Surveillance activities and monitoring of the COVID-19 outbreak is taking place at the National Institute for Communicable Diseases (NICD), a division of the National Health Laboratory Service. As of 18 February 2020, 87 people have tested for COVID-19 of which 49 meet the case definition for COVID-19 person under investigation (PUI), and all results have come back negative. We can assure South Africans that the country has not had a confirmed case of COVID-19.
Through the National Emergency Operations Centre, updating of guidelines and training of healthcare professionals, and taking steps to expand the scope for testing for COVID-19, the NICD continues to strengthen capacity to better contain and manage the COVID-19 outbreak from entering South Africa.
The NICD and the National Department of Health will continue to issue updates on COVID-19 pertaining to South Africa’s status through communication channels. We wish to thank South Africans and healthcare professionals for continuing to provide information to the NICD through the clinicians’ hotline number and the public toll-free number.
We would like to urge the public to continue practising hand hygiene and cough etiquette, and adhering 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.