RUNDOWN | Coronavirus strikes in SA: What we know about the KZN father infected with the virus

2020-03-05 20:59

The first confirmed coronavirus victim has been revealed to be a 38-year-old father of two who had returned from Italy, where he was with a group of 10 people.


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Last Updated at 09:05
05 Mar 21:18

Coronavirus victim is a KZN father of 2 - what we know so far

The first confirmed coronavirus victim is a 38-year-old who had returned from Italy.

Health Minister Dr Zweli Mkhize said on Thursday that the man, whose identity is withheld but who is understood to be quarantined in Hilton, KwaZulu-Natal, arrived in the country on 1 March.

Here are 9 things we know about the person who has contracted the virus:

1. He is a 38-year-old male;

2. He is a South African citizen, residing in KwaZulu-Natal;

3. He is married, with two children, who are now in quarantine;

4. He was in a group of 10 people in Italy, presumably on holiday;

5. He arrived in South Africa at OR Tambo International Airport, and from there flew to Durban, on 1 March;

6. At the time he didn't present with the coronavirus symptoms;

7. On 3 March the man consulted a private general practitioner, with symptoms of fever, headache, malaise, a sore throat and not much of a cough;

8. He has been self-isolating since 3 March;

9. News24 understands his doctor and his family are also in quarantine. 

05 Mar 20:39

'Coronavirus heaps pressure on Zweli Mhkize'

Health Minister Zweli Mkhize is already under fire for huge delivery and efficiency gaps in South Africa's state hospitals and the coronavirus crisis will physically put a strain on a state-health sector already heavily stretched,  writes Daniel Silke.

Clearly, the immediate danger of further cases and any extension of the virus beyond imported cases to internal transmission poses extreme dangers to poorer communities in particular.  

But there is a political aspect to this that adds even more pressure.

At the same time as Covid-19 arrives on our shores, Mkhize is trying to sell National Health Insurance to South Africa.

Amid a decline in State capacity in public health, the extension of NHI has been controversial with many believing that lack of capacity, skills and infrastructure can derail health care even further should it be implemented.   

05 Mar 20:34

05 Mar 20:34

05 Mar 20:22

South Africa confirms first case of coronavirus but experts say it’s unlikely to spread

South Africa's summer might help to slow down the spread of the virus because of Covid-19's inability to survive in high temperatures, explains Shaheen Mehtar, who leads the national health department's coronavirus infection prevention and control programme.

"The virus is very sensitive to heat," she explains, "so [our current] temperatures are basically too high for the virus."

She says: "Even if one or two people get infected the spread of it is not going to be very good because the virus doesn't like heat."

Currently, scientists think that when the virus leaves the body — for instance, when people cough, propelling droplets of virus-carrying saliva onto their hands or surfaces — Covid-19 dies in temperatures of about 24°C or 25°C.

05 Mar 20:09

The Institute of Race Relations has written to the chair of the Ad Hoc Committee on Amending Section 25 of the Constitution to suspend and postpone all the committee’s planned public hearings.

"It is vitally important that these public hearings should immediately be halted and postponed until such time as South Africa's health services are confident of their capacity to limit the transmission of this highly contagious virus and so prevent a Covid-19 pandemic in the country," reads part of the letter.   

05 Mar 19:59

ICYMI | 'We will handle this' - Ramaphosa on coronavirus in SA

President Cyril Ramaphosa has tried to quell any hysteria after the first coronavirus case in the country.

"We will keep informing South Africans openly and transparently about the steps we are taking. It will turn out to be a national crisis and we do need to keep our people informed. The effect is going to be big and South Africans need to be prepared," said the president.

South Africa recorded its first case of the deadly virus on Thursday. The infected is a KwaZulu-Natal man who is now in quarantine. His family and his private doctor is also in quarantine.

The man had arrived from visiting Italy, and experienced symptoms some days later.

05 Mar 19:50

To focus on facts not fear, the National Institute For Communicable Disease's Prof Cheryl Cohen gives tips on how to prevent Covid19:

05 Mar 19:08

05 Mar 18:43

UPDATE | First case of Covid-19 announced

The Minister of Health, on 05 March 2020, made an official announcement of a local confirmed COVID-19 case in South Africa, of a 38-year old man from KwaZulu-Natal who travelled to Italy.  The National Institute for Communicable Diseases (NICD), a division of the National Health Laboratory Service, wishes to clarify that the COVID-19 indicates the strength of our surveillance and  South Africa’s health systems to be able to detect and rapidly identify cases.

The case has been isolated and containment measures are ongoing including the monitoring of contacts. It is important to note that the identification of a single imported case in a traveller from an area with widespread community transmission does not mean that COVID-19 is currently spreading in South African communities. The risk to the general community of acquiring COVID-19 remains low.

The NICD wishes to stress that the evidence available to date suggests that the vast majority of cases of COVID-19 (>80%) have mild illness and severe illness is predominantly in the elderly and those with underlying illnesses who are also at risk of other respiratory infections.

We urge South Africans to reduce the risk of acquiring COVID-19 and other respiratory infections by practising good hand hygiene: frequent correct hand washing, cough hygiene, staying at home when ill and keeping distance away from sick people with respiratory illness.

Moreover, the influenza season is approaching and the influenza vaccine will soon be widely available. The NICD wishes to encourage the public to get the influenza vaccine to reduce the chance of illness which may be confused with COVID-19 as influenza presents similar signs as COVID-19. The Influenza vaccine is especially recommended for individuals who fall into the risk groups for severe influenza illness which includes the elderly, those with underlying illness including HIV positive persons and pregnant women.

