COVID-19 update

The National Institute for Communicable Diseases (NICD), a division of the National Health Laboratory Service continues to monitor the rapidly evolving developments surrounding the COVID-19 outbreak in several cities in China and other countries in South Asia, North America, Europe and Egypt in Africa. The World Health Organization (WHO) yesterday confirmed a case of COVID-19 in the Islamic Republic of Iran.

The NICDs highly specialised team of experts which is responsible for performing COVID-19 monitoring and testing for South Africa and a number of African countries remains on alert for potential cases of the disease that may reach our shores. Surveillance of the COVID-19 outbreak remains a key priority for South Africa, and we continue to intensify screening at all ports of entry with a particular focus on our major airports of entry. Evidence continues to support this approach as the vast majority of cases are introduced into territories outside of China by air travellers.

As of 21 February 2020, the NICD has tested 107 people for SARS-CoV-2 of which 56 were persons under investigation (PUI). The NICD can confirm that all results came back negative for SARS-CoV-2 and that South Africa has not had a case of COVID-19.

While we note that there has been no case of COVID-19 reported in South Africa, we advise people who develop symptoms of respiratory illness including cough, fever and shortness of breath either during and after travel to countries where coronavirus is known to be circulating to seek medical care early and share information about travel history with their healthcare providers.

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