South Africa now has seven cases of patients confirmed to have the coronavirus. The National Department of Health announced during a press conference in Pretoria today that the number has escalated from 3 to 7 in a matter of days.
On March 9, Minister of Health Dr Zwheli Mkhize, said there are four more people who tested positive for coronavirus and are currently in quarantine. These include a 30-year-old male and a female from KwaZulu-Natal.
The female arrived in the country already displaying symptoms while her partner did not. Currently, both of them have tested positive and are in quarantine, but are not hospitalised.
A 45-year-old male, as well as another 38-year-old male, both from Pietermartizburg tested positive as well and are also in quarantine.
“Once the person becomes positive, we then test the contacts and when the contacts are positive we treat each one as the centre of the circle.We will test each one’s contacts until we can get to a point where we break the circle of positive results. We will then stop following that particular lead and then we will follow those where the results become positive.”
“Mkhize reassured South Africans that the department is still on course and are quite comfortable that this is a limited situation.
“Another thing that would be of importance now is to see that the people who are getting infected are having an experience of having been to countries other than China, which means we need to be more vigilant because infection could come from any other aircraft.
“It could come from any airline and what we have to start watching is that the infection will at some point become a local transmission, which means beyond the one person, our people locally are the ones that are transmitting the infection. That situation is what we are watching out for and therefore we will continue to test all of these contacts. As soon as we see you are a contact to be tested, we recommend you to be quarantined and then we will look at the circumstances of the individuals.
“More people have been tested, but there are no results yet,” Mkhize said.
National Government is also following up with everyone who has come into contact with those who tested positive.
The first case of the virus in South Africa was announced on Thursday, March 5. A 38-year-old man had contracted the virus while holidaying in Italy with his wife and children. The family arrived back in South Africa on March 1.
“The patient consulted a private general practitioner on March 3, with symptoms of fever, headache, malaise, a sore throat and a cough. The practice nurse took swabs and delivered it to the lab,” Mkhize said. “The patient has been self-isolating since March 3. The couple also has two children,” the Minister had said at the time.
A team of epidemiologists and clinicians from the National Institute of Communicable Diseases (NCID) were deployed to KwaZulu-Natal, as this is the province the patient calls home. The doctor who treated him also self-isolated to ensure he showed no symptoms of contagion.
On March 7, the second cases of coronavirus was confirmed, the patient is a 39-year-old woman from Gauteng who had come into direct contact with the 38-year-old man who was the first confirmed coronavirus carrier.
The second patient had also travelled to Gauteng with the first patient, and was admitted to a public health facility in the province.
“The public must be notified that we have information and know the whereabouts of all the other 10 people who were part of the group that had travelled to Italy,” Mkhize said at the time. “All those who came back to South Africa, are currently being tested. We are now awaiting their test results to come out. Since being traced, they have remained in isolation to avoid any further contact with third parties.”
On March 8, the country’s third confirmed coronavirus case was announced. This time, the carrier was the wife of the 38-year-old “patient zero”. The couple are from Hilton, near Pietermartizberg in KwaZulu-Natal.
“She had also travelled with him to Italy as part of a group of 10. I now wish to advise the public that she has tested positive for Covid-19 and is therefore the third confirmed case in South Africa,” Mkhize said at the time.
The remaining six who had holidayed with the couple have all been tested.
“It is important to advise the public that the couple’s children were tested and their results have come out negative,” added Mkhize.
While the children of the pair have tested negative as carriers of the Covid-19, they have self-isolated.
The coronavirus or the COVID-19 mainly spreads via respiratory droplets produced when an infected person coughs or sneezes.
In addition, close contact can further spread the virus as well as touching an object or surface that has been in contact with the virus and then touching your mouth, nose or eyes without having washed your hands.
Many people have a misconception that when they suspect they might have the virus, the first thing they should do is go to the doctor.
This couldn’t be further from the truth as visiting a doctor or busy hospital could actually spread the virus.
Instead those who feel they might be infected should quarantine themselves in a private area like their home and call the hotline below for help.
Coronavirus Hotline: 0800029999