32 tests for coronavirus in Western Cape all negative - health department

2020-03-02 18:41

The Western Cape has had a total of 32 suspected cases of the coronavirus, all of which have tested negative, the provincial health department said on Monday.

While the country currently had no confirmed cases of the coronavirus, it was following international protocol and has developed and distributed clinical guidelines and case definitions to doctors and nurses in both the public and private sectors, it confirmed in a statement.

"The department has world-class systems and facilities, which have been tried and tested in the past, and we are doing everything possible to ensure that we are fully prepared for any scenario."

The department participates in the provincial joint operations command centre, as part of provincial Disaster Management, and should a COVID-19 case be confirmed, "much effort will be directed towards containing this case and following up contacts".

"Should multiple cases be confirmed in the province at community level, the command centre will be fully activated, and daily liaison will take place about protecting citizens and managing patients.

"Other partners will also be represented and decisions will be coordinated from that command centre, as per Disaster Management protocol. The situation will be monitored in a similar way as large fires or the water crisis. The province has a good history with successful management of these situations."

READ | Coronavirus enigma: Experts ask why Africa seems to have few cases

On Sunday, an Inter-Ministerial Committee assigned with the repatriation and quarantine of South Africans in Wuhan, China, detailed how this process would work and what plans were in place to prevent the spread of the virus in South Africa.

Of the 201 South Africans in Wuhan, 16 have elected not to come back home while 151 indicated they wanted to return. The remaining South Africans were still being contacted.

People should follow their normal routine for health services

The repatriation process, expected to take between 7 and 10 days to complete, will be based on the guidelines of the World Health Organisation and will be implemented in three phases: evacuation, quarantine and reunification.

The provincial health department urged people to follow their normal route to access health services through their local health facility.

"If a person presents to a health facility and matches the criteria, it is standard procedure to isolate them in a suitable room/unit for assessment, apply infection prevention and control measures. This is done at all health facilities.

"The facility will then contact the Infectious Disease Specialist/Virologist at Tygerberg or Groote Schuur Hospital. Following the assessment and if required, a test will be done and sent to the National Institute for Communicable Diseases (NICD) for analysis. This laboratory is the only laboratory which can confirm COVID-19."

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The department was working with, among others, City Health, the private sector, the national health department, port health services and the Airports Company South Africa to ensure that the province was "ready to respond".

"Thermal scanning is in place at Cape Town International, as one of the monitoring tools. Provincial response preparations are characterised by weekly information sharing and daily consultations with our colleagues at NICD.

"Individual persons of interest/persons under investigation who are identified at the Points of Entry/Cape Town International Airport are managed by the provincial health operational command centre. Upon identification, they are taken to Tygerberg Hospital for monitoring and isolation."

Health MEC Nomafrench Mbombo urged the public to trust the province's preparedness and readiness and not share fake or misleading information.

ALSO READ | Covid19: SA citizens in Wuhan heading back home - how ready is SA?

Read more on:    western cape  |  health  |  coronavirus
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