The National Institute for Communicable Diseases (NICD) says there has been no confirmed case of coronavirus (COVID-19) in South Africa so far.
In an update on its website on Monday, NICD said, “The NICD can confirm that South Africa has not had a confirmed case of COVID-19 and should there be a positive case of COVID-19, the NICD will announce duly.”
However, it said it remained on high alert given the increased number of reported cases in South Korea and Italy as well as deaths in Iran.
Negative results for SARS-CoV-2
The Institute added, “As of 24 February 2020, we have tested a total of 116 people for SARS-CoV-2 [severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2] of which 68 were persons under investigation (PIU) and all results came back negative.”
It said people who develop symptoms of respiratory illness, such as cough, fever and shortness of breath, during or after travel to countries with confirmed cases should seek medical care urgently.
They should also share their travel history with their medical practitioners. NICD’s General Public Hotline Number is 0800 029 999 and operates on weekdays, Monday to Friday, from 08h00 to 16h00.
NICD said it is working closely with the World Health Organisation (WHO) and other international entities to intensify its preparedness.
Over 80,000 reported cases
“Surveillance activities are ongoing and we continue to provide guidance documents, for the South African context, to public and healthcare professionals in order to strengthen general understanding of COVID-19 and rapid detection,” it added.
There have been more than 80,000 reported cases of coronavirus in several countries since the disease first broke out in China in December last year.
More than 2,700 people have lost their lives to coronavirus so far, with 2,663 deaths occurring in China alone, according to Al Jazeera.
The outbreak has sparked panic in equity markets around the world, including the Johannesburg Stock Exchange (JSE).
According to Business Maverick, the JSE fell 4% on Monday over fears that coronavirus, could trigger lower global travel, more factory shutdowns in affected countries and lower oil outputs.
Abri du Plessis, CEO of Gryphon Asset Management, said, “The JSE’s decline on Monday had nothing to do with concerns about the Budget speech on Wednesday and everything to do with the coronavirus.”