South Africa president Cyril Ramaphosa has stressed that the country will handle its first coronavirus case with all the seriousness, care and transparency required.
He also stressed the need for citizens not to panic despite the news that the rampaging epidemic had finally breached the nation’s borders. Ramaphosa was speaking to the press at the Waterkloof Airforce base in Tshwane.
“I would like to applaud the capability of the National Institute of Communicable Diseases for having acted very quickly and swiftly informing the Minister who in turn informed me,” Ramaphosa said.
Ramaphosa also ordered that the information be made via parliament in order to avoid the possible spread of fake news.
“I was impressed with the level of preparedness in terms of being able to identify what it is and immediately having the person isolated, so we are gearing up more and more as a country,” Ramaphosa added.
“Government will demonstrate seriousness in terms of dealing with this matter and we will continue to be transparent, at the same time we want South Africans not to panic because we will continue to ensure that we handle this matter with the necessary care and capability that it requires.”
— PresidencyZA (@PresidencyZA) March 5, 2020
South Africa became the first southern African country to record a case of the novel coronavirus via a 38-year-old male who travelled to Italy, the health ministry announced.
The patient and his wife were part of a group of 10 people who arrived back in South Africa on March 1. South Africa is the third sub-Saharan Africa country to record a case after Nigeria and Senegal.
“We confirmed the existence of a patient who has tested positive for the COVID-19 virus for the first time in the country and this patient was identified in the province of KwaZulu-Natal,” Zweli Mkhize, South African Health Minister said.
Italy has emerged as the European hotspot for the deadly virus with the national death toll at 107, the deadliest outbreak outside China.
South Africa is preparing to repatriate 184 of its citizens — comprising students, teachers and other professionals working in China’s Wuhan province, the epicentre of the epidemic.
The government’s information department also announced that two South Africans working on the cruise ship Diamond Princess who had initially tested positive for the virus, “have now tested negative and will shortly be making their way home.”