Passengers arrive from Hong Kong at Cape Town International Airport on January 29 2020. Picture: ESA ALEXANDER/SUNDAY TIMES
Passengers arrive from Hong Kong at Cape Town International Airport on January 29 2020. Picture: ESA ALEXANDER/SUNDAY TIMES

Coronavirus, which has claimed hundreds of lives in China, has hit the Philippines, which reported its first death on Sunday, spurring fear of  spreading contagion.

The coronavirus death toll had climbed to more than 300 with more than 14,000 people infected by Sunday. The virus which caused an outbreak of respiratory illness was first detected in the Chinese city of Wuhan.

With the number of cases rising daily, some countries have restricted entry to travellers from China as more cases outside the country emerge. The travel restrictions have started to have a financial impact on tourist destinations that are reliant on the inflow of Chinese tourists including hotels, casinos and luxury stores, Bloomberg reports.

The Philippines department of health confirmed on Sunday that its first victim, who came from Wuhan, died at a hospital in Manila after developing severe pneumonia, Reuters reports. Since the outbreak gained momentum last month, cases have been reported in the US, Russia, Japan and Europe.

The DA on Sunday called for a debate of national importance on the coronavirus so that health minister Zweli Mkhize could address parliament on how his department  is preparing to deal with the virus should it come to SA. The DA said Mkhize should be accompanied by international relations and co-operation minister Naledi Pandor to assure South Africans that adequate  measures have been put in place, including border control. One suspected case of  the coronavirus was reported in Botswana on Friday.

“It is now clear that the emergency protocols we have put in place may not be enough to prevent the virus from entering our borders, and that stricter measures need to be put in place at all our ports of entry, nationwide,” said the DA. “It is now also critical that all airports and other transport hubs be prepared for the advent of the spread of this virus.

“We cannot be too cautious on this matter as millions of citizen lives may be in danger.”

SA manufacturer U-Mask has donated a consignment of medical masks to China with the help of the Chinese embassy in SA to help curb the spread of the virus in the world’s second-largest economy. China’s ambassador to SA, Lin Songtian, is expected to brief the media about the virus  at the Chinese embassy on Monday.

mjoo@businesslive.co.za