The deadly coronavirus (Covid-19) – which to date has left more than 2,700 people dead in more than 80,000 reported cases – has not reached South Africa.
The National Institute for Communicable Diseases (NICD), a division of the National Health Laboratory Service, on Tuesday said it remained on high alert for an imported case of Covid-19.
There has been an increased number of cases reported in Italy and South Korea, as well as reports of cases and deaths in the Islamic Republic of Iran.
According to the NICD, these reports suggest that community transmission may be occurring in some settings outside of China.
NICD senior communications manager Sinenhlanhla Jimoh said: “We, however, continue to work closely in collaboration with international bodies and the World Health Organisation (WHO) to intensify our preparedness for a possible case of Covid-19 that may reach South Africa.
“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.”
Jimoh said people who developed symptoms of respiratory illness – including cough, fever and shortness of breath – during and/or after travel to countries where coronavirus was known to be circulating should seek medical care early and share information about their travel histories with their healthcare providers.
The General Public Hotline Number is 0800 029 999 and operates on weekdays, Monday to Friday, between 8am and 4pm.
“As of 24 February 2020, we have tested a total of 116 people for SARS-CoV-2, of which 68 were persons under investigation, and all results came back negative.
“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.”
News24 earlier reported that there had been no reported cases of South African nationals living in China having contracted the coronavirus.
This is according to China’s ambassador to South Africa, Lin Songtian.
Songtian confirmed that no South Africans were among the 27 foreign nationals who had contracted the virus in China. Two of the infected foreigners have died.