By Ashok Ramsarup :: South Africa has reported its first coronavirus case in the port city of Durban. Health Minister Zweli Mkhize told the media that a 38-old-man who returned from Italy earlier this week was tested positive with the deadly virus.
Dr Mkhize announced that a tracer team, including epidemiologists and clinicians from the National Institute for Communicable Diseases (NICD), has been dispatched in the province of KwaZulu-Natal.
“The patient with the virus is self-isolated and he was part of a group of about 10 people returned home on Sunday,” Dr Mkhize commenting that the virus that claimed hundreds of lives that emanated from Chinese province Wuhan. The man was with his wife at the time.
Other affected countries in the African continent with the virus included are Senegal, Nigeria, Algeria and Egypt. About 97,878 cases were reported globally and 3,353 confirmed deaths.
Dr Mkhize said in a statement the affected man had consulted a private general practitioner after developing a fever, headache, sore throat and a cough. A source said the patient was admitted to a local hospital. Apparently the man had travelled through OR Tambo International Airport and later boarded a connecting flight to KwaZulu-Natal.
Speaking at the Waterkloof Airforce Base, near Pretoria, President Cyril Ramaphosa called on South Africans not to panic, but to be alert and be knowledgeable about the coronavirus, warning of the potential impact on the country’s economy.
Mr Ramaphosa said: “The government will demonstrate its seriousness in dealing with the outbreak as this is just the beginning, but this can turn out into a national crisis”.
Meanwhile, South Africa is planning to repatriate dozens of its citizens — comprising mainly students, teachers and other professionals working in China, which is the epicentre of the epidemic, recorded more than three thousand deaths, spreading to more than 70 countries.
Ashok Ramsarup is award-winning senior journalist of South Africa