Health minister Zweli Mkhize has reassured South Africans that the national health department has enough contingency measures in place to properly deal with the coronavirus outbreak.
Mkhize was briefing media on Wednesday on SA’s preparedness to deal with the virus that has plagued China.
“South Africa has not reported or suspected cases to date. Research into the epidemiology of the virus or natural history of the virus is ongoing.”
Mkhize said there was a suspected case in Zambia, but reassured that the National Institute for Communicable Diseases was closely monitoring developments.
“South Africa has responded rapidly to ensure that the coronavirus does not become a national threat. As a department, it is standard procedure to monitor emergent outbreaks and we are currently tracking a plethora of pathogens, including those viruses of pandemic potential.”
Reuters reported that Wuhan, the Chinese city of 11 million people where the virus emerged late last year, was now under effective lockdown. Footage shared on China’s Twitter-like Weibo social media platform showed residents of apartment compounds in the city chanting “Wuhan, you can do it!” and singing the national anthem out of their windows.
More than 100 people have died from the virus and more than 4,500 have been infected.
The virus was suspected to be zoonotic (originating from animals). Mkhize said current evidence indicated that the recent outbreak had been spreading from human to human.