The National Institute for Communicable Diseases (NICD), a division of the National Health Laboratory Service, to date has conducted 42 tests for the novel coronavirus (2019-nCoV) and all results have come back negative. As of 07 February 2020, the NICD confirms that there is no positive case of the 2019-nCoV in South Africa. It is important to note that the collection and testing of samples from individuals with symptoms is normal and demonstrates effective surveillance of the 2019-nCoV.
We would like to acknowledge healthcare professionals across the country from the public and private healthcare sectors who have been instrumental in detecting, identifying and responding to possible cases. The circulated guidelines to doctors and nurses offer 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.
We caution the public against rumours and misinformation concerning the 2019-nCoV; the public can access information from the National Department of Health, the World Health Organization and the NICD communication platforms.
To prevent the spread of the 2019-nCoV, the NICD recommends good practice of hand hygiene, cough etiquette and avoiding contact with animals when in a high-risk country, and adhering to the following:
- Avoiding 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.
The NICD assures the public that systems have been put in place to rapidly identify and detect any imported cases of the 2019-nCoV in South Africa and that the country is prepared should we have a positive case.
For more information, the public can access the NICD website on nicd.ac.za or call the toll-free number on 0800 029 999. Take note that the toll-free line operates from Monday to Friday, 08h00 to 16h00.