More than 60 people in SA tested for coronavirus — all tests negative

11 February 2020 - 15:41 By Kgaugelo Masweneng

The National Institute for Communicable Diseases (NICD) has run tests on 61 people in SA for the novel coronavirus, with all of those tests proving negative.

NICD spokesperson Sinenhlanhla Jimoh said the organisation was still pushing ahead with surveillance activities and testing of those who show symptoms of the virus.

“SA remains a destination of choice for many travellers, with a lot of traffic managed from Cape Town International Airport and OR Tambo International Airport. All ports of entry, including the aforementioned high-traffic airports, remain on high alert for a possible case,” said Jimoh.

“It is possible that we will detect a case and, as such, we would like to assure the public that should SA 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.” 

The virus, which originated in the Chinese city of Wuhan, has now spread to other major Chinese cities as well as other countries. The death toll has topped 1,000 people.

Jimoh said while the outbreak was ongoing in other countries, “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,” she said.

This included:

  • avoiding close contact with people suffering from acute respiratory infections;
  • frequent handwashing, especially after direct contact with ill people or their environment; and
  • avoiding markets where live animals are sold.

Travellers with symptoms of acute respiratory infection should practise appropriate cough etiquette by maintaining their distance from others, covering coughs and sneezes with tissues, and washing hands frequently.


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