Should you cancel your trip to China because of the deadly coronavirus?

29 January 2020 - 13:25 By Sanet Oberholzer
Visitors wear protective masks to guard against coronavirus as they tour the grounds of the Temple of Heaven on January 27 2020 in Beijing, China.
Visitors wear protective masks to guard against coronavirus as they tour the grounds of the Temple of Heaven on January 27 2020 in Beijing, China.
Image: Kevin Frayer/Getty Images

SA has not issued a travel ban to China amid the spread of the deadly flu-like coronavirus, but the country is on high alert.

Travel guidelines based on those of the World Health Organisation (WHO) were issued for South Africa this week.

During a media briefing on Wednesday, health minister Zweli Mkhize said the guidelines “have not recommended any restrictions on travel and trade, but it is recommended that non-essential travel to Wuhan city and Hubei province should be avoided or postponed”.

SA's airports and other points of entry would be closely monitored and screening processes would be intensified for people travelling from China and other Asian countries.

It is recommended that non-essential travel to Wuhan city [and] Hubei province should be avoided or postponed
Health minister Zweli Mkhize

Mkhize said SA had responded rapidly to ensure coronavirus did not become a national threat. He reassured the public that the health department had contingency measures in place to deal with a coronavirus outbreak.

“SA is adequately prepared for active surveillance, early detection, isolation and case management, contact tracing and prevention of onward spread of coronavirus infection,” he said.

No cases had been reported in SA or its neighbouring countries, said Mkhize, but he confirmed that a case was under investigation in Zambia.

Two students who travelled from China have been placed under quarantine in Kenya and the Ivory Coast.

The department of international relations & co-operation (Dirco) previously urged students studying in China to tell the government of any plans to return to SA.

Other South Africans in China were also urged to inform their embassy should they contract the illness.

Last week, the Chinese embassy in Pretoria urged locals to avoid travelling to Wuhan, which is the epicentre of the outbreak.