MORE than 300 people have been tested for the coronavirus, while another 18, who were in contact with the only diagnosed South African, have been quarantined, SA Health minister Zweli Mkhize said yesterday.
He was speaking at the Cowan House Preparatory School in Hilton, KwaZulu-Natal, where government officials and the National Institute for Communicable Diseases met with parents whose children attend the school.
During the meeting, Mkhize denounced fake news, fake social media posts and alarmists who have sent panic throughout South Africa (SA).
“I would like to ask our people to desist from spreading fake news. We are now getting voice notes, I have seen reporters printing stories when they don’t have formal confirmation from (the) government.”He encouraged those who had contact with the only diagnosed patient from Hilton to come forward.
“Those who were in the vicinity of that individual when they came (via) Dubai, this is not to cause panic, we would encourage them to come forward so we can test them and treat them.”
Mkhize said not everyone who had contact with the patient would be sick.
“We don’t expect everyone who had contact with him to be infected, because the virus moves through water droplets that can only travel around 1.5m.
“There must not be any misunderstanding of information. We have just one case. One, nothing more than that,” he added.
NICD consultant pathologist Kerrigan McCarthy conceded the hotline had been inundated with calls and said this would be remedied.
Several media houses, including News24, made Mkhize aware that the lines were not working after a public outcry.
“My team is working to get more people to man telephone lines. Indeed, the hotlines have been swamped with phone calls.”
Mkhize said the 18 who were in the immediate vicinity of the infected man were being well-taken care of.
“They are all rounded up. They are 18 close contacts and all of them have been spoken to, tested and been requested to self-quarantine.”
He added plans to repatriate South Africans from Wuhan in China were in motion.
“That is still on course. We did say it would take seven to 10 days. There are a lot of supply chain issues and contractual obligations, details of flights and getting permission. We need to really make sure these things are impeccable.”
He said the SA National Defence Force would handle the logistics of bringing the group of about 184 people back home.
SOURCE — News24