NEIGHBOURING South Africa yesterday announced that second case of the deadly coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic had been discovered in the Gauteng province.
The first case was confirmed on Thursday.
South Africa’s Health minister, Zwelini Mkhize, announced the latest case, saying the patient was a 39-year-old lady who was in direct contact with the first confirmed patient who is from the KwaZulu-Natal province. The two were part of a group of 10 people who recently travelled to Italy from South Africa. Italy is one of the most affected countries after China. Italy has so far reported 4636 cases and 197 deaths while China has so far reported 80 651 cases and 3070 deaths by yesterday.
“The Minister of Health wishes to advise all South Africans that a second case of COVID-19 has now been confirmed in South Africa,” Dr Mkhize said in a statement yesterday.
“The 39-year-old lady who is from Gauteng is a direct contact to the first case from KwaZulu-Natal. She was part of the group of 10 that had travelled to Italy.
“The public must be notified that we have information and know the whereabouts of all the other 10 people who were part of the group that had travelled to Italy. All those who came back to South Africa, are currently being tested. We are now awaiting their test results to come out. Since being traced, they have remained in isolation to avoid any further contact with third parties.
“The second patient who has now tested positive for COV-19 will now be immediately admitted to a public health facility in Gauteng that government has identified as one of the hospitals that are ready to receive COVID-19 positive patients. We are now following all the protocols that we have already publicly announced to the public in dealing with this case. We will keep the public fully informed on all relevant developments.”
Dr Mkhize also revealed that the South African embassy in South Korea had informed them that another South African citizen who works in Daegu, South Korea had also tested positive for COVID-19.
“He (South African citizen) was due to return to South Africa and has since remained in South Korea. We are now following up with the South Korean authorities firstly to obtain formal confirmation of this case and also the details of where our citizen is being treated,” added Dr Mkhize.
On 31 December 2019, the WHO was alerted to several cases of pneumonia in Wuhan City, Hubei Province of China. A week later, on 7 January 2020, Chinese authorities confirmed that they had identified a novel Coronavirus- a new strain that had not been previously identified in human beings. At least 213 people in the China have died from the virus.
Symptoms of the virus include a running nose, headaches, coughing, sore throat, fever, shortness of breath, breathing difficulties and a general feeling of being unwell.
The ministry said the virus can be particularly dangerous to the elderly and infants as it may affect the respiratory tract.
It is widely believed that the first Chinese nationals contracted the COVID-19 after eating infected meat of wild animals or seafood.
According to the World Health Organisation (WHO) website, the death toll from COVID-19 had reached 3522 by yesterday with 103 811 cases reported worldwide. However, WHO says 58 457 patients in different countries have recovered.
Despite the outbreak of the virus on Lesotho’s doorstep, health authorities in Lesotho say they are in control of the situation and have asked the public not to panic.
The Health ministry’s International Health Regulations Manager, Khotso Mahomo, yesterday told the Sunday Express that they were “continuing with our normal screening exercises at all points of entry into Lesotho and if we detect any suspect, the person will be sent to a quarantine facility”.
Mr Mahomo said the ministry had trained and deployed manpower with screening kits to the borders to test for the disease.
“We are on top of the situation and we are not sleeping. Yesterday (Friday) I travelled to Bloemfontein through the Maseru Bridge border post where I was screened for COVID-19 on both the South African and the Lesotho sides,” he said.
WHO regulations state that once a person arrives from a country affected by COVID-19, they are screened for symptoms of the disease and immediately asked quarantine themselves for 14 days during which they are monitored by health officials.
Rumours of a COVID-19 outbreak in Lesotho surfaced on social media on Tuesday with the publication of a report, purportedly from Health Minister Nkaku Kabi, claiming that Lesotho had a confirmed its first COVID-19. However, the ministry said the statement was false.
Mr Mahomo said the report was fraudulently drafted on the ministry’s letterhead by unscrupulous individuals who wanted to tarnish the efforts being made to contain the virus.
?The Director General in the Ministry of Health, Dr Nyane Letsie, said the ministry was worried by the false report.
“This false alarm has unfortunately disrupted the efforts of the Government of Lesotho especially in the field of risk communication for responding to COVID-19…The Ministry of Health reassures the public that there is no confirmed case of COVID-19 in Lesotho,” Dr Letsie said.