Picture: GALLO IMAGES/ AFP BERND THISSEN
Picture: GALLO IMAGES/ AFP BERND THISSEN

SA has confirmed its first case of coronavirus in a child, a 14-year old from the Western Cape.

The teen is the youngest of 14 new cases announced by Health Minister Zweli Mkhize on Saturday afternoon, taking SA’s total to 38.

The novel coronavirus, which emerged in China in December, causes a potentially severe respiratory disease called Covid-19.

The number of cases in SA remains small, but has grown rapidly since the first patient was confirmed on March 5.

So far all the South African cases are among people who have travelled outside SA and there is no evidence of local transmission.

The new cases included 7 in Gauteng, 6 in Western Cape and one in KwaZulu-Natal.

“In view of the rising numbers, President Cyril Ramaphosa has called for an urgent cabinet meeting to be held on Sunday. This meeting will explore ways of intensifying the country’s response to this outbreak,” Mkhize said in a statement.

Covid-19 has spread rapidly about the world in the past three months, and by Saturday afternoon there were more than 149 000 cases and 5600 deaths in 146 countries and territories, according to the Johns Hopkins tracker.

The new patients are as follows:

GAUTENG:  

• A 76 year old male who had travelled to the UK and the US.

• A 72 year old female who had travelled to the UK and the US.

• A 47 year old male who had travelled to the UK and the US.

• A 52 year old male who had travelled to Germany

• A 38 year old male who had travelled to the Netherlands and Germany

• A 62 year old male who had travelled to the Netherlands

• A 19 year old female who had travelled to France and Italy

WESTERN CAPE:

• A 27 year old male who had travelled to Brazil

• A 33 year old female who had travelled to France

• A 49 year old male who had travelled to France and Italy.

• A 14 year old female who had travelled to the US and Dubai

• A 73 year old male who had travelled to the UK

• A 32 year old male who had travelled to the UK.

KWAZULU-NATAL:

• A 47 year old male who had travelled to Switzerland

“The patients have now been informed, all information has been verified and contact tracing is under way,” said the Minister.   

In a separate statement issued shortly after the Minister’s announcement, the National Institute for Communicable Diseases (NICD) said it was streamlining the process for testing patients, and doctors would no longer needed to contact it for approval before ordering tests as long as they applied its case definition (the criteria used to decide whether an individual is a potential coronavirus case). Its move is in anticipation of an increased demand for tests.

The NICD said it would test samples provided  they were submitted with the supporting documents detailed on its website.

Mkhize said the South African citizens who had been repatriated from Wuhan, China, had arrived safely in SA on Saturday morning. They are now under quarantine at the Ranch Protea Hotel in Polokwane. An update on their arrival would be provide on Sunday, he said.

kahnt@businesslive.co.za

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