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Health officials attempt to allay fears around COVID19

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Since the news that the coronavirus has breached the shores of South Africa, the country’s health officials have promptly taken action. But, now the questions begs whether the province is as ready to deal with a sudden surge in cases of the deadly virus.

Speaking to VOC on Friday, the incoming head of the Western Cape Health Department Keith Cloete stated that everyone in the province is on high alert following the announcement by the Health Minister Zweli Mkhize of the first positive case of the coronavirus. The 38-year-old man apparently tested positive after returning to KwaZulu-Natal from a holiday in Italy with his wife.

Addressing a press conference, Health Minister Zweli Mkhize confirmed that the patient in question has been taken to Grace hospital for further assessment. Only one case in SA has been confirmed and reported cases in other provinces are fake news.

There are no positive Co-Vid 19 cases in the Western Cape to date but Cloete reiterated the importance of implementing the use of a contact list if the need arises.

“Once the first case is confirmed it is very important to inform all those that have been in close contact [with the infected patient], and to isolate these individuals so the spread of the virus can be contained,” said Cloete.

Cloete stated that 36 people have already been tested for the virus in the province. He continued to reassure citizens that officials are prepared and urged locals to remain calm.

“We are very much are ready,” said Cloete.

Subsequently, Cowan House Prep School in KwaZulu-Natal has closed for the day following the identification of the 38-year-old man who had tested positive for the virus as one of its parents. School principal Derek Braams is quoted as saying the 38-year-old man’s two children attend the school. Braams admitted that the National Institute of Communicable Diseases’ (NICD) advised that the closure was not necessary.

“We have a joint operation centre, where all departments are involved and as of now, the education department has decided that there is no need for schools to close,” said Cloete.

Cloete said the closing of schools will only become necessary if the virus cannot be contained like is the call of action in different countries.

“We have not reached that stage, not here or in KZN,” asserted Cloete.

Finally, Cloete reiterates that there is no need to ring the alarm unless you have made direct contact with someone who has tested positive for the coronavirus.

“If you have been in contact with someone that has a recent travel history, and that is displaying flu like symptoms and has tested positive for the virus then you can assume differently,” said Cloete.


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