Corona shockwave spreads

2020-03-10 14:15
Coronavirus. (Photo: Getty Images)

Coronavirus. (Photo: Getty Images)

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Four new positive Covid-19 cases announced on Monday as being from Pietermaritzburg and uMgungundlovu area appear not to be from the region and have been admitted to Addington Hospital in Durban.

The Health Department would not confirm the details in spite of widespread community panic “because [they] do not want to cause panic”.

However, The Witness has it on good authority that the new cases are not from the Pietermaritzburg area.

They are all part of the group of 10 who travelled to Italy on a skiing holiday. Thus far seven of the 10 have tested positive; while the one member has not returned to South Africa.

Department of Health media liasion officer Dr Lwazi Manzi said she could only confirm that the four patients were from KZN and did not want to specify areas and fuel panic.

Speaking to The Witness just before they were taken to hospital yesterday afternoon, one of them, a 38-year-old man confirmed they had been tested on Saturday and they all live in Durban.

The man, who is in the financial industry, said they were all “feeling fine” and were asymptomatic since their return from Livigno in northern Italy.

“We’ve had no symptoms. We were tested at the airports and given the all-clear. We’ve been absolutely fine with not even a fever. We’re at the back end of it now if you look at the time period that has lapsed from February 21 to now. We are all in good spirits and will do what needs to be done to contain this,” said the man.

He confirmed they had given a list of all the people they had been in contact with — 65 in all — to government and those people have been tested.

Meanwhile, Patient Zero, in Pietermaritzburg, who has been in quarantine at a local hospital since last Thursday, was finally joined in hospital on Monday afternoon by his wife (who has also tested positive) and their two children (who have tested negative).

“It’s been a whirlwind day. The kids and my wife have finally joined me. It’s very special to have them here,” said the Hilton man.

Dispelling rumours that he was about to be discharged, he said he still required two negative results.

“Hopefully I will get the first [this morning] and then we need 48 hours to lapse and have another test. If that second test result is clear, then I can be discharged,” he said.

With no idea how they contracted the virus, the man said when they left for Italy on February 21, there was no major outbreak there.

The first two reported cases were on January 31 and then in early February, an Italian man repatriated to Italy from the city of Wuhan, China, was hospitalised and confirmed to be the third case.

A cluster of cases were later detected, starting with 16 confirmed cases in Lombardy province (where Livigno is) on February 21, an additional 60 cases on February 22 and Italy’s first deaths reported on the same day.

“The outbreak in the Lombardy province in Italy only occurred while we were already there and so at the time of departure we were unaware of the potential exposure / risk unfortunately,” said the patient.

He said while all the group members had travelled together they had all stayed in different hotels in Livigno.

“We have absolutely no idea how we contracted the virus,” said the man.

Mkhize at the press briefing said there has been no call by government to close schools. However, should schools decide to close this would be an “ad-hoc situation”.

Travel bans have also not been implemented in South Africa. Mkhize stressed that testing is done on people arriving from outside South Africa at all ports of entry into the country. These include scans, in-flight inspections and a questionnaire for incoming international arrivals as well as some domestic flights. The minister said plans to evacuate 180 South Africans in Wuhan, China, are still under way.

WHO Director-General Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said on Monday: “Now that the virus has a foothold in so many countries, the threat of a pandemic has become very real.”

National Institute for Communicable Diseases (NICD) spokesperson Sinenhlanhla Jimoh said while the NICD has been doing the testing for Covid-19; the testing was now being expanded to NHLS and private laboratories.

Cowan House Preparatory School in Hilton, which closed its doors as a precautionary measure after Patient Zero’s children attended there last Monday, will re-open on Tuesday.

School head Derek Braans and chairperson of the board Andrew Barnes said in a letter to parents that pupils’ temperatures will be checked and they will be given hand sanitiser, and that the school had been deep-cleaned.

Patient Zero’s workplace, Crickmay and Associates in Hilton, is still closed while staff are tested for Covid-19.

Staff are working from home and no one has tested positive, said director Luke McNally.

Hilton doctor Robyn Reed who Patient Zero consulted last Tuesday, and her staff, have tested negative and remain in self-isolation.“

Read more on:    pietermaritzburg  |  coronavirus
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