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Coronavirus: Health Minister calls for people to stop spreading fake news

KZN Health MEC Nomagugu Simelane-Zulu, Health Minister Dr Zweli Mkhize, Education MEC Kwazi Mshengu with officials and the management of Cowan House Prep. Picture: Se-Anne Rall

KZN Health MEC Nomagugu Simelane-Zulu, Health Minister Dr Zweli Mkhize, Education MEC Kwazi Mshengu with officials and the management of Cowan House Prep. Picture: Se-Anne Rall

Published Mar 6, 2020

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Durban - Health Minister, Dr Zweli Mkhize, has urged people to refrain from spreading fake news about the coronavirus outbreak in South Africa. 

"South Africa has only one case and we are working to contain it. The stories going around that are creating panic, need to stop," Mkhize said on Thursday. 

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Mkhize addressed the media at a press briefing at the Cowan House Preparatory School in Hilton on Friday. The briefing followed a meeting with the school's management and parent body in which the minister reassured the community that there was no need to panic. 

Mkhize reiterated that the Department of Health was prepared to deal with the outbreak. 

The country's first case was confirmed by the Health Ministry on Thursday after a Hilton resident tested positive for the virus. The man was a part of a group of 10 people who returned from a holiday in Italy on March 1. 

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According to Mkhize, the 38-year-old man visited his doctor after he began displaying flu-like symptoms. Tests confirmed that the resident had contracted the virus. Mkhize said the patient is currently at Greys Hospital in Pietermaritzburg.

Mkhize applauded the doctor who identified the virus, adding that she followed the necessary steps as per the World Health Organisation Standards. The doctor has been put into quarantine. 

Mkhize further distanced his and other affected departments from news reports that members of the South African Defense Force were not prepared to travel to the Chinese city of Wuhan to repatriate more than 150 South Africans in the city. 

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%%%twitter https://twitter.com/hashtag/CoronavirusInSA?src=hash&ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#CoronavirusInSAMinister Mkhize said he was not aware that the SANDF was not prepared to travel to Wuhan to repatriate residents in the coronavirus-stricken city - as previously reported.

— The Mercury™ (@TheMercurySA)

%%%twitter https://twitter.com/hashtag/CoronavirusInSA?src=hash&ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#CoronavirusInSAMinister Mkhize said govt was in the position to deal with the viral strain. Make sure to wash your hands and cough into a tissue or handkerchief and keep your distance if someone is sick.

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— The Mercury™ (@TheMercurySA)

MEC for the Department of Health, Kwazi Mshengu, echoed the minister's statements that schools did not have to close. 

"There is no need for schools to close. If there are cases, we will keep out officials on high alert in case there are suspected cases in any of the schools. No schools will be closed based on this case. We will inform our principals if that changes," he said. 

The Mercury

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