The South Africans evacuated from Wuhan — the coronavirus global epicenter — have arrived back in the country after a 14-hour flight.
SAA flight ZS-SND touched down at Polokwane International Airport on Saturday morning.
The Airbus A340-600, which was part of a military-led evacuation of the South Africans from the Chinese city, was immediately approached by biohazard specialists in white hazmat suits who could be seen carefully inspecting the aircraft. Ground crew and cargo handling staff were also kitted out in special masks and equipment.
It was originally thought that 121 South Africans were evacuated but TimesLIVE has been informed that 146 are on-board.
The South Africans will be taken to The Ranch Resort 25km outside Polokwane where they will be quarantined for 21 days.
Buses that will transport the South Africans to the quarantine site, were lined up near the SAA aircraft, while soldiers stood guard around them.
The passengers disembarked after undergoing medical examinations aboard the aircraft. Several waved towards the arrivals section and viewing deck where scores of journalists were gathered.
Most were carrying a few belongings after Chinese authorities enforced strict cargo hold conditions before they left Wuhan airport. While queuing on the tarmac as they waited to board the buses, health officials examined several of them and their bags before they boarded the buses.