Minister of Health Dr Zweli Mkhize has confirmed that a suspected case of coronavirus, also known as COVID-19, has tested positive in South Africa.
In a statement, he said he received the confirmation from the National Institute for Communicable Diseases (NICD) on Thursday morning.
He said, “The patient is a 38-year-old male who travelled to Italy with his wife. They were part of a group of 10 people and they arrived back in South Africa on March 1, 2020.”
Mkhize added, “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.
“The patient has been self-isolating since March 3. The couple also has two children. The Emergency Operating Centre (EOC) has identified the contacts by interviewing the patient and doctor.
“The tracer team has been deployed to KwaZulu-Natal with epidemiologists and clinicians from NICD. The doctor has been self-isolated as well.”
The Minister said he will hold a press briefing later on Thursday after a Parliamentary debate on South Africa’s state of readiness to combat the virus.
Over 90,000 confirmed cases worldwide
More than 90,000 people worldwide have now been infected with the virus since it first broke out in China in December 2019. More than 3,000 have lost their lives so far.
Last week, the Department of Health confirmed that two South Africans who worked in the Japanese cruise ship Diamond Princess had tested positive for coronavirus.
“On 25 February 2020, we were informed by the Japanese authorities that two of these South Africans tested positive for COVID-19. They are currently being treated in Japan and the latest reports indicate that they are currently asymptomatic,” it said.
President Cyril Ramaphosa also directed the repatriation of 132 South Africans from the city of Wuhan in China, the epicentre of the coronavirus outbreak.
According to a Presidency statement on Thursday last week, the 132 South Africans are not infected and had “expressed a desire to be repatriated.”
“Upon arrival in SA, they will be placed in quarantine for 21 days as an additional precautionary measure,” the Presidency said.