The minister of Health Dr Zweli Mkhize addressing the media after the first patient in South Africa is a 38-year old man who travelled from Italy, via Dubai, into King Shaka International Airport near Durban. Picture: Motshwari Mofokeng/African News Agency(ANA)
The minister of Health Dr Zweli Mkhize addressing the media after the first patient in South Africa is a 38-year old man who travelled from Italy, via Dubai, into King Shaka International Airport near Durban. Picture: Motshwari Mofokeng/African News Agency(ANA)

Zweli Mkhize assures parents after confirmation of coronavirus case in SA

By ANA Reporter Time of article published Mar 6, 2020

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Durban - Health minister Dr Zweli Mkhize on Friday reassured parents at Hilton's Cowan House preparatory school that they were not alone in feeling anxious about their children following the country's first coronavirus (COVID-19) case being confirmed in the upmarket Midlands town.

"I want parents to know that you are not alone," Mkhize said during a media briefing at the school. He was joined by the provincial member of the executive council for health, the education MEC, representatives from the National Institute for Communicable Diseases (NICD) and representatives from the school, among others. 

Mkhize and the representatives held a closed meeting with parents and other stakeholders at the school before opening the venue to the media. He continually emphasised that the department, at a national and provincial level, was prepared to find and tackle cases of the infection. He also cautioned against panic. 

The 38-year-old man who tested positive for the virus was currently at Greys Hospital, said the minister, and was "not very sick". His wife and two small children - who attend the independent preparatory school - were in self-quarantine at their home. They children were asymptomatic, said Mkhize. 

The man and his wife had flown back from Italy, via Dubai, and landed at Durban's King Shaka International Airport on Sunday. 

Italy is a known hot-spot for the virus. 

The man went to his local doctor, Hilton-based Dr. Robyn Reed, on Tuesday with flu symptoms. The doctor sent a swab to the NICD, with the results being confirmed as positive on Wednesday. Mkhize announced the confirmed case on Thursday. 

Dr Reed has been in self-quarantine at her home, as have others from her practice. She told media earlier that she had been in telephonic contact with the patient and his family, and said the man was doing well. She urged residents of the small town not to panic. 

Mkhize told the media briefing that Cowan House had not been closed by the department, but the school's board chairperson, Andrew Barnes, said it would be monitoring the situation, consulting with its own experts and would make a decision about staying opened or closed from there. 

Greys Hospital, in Pietermaritzburg, is one of KwaZulu-Natal's four designated facilities for potential coronavirus patients, the others  being Durban's Addington Hospital, Empangeni's Ngwelezane Hospital and Manguzi Hospital on the far north coast.

Provincial health MEC Nomagugu Simelane-Zulu said that 18 people who were known to have been in contact with the man before he tested positive had been tested on Thursday night and were in self-quarantine until the results were known. 

African News Agency (ANA)

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