We’ve been monitoring the latest developments with the coronavirus and its spread across the world. Although incidents outside of China have been limited, at least 10 countries have had a reported case of the deadly disease. Health officials have been quick to ease fears in South Africa, though.
Border security improved in SA
Popo Maja is a spokesperson for the health department. He has confirmed that all provinces in Mzansi have “outbreak response teams” in place, and revealed that travellers arriving from Asia and China who land in South Africa, are now under “enhanced surveillance”:
“South Africans are assured that measures are in place to detect, manage and contain any cases of novel coronavirus should it come to our shores. Provinces have activated outbreak response teams and are on high alert to detect and manage inadvertent cases that may arrive in the country.
“So far, there are no suspected cases reported in this country. However, due to the current risk of importation of inadvertent cases of 2019-nCoV from Wuhan City, China, port health authorities have enhanced surveillance of all travellers from Asia – especially from China”
Is there a chance the coronavirus could hit South Africa?
Some experts believe it is an “eventuality” that the coronavirus will arrive in South Africa. That’s because we have established travel links with China, as well as the countries of Australia and the USA – where a number of other cases have been detected. But movement between SA and China still remains fluid:
- OR Tambo (Joburg) and Cape Town International airports are the only ports of entry with direct flights from Asia.
- Perhaps surprisingly, the World Health Organisation has not recommended any restriction of travel or trade with China.
- South Africans are still free to travel to China – and Wuhan – as long as they avoid contact with animals and observe basic hygiene.
Where has the coronavirus spread to?
The National Institute for Communicable Diseases also shared some facts and figures on the matter:
“We would like to assure South Africans that South Africa is prepared to deal with the eventuality of a possible imported case as we have put in place systems to rapidly identify, detect and respond to any cases that may reach our borders. Exactly 1 985 cases have been reported from China.
“Meanwhile, 29 confirmed cases have been reported outside of China, in 10 countries. It’s believed 26 of these had a travel history from Wuhan. One case in Australia had direct contact with a confirmed case from Wuhan. Antoher case in Australia was reported today, too. Elsewhere, a patient in Vietnam has picked the virus up from his father, who returned home after visiting Wuhan.”