Prejudice and false information will thwart international cooperation in curbing the spread of the novel coronavirus, says the writer. Picture: IANS

Durban - South Africa's National Institute for Communicable Diseases (NICD) on Wednesday refuted "false information" posted on Twitter that a person had died from the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) in the Western Cape. 

"We have noted false information on Twitter under the handle @MarkSmit222 insinuating that there was a COVID-19 death in the Western Cape," said NICD senior communications' manager Sinenhlanhla Jimoh, via a statement. 

"We can confirm that there has been no positive case of COVID-19 nor a death so far in South Africa. Furthermore, we would like to ask the public to disregard rumours of this nature and discourage the spreading of false information. 

"Should there be a positive case, official information will be communicated by the National Department of Health, the World Health Organisation (WHO) and the NICD." 

South Africa remained on high alert for any suspected cases that could be imported through its borders, she said, but to date no positive cases had been detected. 

"As of February 12, 2020, the NICD, a division of the National Health Laboratory Service, has conducted 63 tests for COVID-19 and all came back negative. The NICD can confirm that South Africa has not had a confirmed case of COVID-19." 

The National Emergency Operations Centre (EOC) housed at the NICD remained activated and continued to receive information from the clinician’s 24-hour hotline and the general public number, said Jimoh. 

"We would like to remind the public of the general public hotline number, 011 386 2000, which operates from Monday to Friday, 08h00 to 16h00. Calls made after hours and outside the operational scope will be diverted to Gauteng Emergency Services." 

African News Agency (ANA)