Department of Health spokeswoman Lwazi Manzi says South Africa has only become aware that 12 South Africans were working on the Diamond Princess cruise ship when the virus broke out on the ship.
This ship has been in the Yokohama since 3 February, after one of the passengers who had already left the ship tested positive for the virus on February 1. At least 3 700 passengers aboard the ship were immediately put in isolation and tests were carried out on all the people on board.
More than 705 people on the ship eventually tested positive for the virus, with four people already dead.
“The South African government was made aware by the Japanese authorities through its embassy in Japan that 12 South African crew members were working aboard the Diamond Princess ship when it was hit by Covid-19. We were informed by the authorities in Japan on February 25 that two of the South Africans tested positive for Covid-19. They are currently receiving treatment in Japan and according to the latest reports, they show no symptoms. ”
Manzi says South Africa was only notified at the end of the isolation period, on February 19, that there were South Africans aboard the Diamond Princess.
She says at this stage the South Africans in Japan will receive treatment until they have fully recovered and are no longer contagious before traveling further.
“The other ten will be allowed to leave the ship on assignment from their employer if they test negative. They may then be subject to a further 14-day isolation period in Japan and further tests to determine if they will be allowed to continue traveling. ”
Manzi says South Africa will monitor the situation and stay in touch with the Japanese government to keep the public informed.