There have been no cases of coronavirus identified in South Africa and on the African continent. That is according to the National Institute for Communicable Diseases (NICD), a Division of the National Health Laboratory Service.
The death toll from the new flu-like virus has risen to 26 and more than 800 cases have been confirmed by China’s National Health Commission.
The NICD says that it has put in place systems to rapidly identify and detect any imported cases in South Africa of the coronavirus.
Professor Cheryl Cohen of the NICD says: “There have been no cases of coronavirus identified on the African continent and no cases in South Africa. There have been many cases reported from other countries of the world so we are really actively monitoring the situation globally and preparing for the possibility should a case be imported to South Africa.
There are also a number of additional resources already on standby should we have an imported case or high risk situation and these include the South African emergency operation centre which is really an integrated coordinating centre for this type of outbreak.
It appears that this virus is not very good at spreading between people.”
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The National Department of Health has assured South Africans that port health professionals routinely conduct temperature screening for all international travellers.
However, due to the current risk of importation of inadvertent cases of 2019-nCoV from Wuhan City – China, port health authorities have enhanced surveillance of all travellers from Asia, especially China.
Fortunately, OR Tambo and Cape Town International Airports are the only ports of entry with direct flights from Asia.
South Africa has developed and distributed clinical guidelines and case definitions to doctors and nurses in both the public and the private sectors. These include information on how to diagnosis and respond to a possible 2019-nCoV case.
Provinces have activated outbreak response teams and are on high alert to detect and manage inadvertent cases that may arrive in the country.
There are no restrictions that have been issued on travel to China.
The Department advises travellers to Wuhan (China) to avoid contact with animals and are encouraged to practice good hand hygiene and cough etiquette in order to reduce the risk of infection with respiratory viruses.
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