Passengers sits inside a minibus taxi during their journey to home in Kwa-Thema east of Johannesburg, South Africa, Tuesday, March 17, 2020. President Cyril Ramaphosa said all schools will be closed for 30 days from Wednesday and he banned all public gatherings of more than 100 people. South Africa will close 35 of its 53 land borders and will intensify screening at its international airports. For most people, the new COVID-19 coronavirus causes only mild or moderate symptoms. For some it can cause more severe illness. (AP Photo/Themba Hadebe)
Passengers sits inside a minibus taxi during their journey to home in Kwa-Thema east of Johannesburg, South Africa, Tuesday, March 17, 2020. President Cyril Ramaphosa said all schools will be closed for 30 days from Wednesday and he banned all public gatherings of more than 100 people. South Africa will close 35 of its 53 land borders and will intensify screening at its international airports. For most people, the new COVID-19 coronavirus causes only mild or moderate symptoms. For some it can cause more severe illness. (AP Photo/Themba Hadebe)

Coronavirus spreads in SA: Free State province records first case

By Sihle Mlambo Time of article published Mar 19, 2020

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Johannesburg - The number of people infected with the coronavirus is growing daily and has now moved beyond the 150 reported by President Cyril Ramaphosa earlier on Thursday. 

Health Minister Zweli Mkhize confirmed on Thursday afternoon that the coronavirus had spread to a sixth province, with the Free State being the latest affected area. 

Gauteng, Western Cape, KwaZulu-Natal, Mpumalanga and Limpopo are the other provinces with confirmed cases of Covid-19 within their borders. 

Gauteng - 76 

Western Cape - 46 

KZN - 22

Mpumalanga - 5

Limpopo - 1

The confirmation of the cases in the Free State will take South Africa’s positive cases even further up on Friday.

“We also wish to advise South Africans that the Free State province now has its first confirmed cases. The patients are being informed as we speak, some have already been taken into quarantine by the provincial government,” said the minister. 

Mkhize said the number of new increases of the Covid-19 virus would be revealed on Friday. He said the Free State patients had not been made aware, yet. 

Meanwhile, the minister said he had convened an urgent teleconference with chief executives from private laboratories who are working with the state in performing Covid-19 tests. 

“At this meeting, the private laboratories expressed their commitment and willingness to work hand in hand with the government to perform the Covid-19 tests. 

“The meeting acknowledged that in order to allow for consistent reporting of cases, all information will be sent to the NICD in real time. There will be collaboration and proper compilation of the results, thereafter it will be released to the public,” said the minister. 

Mkhize expressed concern that some of the contact details of people found positive in private labs was not being made available. 

“As it will be noted in the above breakdown, we have stated that the contact details of some of the confirmed cases were not included in the laboratory form. 

“This therefore puts more pressure on the NICD and provinces to track down the private doctor that the patient consulted, in order to obtain the patient’s details. 

“The meeting therefore resolved that the minister must plead with all doctors to complete the forms comprehensively so that all the patient’s information is immediately available. 

“This will assist in ensuring that the confirmed results are also analysed in terms of geo mapping, to facilitate urgent tracing of contacts of the patient,” said Mkhize. 

On the issue of recoveries, Mkhize said they were pleased that some patients were making recoveries.

“We are in the process of conducting further confirmation tests and medical examinations then we formally inform the public on the numbers of recoveries. At this stage, most of the patients are recovering well,” said Mkhize.

The minister also wished Western Cape Health MEC Dr Nomafrench Mbombo well after she went into self-quarantine after coming in contact with the French Consul-General who tested positive for Covid-19. 

“The MEC is feeling strong and has not exhibited any symptoms. She is now waiting to receive her results that will determine her way forward. 

“We wish her well as we know that she has been crisscrossing the Western Cape province to ensure the state of preparedness of our health facilities for Covid-19 patients requiring admission,” said Mkhize. 

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