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Coronavirus: Health department tracking 8 who travelled from Italy to SA with patient

Health Minister Dr Zweli Mkhize. Picture: Jairus Mmutle / GCIS

Health Minister Dr Zweli Mkhize. Picture: Jairus Mmutle / GCIS

Published Mar 5, 2020

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Johannesburg - Health Minister Dr Zweli Mkhize said his department was working on tracking the eight individuals that had travelled back to South Africa from Italy with the 38-year-old man who has contracted the coronavirus, becoming SA's first confirmed case. 

Mkhize was briefing the media on Thursday following the his announcement that the country had recorded its first case of the covid-19 coronavirus. 

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The patient is a 38-year-old man from KwaZulu-Natal who had travelled to Italy with his wife. Mkhize said the man and his family will be quarantined. He is a South African citizen. 

The patient had presented no symptoms when he arrived in the country and only began showing symptoms three days after he returned. 

The minister said there was no need for the government to call for schools to be closed because this was the first case. He said the news was announced as soon as it was confirmed. 

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"The patient has been in isolation. He had consulted a doctor when he presented symptoms of a fever, headache, malaise and a sore throat and a cough. 

"The patient has been self-isolating since March 3. The couple also has two children. The Emergency Operating Centre (EOC) has identified the contacts by interviewing the patient and doctor," Mkhize said. 

"The tracer team has been deployed to KwaZulu-Natal with epidemiologists and clinicians from NICD. The doctor has been self-isolated as well. This media briefing is to ensure that the public is immediately kept abreast. A press briefing will be held later after the parliamentary debate ‪this evening‬, to shed more light on this issue."

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The coronavirus has sent fears around the world since it was first detected ‪on December 31‬ in Wuhan, China. The virus is believed to have been contracted from animals. Over 3000 people have died from the virus which has spread through various countries. 

Mkhize said identified hospitals were ready to treat patients who may have contracted the virus. He said the National Operations Centre is now open 24 hours to deal with cases that may be reported. 

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