UPDATED: 16 coronavirus cases now confirmed in SA as virus spreads
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*This story has been updated to retract a statement made by the Department of Health, which initially reported the total number of infections had risen to 17. One of the said patients was found to have tested negative.
Johannesburg - The Mpumalanga province was the latest to have confirmed cases of the novel coronavirus, the Department of Health confirmed on Thursday, as South Africa’s tally rose to 16.
Until Thursday, there had been 13 confirmed cases of coronavirus confined to the provinces of KwaZulu-Natal, Gauteng and the Western Cape.
In a media statement on Thursday, the Department of Health confirmed three new cases in KZN, Mpumalanga and Gauteng - with each province having one new case each.
Health Minister Zweli said a 32-year-old man who had come into contact with a Chinese businessman had tested negative for the coronavirus in the Free State. The department had initially reported the man had tested positive for the virus, but this was later found to be untrue after more tests. The man had tested positive at a private facility. The man had initially been reported to be the country's first local transmission of the virus on South African shores as he had not travelled abroad recently.
Mkhize also said the government had noted the announcement by the World Health Organisation that the Covid-19 was now a pandemic.
“A pandemic is a worldwide spread of a new disease. Today, 12 March 2020, South Africa now has 16 confirmed cases of COVID-19. This is an additional 3 cases from Wednesday,” said Mkhize.
Mpumalanga - 1 new infection - A 27-year-old woman who had returned from the United States on March 7, tested positive.
KZN - 1 new infection - A 38-year-old man from Durban, but who resides in Turkey, was visiting his family in South Africa when he tested postive. He arrived in the country via the UK on March 7.
Gauteng - 1 new infection - A 43-year-old Joburg man traveled to New York via Dubai and returned to South Africa on March 8. He tested positive.
Total number of confirmed coronavirus infections nationally:
This takes the number of total infections in South Africa to 16, with KZN so far the most affected with a total of 8 cases.