As Free State students in Wuhan, China, the epicentre of the Covid-19 outbreak, received the news that a plane from South Africa would depart at 9pm on Tuesday night from OR Tambo Airport in Johannesburg, they responded in true South African fashion: All wanted to go outside to sing and dance, despite the freezing temperature.
"I feel like I can stand outside and sing. I don't really have words to describe the sense of relief. I am just so happy," one of the students who had been in lockdown at Wuhan University since January said.
She was speaking to Daily Maverick just before 1am on a freezing winter morning in the dorm where she had been in lockdown since the middle of January.
Back home in the Free State, the student's mother was overwhelmed by the news.
"I am so happy. I can't wait for her to come home," she said.
"Go with speed, with God and bring our children back," President Cyril Ramaphosa said in his send-off message to the evacuation plane's crew at OR Tambo.
South African government notices given to students said they will be screened for Covid-19 before boarding the plane and will not be allowed...