Picture: KATERYNA KOM/123RF
Picture: KATERYNA KOM/123RF

Health Minister Zweli Mhize convened an urgent meeting of the National Health Council on Saturday evening, as the number of confirmed cases of Covid-19 rose to 51, he said on Sunday morning.

The meeting agreed that contact tracing needed to be speeded up, and concluded within 48 hours, to minimise the further spread of the virus, he said. Covid-19 is potentially lethal respiratory illness caused by a new coronavirus called SARS-CoV-2.

The National Health Council includes the minister, deputy minister, provincial heads of department, MEC’s for health and the military. “The purpose of the meeting was to discuss the latest situational analysis of each province as more cases COVID-19 cases are being confirmed,” the minister said in a statement.

So far all of SA’s Covid-19 cases appear to be imported, as all the patients have travelled to affected countries, and there is currently no evidence of local transmission.

President Cyril Ramaphosa has convened an emergency cabinet meeting, taking place on Sunday morning, and Nedlac is expected to meet to discuss the issue on Monday. Key issues to be considered include potential travel bans and restrictions on mass gatherings, as well as the affect of Covid-19 on the economy.

Covid-19 has raced about the globe since it first emerged in China in late December, and by Sunday morning the total number of cases had risen past 156 400, with 5800 deaths, in over 140 countries and regions, according to the Johns Hopkins tracker. Most cases of Covid-19 are mild, but it can cause severe and potentially lethal respiratory problems. The elderly, and people with underlying health conditions such as asthma and cardiovascular disease are at greatest risk.

Western Cape Premier Alan Winde said he would convene a special provincial cabinet meeting on Sunday afternoon, to co-ordinate the provincial governments' response to the decisions take by the cabinet.

“We are confronting COVID-19 together as a country and we must work together now more than ever,” he said in a statement.

“It is critical that we, working together with national government, and all our partners, do everything we can to stop the spread of this virus. "

Describing Covid-19 as an international crisis, he said SA must learn from other countries' experience.

What we know is that if we take steps now to stop the spread, we will be in a better position than if we don’t. This means difficult, but decisive action is needed now,” he said.

Mkhize provided details of the latest confirmed cases, which are as follows:

GAUTENG: 7

⁃A 60 year old male who had travelled to Iran.

⁃A 36 year old male who had travelled to the UK

⁃A 54 year old male who had travelled to Switzerland

⁃A 27 year old male who had travelled to the UK

⁃A 21 year old female who had travelled to Germany

⁃A 53 year old female who had travelled to Germany

⁃A 29 year old male who had travelled to Switzerland

WESTERN CAPE: 5

⁃A 35 year old female who had travelled to Germany and Austria

⁃A 42 year old female who had travelled to Spain, Switzerland and the UK

⁃A 50 year old male who had travelled to the Netherlands

⁃A 33 year old male who had travelled to Switzerland

⁃A 35 year old male who had travelled to Austria

KWAZULU-NATAL: 1

⁃A 34 year old male who had travelled to the UK

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