First person in South Africa tests positive for COVID-19 virus
A 38-year-old man from KwaZulu-Natal has become the first person in South Africa to test positive for the COVID-19 (Coronavirus Disease 2019) virus, according to a media statement released by Health Minister Dr Zweli Mkhize earlier this afternoon.
Mkhize said in parliament that the National Institute for Communicable Diseases (NICD) confirmed this morning (5 March 2020) that the man had tested positive for the coronavirus.
“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 said.
Over 2 500 cases and 79 deaths have been reported in Italy as of yesterday.
The statement did not say whether the man underwent screening at the airport when he arrived back in South Africa.
According to Mkhize’s statement 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 then took swabs and delivered it to the lab.
The patient has been self-isolating since March 3, presumably at his home. The patient’s doctor has also been self-isolating, Mkhize said in parliament.
Mkhize said that the Emergency Operating Centre (EOC) has identified the man’s contacts by interviewing the patient and doctor. These contacts likely include the man’s wife, two children, the ten persons who travelled with them, and others the man had close contact with.
The statement did not indicate whether all these contacts have been tested and whether all test results have been received. Mkhize did however say in parliament that the contacts would be tested.
“The tracer team has been deployed to KwaZulu-Natal with epidemiologists and clinicians from NICD. The doctor has been self-isolated as well,” Mkhize’s statement said.
Meanwhile Mkhize and the national department of health came under fire during a debate in Parliament on South Africa’s readiness for a COVID-19 outbreak.
Various opposition MPs called for a comprehensive public information campaign that is becoming crucial in light of the first confirmed COVID-19 case.
Mkhize in his reply urged against politicking around the issue. He assured MPs that everyone the couple came into contact with is being traced and tested as the net is being cast wide.
This article will be updated.