South African President Cyril Ramaphosa says he is satisfied with the country’s preparedness to deal with the outbreak of the coronavirus (COVID-19). The country has now recorded its first positive case of a man who travelled from Italy.
Touching down from Cape Town on Thursday, the President’s first order – assure South Africans that there is no need to panic.
Ramaphosa says if not dealt with effectively, an outbreak of the deadly coronavirus in South Africa will have a negative impact on the country’s already fragile economy.
The President says the government is already hard at work putting mechanisms in place to control a possible outbreak as the country registers its first case of the virus.
A 38-year-old man in KwaZulu-Natal, who travelled to Italy with his wife, was part of a group of 10 people who arrived back in South Africa on 1 March. The other travellers are now being traced.
“We are just at the beginning of this and we will keep informing South Africans very openly and transparently about the number of steps that we will be taking. And it will have a huge impact on a number of things, a negative impact also on our economy it is already showing signs of having a negative impact on our tourism as well so the effect is going to be big and South Africans need to be prepared,” Ramaphosa says.
Meanwhile, the doctor who examined South Africa’s first coronavirus patient has also been isolated. This was revealed by Health Minister Zweli Mkhize.
He made the comments as he was closing the debate in the national assembly on South Africa’s readiness to deal with the virus.
“Now we have got a whole team of our emergency operations centre who have to identify all the contacts, interviewing the patient and the doctor. The tracer team has landed in KwaZulu-Natal with epidemiologists and clinicians from the National Institute for Communicable Disease (NICD). The doctor is also self-isolated. So we have actually descended on this particular case. We are now tracing the others who may have come back so that we must start widening the net to reach out to all those who could have been exposed and are at risk.”
The Health Department says it is still awaiting the test results of the wife and two children of the country’s first patient of the deadly coronavirus.
Sites identified countrywide
The Department of Health says it has identified 10 sites countrywide to deal with the virus. Deputy Minister of Health Joe Phahla says, “At this stage as we said we are only talking about one confirmed case but we would be looking at capacity from 20-30 beds in a hospital some of the bigger ones may be a bit more 200-300 spread all over the country equipment can be moved around as well as patients if for one reason or the other one province gets overwhelmed.”
Parliament’s Health Portfolio Committee Chairperson Sibongiseni Dhlomo has urged South Africans to practice good personal hygiene and to regularly and thoroughly handed to help prevent the spread of the coronavirus.
“This is like any other flu-like illness which is a communicable disease by the spread of droplets. So if you can make sure when you sneeze, when you cough we cough into a handkerchief or an elbow you just don’t cough openly where any other person can get what is coming from you. Do this in any other form of illness either than coronavirus?”