In light of the ongoing novel coronavirus (2019-nCoV) outbreak which originated in Wuhan City, Hubei Province of China and has now spread to other major Chines cities and other countries, the National Institute for Communicable Diseases (NICD), a division of the National Health Laboratory Service, continues with its surveillance activities and testing of individuals with symptoms of the 2019-nCoV. We can confirm that as of 11 February 2020, 61 individuals have been tested for the virus and all tests have come back negative, therefore there is no confirmed case of the 2019-nCoV in South Africa.
South Africa remains a destination of choice for many travellers, with a lot of traffic managed from Cape Town International Airport and Oliver Reginald Tambo International Airport. All ports of entry, including the aforementioned high traffic airports, remain on high alert for a possible case. It is possible that we will detect a case and as such, we would like to assure the public that should South Africa identify a positive case, the country is well prepared to deal with it. The NICD, working together with the National Department of Health, continues to enhance systems to rapidly identify and detect any imported cases that may reach our borders.
We continue to provide preparedness training, guidance and support to healthcare professionals in South Africa and the continent. Today, training of 130 health professionals, including medical doctors, environmental health practitioners, emergency personnel, nurses and others took place in the North-West Tshepong Hospital to build capacity and response. The training includes guidance on what samples to collect to confirm the diagnosis as well as how to best manage the case clinically and to prevent spread to others while the diagnosis is being made.
While the outbreak is ongoing, we encourage the public to heed to the measures to prevent the spread of respiratory infections. We recommend good practice of hand hygiene and cough etiquette. In addition, people should adhere to the following:
- Avoid close contact with people suffering from acute respiratory infections.
- Practice frequent hand-washing, especially after direct contact with ill people or their environment.
- Avoid visiting markets where live animals are sold.
- Travellers with symptoms of acute respiratory infection should practice cough etiquette (maintain distance, cover coughs and sneezes with disposable tissues or clothing and wash hands).
- Health practitioners should provide travellers with information to reduce the general risk of acute respiratory infections, via travel health clinics, travel agencies, conveyance operators and at points of entry. Travellers should self-report if they feel ill.