upon their arrival.

South Africa reported its first case of Covid-19 in KwaZulu-Natal on Thursday.

In a statement, Mkhize said the National Institute for Communicable Diseases (NICD) confirmed a positive test of a 38-year-old man who travelled to Italy as part of a group of 10 people.

They returned to South Africa on 1 March.

The man tested positive on 3 March and has been in self-isolation since. News24 understands his doctor and his family are also in quarantine.


A tracer team has since been deployed to KwaZulu-Natal with epidemiologists and clinicians from the NICD.

Worldwide, nearly 100 000 people have been infected with SARS-CoV-2 and almost 3 400 deaths have been reported, according to the World Health Organisation.

- Compiled by Riaan Grobler


https://www.news24.com/SouthAfrica/News/coronavirus-defence-force-staff-unwilling-to-man-plane-destined-to-fetch-south-africans-from-china-20200306
 

Compton_effect

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Can you blame them?
And really - almost every single case worldwide seems to start with someone who has returned from Italy.
Maybe its time to consider the benefits of a lock-down for the country.
It would hurt economically - but probably not as bad as a full on epidemic.
 

supersunbird

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Can you blame them?
And really - almost every single case worldwide seems to start with someone who has returned from Italy.
Maybe its time to consider the benefits of a lock-down for the country.
It would hurt economically - but probably not as bad as a full on epidemic.
Yes (except if the government does not want to supply proper gear, maybe like hazmat type suits). Even then, quarantine for 2 or 3 weeks won't kill you and the virus is generally not that serious for fit and healthy individuals, I'd be first to volunteer if I was in that scenario, but I am not in the SANDF or even the reserve (do we have one?).
 
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HunterNW

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“We do have an aircraft that is ready to go. There are no warm bodies that want to go to China, as they fear the risk,” the senior official said.
They added that: “Honestly, no one can force them to go there if they don’t want to. For real, no one expected things to go as smoothly as the government had thought.”
The delay has apparently been caused by the military, which had advised against the evacuation.
“If you go against the military, they can frustrate you. That’s the latest. So maybe that’s why everyone has not been coming to the front about what the plan really is and when it will be implemented.”
SANDF spokesperson Siphiwe Dlamini did not deny or confirm this, saying: “I do not have any knowledge of the non-availability of a crew for this mission. As far as I know everything is in place as has been planned.”
These fcks have no clue of what's happening in their own department. @thechamp what's your opinion ?
 

Pitbull

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Can you blame them?
And really - almost every single case worldwide seems to start with someone who has returned from Italy.
Maybe its time to consider the benefits of a lock-down for the country.
It would hurt economically - but probably not as bad as a full on epidemic.
Not really the issue.

Since when does Soldiers have a choice? Soldiers do as they are ordered, or at least that is how it works in Armies with discipline
 

Pegasus

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On the plus side its great that we have an actual aircraft that can do this as well as an actual aircrew.

I'm just wondering what the aircrew have been doing to remain current if they have no regular aircraft.
 
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dualmeister

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**** me. Back in the day young SANDF soldiers were sent off to die on the border.
Now they are refusing to go in case they get the flu. Typical of the current SANDF. It's a holiday until you actually have to do something constructive. Lock them up!
 

Nqindi

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**** me. Back in the day young SANDF soldiers were sent off to die on the border.
Now they are refusing to go in case they get the flu. Typical of the current SANDF. It's a holiday until you actually have to do something constructive. Lock them up!
How you think that this is something admirable I don't know. In any case, I think the people stuck in China are already infected. What good is it good to do to bring them back to SA?
 

Fulcrum29

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I am quite sure the military will prepare those on retrieval duty. The plane is likely to have a quarantine cage, and everyone will be geared accordingly. All they need to do is land, have their designated package boarded and that should be it. I doubt they will even interact with the package.
 
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