Higher Education, Science and Technology Minister, Dr Blade Nzimande, on Saturday encouraged TVET college students, who have come out of quarantine, to become ambassadors of the effectiveness of the COVID-19 lockdown.
“You are the best evangelists of a lockdown because you, above anyone else, have seen that a lockdown does work. I urge you to spread the message to South Africans, [of] what a lockdown can do. Wuhan was able to reduce the level of infections because they had a lockdown,” said the Minister.
The Minister made these comments at a send-off ceremony for 76 Technical and Vocational Education and Training (TVET) college students, who were repatriated from China.
“Today you are leaving for your homes to be reunited with you families after spending several months in China, and the last 14 days in quarantine,” said Nzimande at the ceremony held at Gauteng’s Birchwood Hotel.
The students spent 14 days in quarantine at the hotel, which the Minister subsequently declared as a green zone.
The send-off comes as South Africa marked day 9 of the national 21-day lockdown announced by President Cyril Ramaphosa last month.
The lockdown is aimed at curbing the spread of the Coronavirus (COVID-19).
The Minister said the decision to place all South Africans in quarantine, who have come from outside the borders of the country, is the correct one.
This as the virus continues to wreak havoc around the globe.
As of 3 April, South Africa had 1 505 confirmed cases of COVID-19, with seven deaths, and two deaths still to be confirmed.
Nzimande urged the students to continue to practice social distancing and encourage those they come across of the importance of washing hands.
“Leaving the confines of Birchwood, you are going to go to your respective provinces, and I would like you to maintain the same discipline when you are in your home environments, of social distancing, encourage people to wash their hands and to report to their health facilities any signs of this disease,” he said.
Students still in quarantine
While the 76 were on their way to their respective homes, four more students are yet to complete their quarantine.
“I’m aware that four students will still have to complete their quarantine until Tuesday, as they had arrived later. We would like to assure them that we will continue to provide them with the same level of support,” said Nzimande.
The Minister said government will continue to implement the necessary health interventions, and economic and social measures to contain the spread of the disease and to alleviate its effects on people.
“These are unusual and difficult times for all of us, especially for a country with the limited resources that we have. As a government and a people, we will overcome this.
“What this time has shown is how we could rapidly pull government departments together to work towards a common purpose, such as making this quarantine exercise a coordinated one,” the Minister said.
The majority of the 80 students (including those still in quarantine) are from Gauteng (33), as well as a private student; followed by those from the Free State (13), North West (9), Mpumalanga (7), KwaZulu-Natal (6), Eastern Cape (1) and the Western Cape (1).