The devastating impact of the coronavirus in China has had a ripple effect across the world, including the South African tourism industry.

Tourism Lecturer at the Tshwane University of Technology, Unathi Sonwabile Henama says a decline in tourism arrivals from Chinese citizens will have a negative impact on the tourism sector in the country.

Henama says, in the past three to four years, domestic tourism has declined as a factor of economic growth in the country.

Last week Friday, Health Minister Zweli Mkhize told reporters that South Africa was on high alert of any coronavirus cases.

Mkhize said health officials remain vigilant for any signs of the virus that may enter the country.

“I outlined the process of activated emergency operations centre, should there be any public health emergency declaration by the WHO. That centre was activated last night (Thursday) and is operational. We are busy building up the staff numbers that we need. This means that we have dedicated staff working exclusively on the coronavirus, monitoring and responding to detect and follow up. There will be added personnel and resources although we have already ‘capacitated’ ourselves.”

Currently, there aren’t any cases of the virus that have been reported in the country.

The virus has claimed more than 500 lives in China.

The World Health Organization (WHO) has declared the flu-like virus a global emergency, but experts say its mortality and transmission rates are unknown. Pregnant women may be able to pass it to their unborn children, according to Chinese state broadcaster CCTV.

Asked about various media reports of “drug breakthroughs,” WHO Spokesman Tarik Jasarevic said: “There are no known effective therapeutics against this 2019-nCoV.”

Mkhize announced the names of hospitals equipped to manage the possible outbreak of Coronavirus in South Africa.

Each province has a designated hospital, with Gauteng having three hospitals ready in case of an outbreak.