It is through the cooperation of healthcare workers and professionals in many other sectors that we will be able to contain and mitigate COVID-19 going forward.

05 Mar 17:17

05 Mar 17:15

In a debate that started minutes after the first infection of the novel coronavirus detected in South Africa was confirmed, opposition MPs called for greater transparency in government's handling of the pandemic and the spread of misinformation.


05 Mar 17:10

05 Mar 17:09

05 Mar 16:58

We will keep informing South Africans, says Ramaphosa.

"This will turn out to be a national crisis... and it will have huge impact on a number of things," says Ramaphosa as he elaborates on travel and the economy.

05 Mar 16:56

It was revealed to president just a few hours ago.

Ramaphosa: The health minister has been in constant contact with the WHO.

The help that we would need to get would be from the WHO. At the same time other countries who have gone through the processes of containing it.

We will also be in touch with a number of experts around the world.

05 Mar 16:54

We will continue to ensure that we handle this matter with the necessary care.

Ramaphosa says government will be on high alert.

05 Mar 16:53

South Africans should not panic, we should be alert.

The alertness in identifying the disease must be higher.

05 Mar 16:53

"This morning I was impressed with the level of preparedness in terms of being to identify what it (virus) is.

"We are gearing up more as a country," Ramaphosa says

05 Mar 16:51
Ramaphosa says he applauds the capability of the NICD and for having acted quickly and swiftly, and for alerting health Minister Zweli Mkhize.

05 Mar 16:50
Diagnosing and treating the virus as early as possible will be of great importance. Even more so if you fall into the higher risk categories based on age, existing chronic illnesses, and whether or not your are a smoker.

05 Mar 16:49
In a debate that started minutes after the first infection of the novel coronavirus detected in South Africa was confirmed, opposition MPs called for greater transparency in government's handling of the pandemic and the spread of misinformation.

05 Mar 16:46

05 Mar 16:45

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05 Mar 16:41

Mkhize says "for no let's just say it's KwaZulu-Natal" about where exactly in the province the person is.

He says he doesn't want to cause panic.

05 Mar 16:40

05 Mar 16:40

05 Mar 16:39
Ramaphosa has landed at Waterkloof about 30 minutes ago.

05 Mar 16:37

One of the hospitals has betweeen 27 and 30 beds. On average there are 20 to 30 beds per province, between 200 and 300 beds in the country.

Equipment will be moved around as needed.

05 Mar 16:35

"We are upping the stock," Mkhize says about protective gear.

He says that before there was a case of in South Africa there was a certain number of stock.

05 Mar 16:29
Mkhize says that they have not recommended any cancellations of any particular conferences.

05 Mar 16:29
Back in Parliament, Mkhize tells journalists that at this point they are not recommending any cancellations or bans on anything.

05 Mar 16:21
Mkhize clarifies that people are not quarantined in the identified hospitals. They are initially treated there, but quarantine happens elsewhere.

05 Mar 16:20
Journalists hear that 10 facilities have been identified specifically to deal with the virus.

05 Mar 16:18
Back at Parliament's Imbizo centre, the press briefing continues. Mkhize's colleagues are now taking more rounds of questions.

05 Mar 16:17
President Cyril Ramaphosa meanwhile has arrived at Waterkloof airforce base.

05 Mar 16:16
Mkhize: "Countries like Italy, who are talking about closing down schools, no what they are dealing with.

"The rapid spread in Italy has been noticed.

"But it doesn't mean that if we've got one case, we may fail to contain the infection.

"We can do that, we have seen a diligent approach and very strong precautionary measures can actually assist. So we'll take that approach. We know where the person could have been exposed to the virus.

"We know those who could have been exposed to him. We will seal that in a network and have them checked, and move on."

05 Mar 16:14
Mkhize now addresses a question on schools, taxi ranks and other public areas.

"To be honest, there hasn't been reports reports of South African schools, taxi ranks... All we've had is one person who has come from a country that has actually shown infection rate that is increasing, and has also shown people in different countries who have been in contact with their citizens there.

"So we need to focus our attention to areas that are identified as risk areas."

05 Mar 16:11

Mkhize: The individual landed on March 1 without any symptoms.

In that case, we are not worried that they have found to be positive after they have gone through our system.

That is what the incubation period is all about. There are times when the virus will not show any symptoms, but there might be times when the same virus... might then create ill health in you that can be detected.

05 Mar 16:09
He does however say that at this point they won't release names of any other people who are they looking at who may have exposed.

05 Mar 16:08
Mkhize has confirmed that the man is South African.

But, he says, "I am very concerned that we are creating a sense that he is a foreigner or non-foreigner and I think the media should be responsible...

"He landed at ORT and took another flight to KZN.

"Right now, what we normally do, if you have someone who we suspect, we actually test those of those in the row in front and row behind (of the plane), and we zoom into those particular ones.

"It's not difficult to find out who were those people."

05 Mar 16:06
Mkhize: "All the private laboratories, they do test. If somebody comes in with a respiratory tract infection symptoms, they test them up and exclude the common cold virus.

"If it is more than that, they then send it to us."

Mkhize says private practitioners are aware that there is a "next level" to escalate cases to government.

05 Mar 16:02
Mkhize and his team are now taking a second round of questions in Parliament's Imbizo centre.

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