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By News24 Wire

Wire Service


Public works dept ready to welcome repatriates landing from Doha

The department said it would continue procuring and getting quarantine sites ready, in the event that flights start landing unannounced.


The department of public works says it is ready to receive repatriates flying in from Doha’s Hamad International Airport on Wednesday evening.

More than 200 South African citizens had been left stranded in Qatar on Tuesday after the aircraft had to turn around on the runway, which resulted in them sleeping at the airport before departing on Wednesday morning.

But to avoid Monday night’s situation, where hundreds were stuck on the tarmac at OR Tambo International Airport in Johannesburg after landing from Washington DC, Minister of Public Works Patricia de Lille’s spokesperson Zara Nicholson said it would not be the case for the group expected to land on Wednesday evening.

“We were notified about that flight on Monday, and were initially told it was coming on Tuesday, which it didn’t. In any event, we carried on procuring the site, it was ready as of yesterday. And will be ready for the repatriates tonight (Wednesday),” the spokesperson said.

Nicholson said the department experienced difficulties because it was informed late about arrivals of flights, and this slows down its procurement processes. She said an agreement was in place that the department would be given a 72-hour notice about the arrival of repatriation flights.

“That’s the reason why that situation happened on Monday because we were not given the agreed notice in time. But the department then had those sites ready, and late on Monday people were taken.

“Again now, with the Qatar flight, we were notified on Monday, which is not 72 hours in advance, but we did the procurement. Just the fact that it’s not within 72 hours puts the department in a difficult position, but it was done, so we are ready for that Qatar flight tonight (Wednesday).”

Nicholson said the department was now getting ready because many flights, regardless of changes, were coming from all parts of the world.

Sites

The department said it would continue procuring and getting sites ready, in the event that flights start landing unannounced.

While some have blamed the problems on the government not having enough quarantine sites procured for repatriates, Nicholson said it was not the case. She said the department was procuring as many sites as possible, to accommodate people who needed to be quarantined when they arrive in the country.

Outlining the national number of quarantine sites to date, Nicholson said there were 1,418 sites which had been identified as proposed sites, representing more than 109,000 beds across the country.

She said once sites were proposed, they were assessed by the department of health, which then decides whether it meets the criteria for a quarantine site.

Nicholson added that, to date, 328 sites had been assessed and deemed compliant, representing 24,884 beds. Of these, 114 facilities had been activated, representing 11,685 beds available for quarantine requirements.

Of the sites, 636 are state-owned and 782 are privately-owned.

“To date, a total of 5,443 infected individuals have been quarantined. Some of the 5,443 quarantined in recent weeks have been discharged as they were cleared after the 14-day incubation period.”

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