The National Institute for Communicable Diseases (NICD), a division of the National Health Laboratory Service, remains on high alert for an imported case of COVID-19 amid the increased number of cases reported in Italy and South Korea as well as reports of cases and deaths in the Islamic Republic of Iran. These reports suggest that community transmission may be occurring in some settings outside of China.
We, however, continue to work closely in collaboration with international bodies and the World Health Organization (WHO) to intensify our preparedness for a possible case of COVID-19 that may reach South Africa. Surveillance activities are ongoing and we continue to provide guidance documents, for the South African context, to public and healthcare professionals in order to strengthen general understanding of COVID-19 and rapid detection.
People who develop symptoms of respiratory illness including cough, fever and shortness of breath either or during and after travel to countries where coronavirus is known to be circulating must seek medical care early and share information about travel history with their healthcare providers. The General Public Hotline Number is 0800 029 999 and operates on weekdays, Monday to Friday, during 08h00 to 16h00.
As of 24 February 2020, we have tested a total of 116 people for SARS-CoV-2 of which 68 were persons under investigation (PIU) and all results came back negative. The NICD can confirm that South Africa has not had a confirmed case of COVID- 19 and should there be a positive case of COVID-19, the NICD will announce duly.