Health minister Zweli Mkhize addresses the media on the coronavirus outbreak in SA. Picture: ANTHONY MOLYNEAUX
Health minister Zweli Mkhize addresses the media on the coronavirus outbreak in SA. Picture: ANTHONY MOLYNEAUX

The total number of confirmed cases of coronavirus cases in SA has risen to 24, and more cases are awaiting confirmation, health minister Zweli Mkhize said on Friday.

He appealed to the media and the public not to share information about coronavirus cases, and to leave it to the health department to make the announcements.

Current testing protocol means coronavirus tests conducted at private laboratories must be confirmed by the National Health Laboratory Service and the National Institute for Communicable Disease.

Mkhize said eight new cases had been confirmed since Thursday's announcement of 16 cases, all of whom had travelled overseas. The fact that all the cases so far are imported is important, as it signals there is so far no local transmission of the highly contagious virus. The novel coronavirus causes a potentially severe respiratory disease called Covid-19.

The new cases are in Gauteng, KwaZulu-Natal, and Western Cape, and are as follows:

Gauteng:

• A 39-year-old female who had travelled to Switzerland and Austria

• A 50-year-old male who had travelled to Austria

• A 21-year-old female who had travelled to Italy

• A 57-year-old male who had travelled to Switzerland

KwaZulu-Natal:

• A 79-year-old male who had travelled to Greece and Italy

• A 52-year-old male who had travelled to Switzerland

Western Cape:

• A 50-year-old male who had travelled to Switzerland and Austria

• A 46-year-old male who had travelled to Italy

Mkhize said the patients had been informed, and contact tracing was under way.

“At this point I wish to also bring it to your attention that there are more positive results that have come out. The NICD and NHLS are now verifying the information and these results. Thereafter we will make a formal announcement,” he said.

The rapid spread of the virus in the three months since it emerged in China has battered financial markets and disrupted global trade and travel, as an increasing number of countries take drastic measures to try to slow its march. The World Health Organisation declared it a pandemic on Wednesday, saying it was alarmed by the speed and scale of transmission, and the inaction of some countries.

By Friday, the number of confirmed cases of Covid-19 had topped 135,000. It had reached 120 countries and territories, and more than 4,900 deaths had been recorded.

kahnt@businesslive.co.za