7 South Africans from Italian tour group test positive for Covid-19 coronavirus

 ·9 Mar 2020

Minister of Health, Dr Zweli Mkhize says that four more South Africans have tested positive for the novel coronavirus (Covid-19) in the country – all part of the same group of tourists that recently returned from Italy.

So far the only confirmed source of the infection in South Africa comes from this single group that went on a skiing holiday in Livigno, Italy (Milan).

Of the group of 10, nine returned to South Africa, with one going to the UK. On top of the three cases already identified over the last three days, four more cases from the same group have tested positive.

According to Mkhize, all affected patients are healthy, with the first patient said to be recovering. It has been left up to the discretion of the doctor treating them to determine the appropriate treatments for the virus.

Mkhize said that all their contacts are being traced, to determine who they interacted with, adding that further action will be taken. The department is awaiting the results from the remaining tour group partners.

The tour group’s identities have not been revealed, only that they are:

  • A 38 year old man from Hilton;
  • The wife of the first patient if Hilton;
  • A 39 year old woman from Gauteng;
  • A 38 year old man from the uMgungundlovu area;
  • A 38 year old woman from the uMgungundlovu area;
  • A 45 year old man in the area of Pietermaritzburg;
  • A 38 year old man in the area of Pietermaritzburg.

“It should be noted that these people travelled as couples, and we already asked them to be quarantined, as soon as the first the case was discovered,” Mkhize said.

In terms of the other coronavirus situations relating to South Africa, the minister said that various departments are at the moment discussing various issues of concern – among those is the case of people moving from high transmission areas, and the concerns around major conferences and sporting events.

“At the moment we do not have any specific decision on these matters – however, after the ministers have finalised various issues, announcements will come out from specific departments with approval from the presidency,” he said.

A number of stakeholder meetings are ongoing – specifically in industries like tourism – where the impacts and plans forward are being discussed.

The evacuation of the South Africans in Wuhan province in China is on course, he said, with the plan moving ahead as agreed.

“From where we sit, we are scanning people inflight, from where the risk is coming from. Screening is happening at airports,” Mkhize said.

To date over 111,600 cases have been reported, with 3,884 deaths, while 62,683 patients have recovered.

Almost 100 countries and territories have now confirmed cases, and dozens of deaths have occurred in Italy, Iran and South Korea.

Read: Coronavirus, Moody’s and recession – what this means for the rand

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