COVID-19 update

The COVID-19 outbreak continues in China, and there have been no new countries in the past five days that have reported cases of COVID-19. The National Institute for Communicable Diseases (NICD), a division of the National Health Laboratory Service, as of 14 February 2020 has tested 71 individuals under investigation for COVID-19, and all results have come back negative.

The NICD and the National Department of Health continue to strengthen surveillance activities through improving the training of health professionals consisting of medical doctors, environmental health practitioners, emergency personnel and nurses. Today, 14 February 2020, the NICD will be conducting additional training to public and private health care practitioners focusing on surveillance and case definitions including who should be tested, and contact tracing. Moreover, the training will cover infection, prevention and control at all hospitals, including patient flow and management, and transfer of patients to designated hospitals.

Case identification plays an important role in detecting COVID-19 through symptoms identification. We recommend that persons returning to South Africa from an area with community transmission of SARS-CoV-2019, presently mainland China, self-isolate at the first onset of symptoms such as acute respiratory illness with fever, cough, shortness of breath, and breathing difficulties. We also recommend that persons seek medical attention from their healthcare provider – they should disclose their travel history, seek assistance regarding isolation while waiting to be seen by a clinician to minimise possible infection to others.  Additionally, persons should implement measures to prevent transmission, including meticulous hand hygiene, respiratory hygiene (covering of mouth with tissues or facial mask).

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