South Africa

Coronavirus Update

Confirmed Covid-19 cases in SA now at seven — all from the Italy group

Confirmed Covid-19 cases in SA now at seven — all from the Italy group

The number of people in South Africa who have tested positive for Covid-19, the disease caused by coronavirus, has now grown from three confirmed cases to seven and are part of the group of 10 people that had recently travelled to Italy. The latest group of four are from KwaZulu-Natal and between the ages of 38 and 45 years old.

An inter-ministerial committee made up of the departments of Health, International Relations and Co-operation, Co-operative Governance and Traditional Affairs, Rural Development, Agriculture and Land Reform, Tourism, State Security and Home Affairs. The team led by Minister of Health Dr Zweli Mkhize forms part of a high-level security cluster task force that is designated to deal with Covid-19.

 Mkhize, in a briefing in Tshwane today, announced that there had now been four more identified people who had tested positive and they were part of the group of 10 who had travelled to Italy on holiday. Of the four, one was a 38-year-old couple from Mgungundlovu, a 38-year-old man and 45-year-old man, both from Pietermaritzburg. All have been placed under quarantine in their homes. The minister said tracer teams were making contact with each of the seven identified people’s circles of contact in order to test them.

 On the question of the Gauteng Grayston Primary School teacher identified to have been in contact with the Italy group, Dr Natalie Mayet from the National Institute for Communicable Diseases was emphatic that their list of confirmed Covid-19 cases did not include any teachers and that they were in contact with the teacher in question. She also went on to assure South Africans that they were benchmarking  their response based on the 2016 WHO pandemic response plan, which has since been updated.

Mkhize explained that the identified source of the virus in South Africa has so far been isolated as being only from the group who had travelled to Italy.

On the issue of whether major international events such as conferences and sporting events would still be allowed to proceed, Mkhize said this was to be tabled at Cabinet level and as soon as a decision was reached, it would be communicated. The inter-ministerial team emphasised that all ports of entry in South Africa (land, sea and air) had screening processes that included thermal screening, in-flight screening and questionnaires.

 The minister urged the public not to be “anxious” and begin panic-buying items such as hand sanitiser. He said this was unnecessary and that soap and water did exactly the same job as hand sanitisers. The team was at pains to emphasise that South Africans should remain calm and that the task team was dealing methodically and conscientiously with the issue. DM


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