Seven confirmed cases of Coronavirus

The num­ber of Coro­n­avirus cas­es in South Africa has risen to sev­en, after four more cas­es were con­firmed on Mon­day.

The Depart­ment of Health has now embarked on a rig­or­ous cam­paign of trac­ing every per­son the sev­en indi­vid­u­als have been in con­tact with since return­ing to South Africa just over a week ago.

Some of the iden­ti­fied patients, the Min­is­ter of Health, Dr Zweli Mkhize, told reporters, had shown symp­toms, while oth­ers had not. How­ev­er, they have all either been placed on self-quar­an­tine at home or have been admit­ted in hos­pi­tal.

All patients, with the excep­tion of two in Gaut­eng, were from Pieter­mar­itzburg, KwaZu­lu-Natal.

The sev­en were part of a group of 10, who recent­ly returned to South Africa from a ski­ing hol­i­day in Milan, north of Italy, where they report­ed­ly con­tract­ed the virus.

“They went as a group of 10 but only nine returned, while the oth­er one trav­elled to the UK. In the process, of those nine, one took ill and showed symp­toms. He was diag­nosed last week,” said Mkhize.

On Sun­day, the Min­is­ter announced that anoth­er mem­ber of the par­ty from Gaut­eng had test­ed pos­i­tive. The third patient is the wife of the first patient.

“We [have indi­cat­ed] that their con­di­tions were healthy. The man, who was the first patient, is healthy, and we have left it to [his] doc­tor as to how the treat­ment will be, because she has indi­cat­ed that the patient no longer has symp­toms,” Mkhize said.

The rest of the group was quar­an­tined soon after the first group mem­ber test­ed pos­i­tive last week.

“Four of them have also now test­ed pos­i­tive. One is a cou­ple in KwaZu­lu-Natal mid­lands – a 38-year-old male and female. They have been put on quar­an­tine and have not yet been admit­ted to hos­pi­tal. The lady had symp­toms but the gen­tle­man did not, but the results have come back pos­i­tive,” said the Min­is­ter.

The third per­son is a 45-year-old male in Pieter­mar­itzburg. Swabs were tak­en and results came back pos­i­tive.

“He also had symp­toms and there­fore was also put on quar­an­tine. He will also have to go for an assess­ment by a doc­tor and get admit­ted at that point,” said Mkhize.

Anoth­er 38-year-old male from Pieter­mar­itzburg, who was also part of the Ital­ian ski­ing par­ty, has also test­ed pos­i­tive.

“We don’t think that there’s an imme­di­ate risk to [their con­tacts] but we will find out when we test them. The fear of home quar­an­tine is not nec­es­sary because it is advice you get giv­en after you’ve been test or [you are] on the list of con­tacts. We are not aware of any­one who was put on home quar­an­tine, then pro­ceed­ed to go gal­li­vant­i­ng,” the Min­is­ter said.

He said the Depart­ment of Health was not tak­en aback by the results.

“We think that the kind of expo­sure that they had, it was enough to cre­ate an infec­tion in one per­son, [so] it was most like­ly that the rest had that expo­sure,” he said.

Trac­ing con­tacts

The Min­is­ter said the depart­ment was now focus­ing on track­ing all con­tacts of the patients, includ­ing those who sat two seats ahead and behind them on the flight from over­seas to South Africa, and the domes­tic flights they took to get home.

“We are on course to find­ing all [these peo­ple]. Many more con­tacts are being test­ed,” said Mkhize, adding that they will have a clear­er pic­ture in the next 48 hours.

The depart­ment has already test­ed 113 peo­ple, who had come in con­tact with the nine.

Repa­tri­a­tion and han­dling vis­i­tors

The Nation­al Joint Oper­a­tional and Intel­li­gence Struc­ture (NATJOINTS) met on Mon­day to dis­cuss the out­break.

Mkhize said among the issues dis­cussed at the meet­ing was the evac­u­a­tion of South Africans from the epi­cen­tre of the out­break in Wuhan, Chi­na.

The pro­gramme, the Min­is­ter con­firmed, is on course.

“We con­tin­ue to expect the [Defence Force] mem­bers to move with the plan as agreed. Because of the flu­id nature of some of the issues, these will be best report­ed on when every­thing has been com­plet­ed.

“We are just hap­py with the update as we speak,” said Mkhize.

Anoth­er issue addressed in the NATJOINTS meet­ing was government’s approach to deal­ing with peo­ple com­ing from areas of high trans­mis­sion.

“We’ve also had to look at issues around major con­fer­ences and sport­ing events.

“At the moment, we are hav­ing quite a num­ber of con­sul­ta­tions and dis­cus­sions, and infor­ma­tion that has to be shared with Min­is­ters. As it stands, we don’t have any spe­cif­ic deci­sion to announce at that lev­el.

“Where nec­es­sary, [the rel­e­vant] Min­is­ters will be the ones mak­ing the nec­es­sary state­ments, and where there’s con­sul­ta­tion with the Pres­i­den­cy, we’ll com­mu­ni­cate at that lev­el.

“If we have to go to Cab­i­net, issues will be tak­en up at that lev­el,” said Mkhize.

A num­ber of stake­hold­er engage­ments in the hos­pi­tal­i­ty and tourism indus­try will also be held. – SAnews.gov.za

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