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

2020-03-05 19:39

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

He said the confirmation within South Africa's borders would have a huge effect and South Africans needed to be prepared.

The president, however, said a possible spread of the disease could have serious effects on the economy and tourism. 

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

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.

Ramaphosa was addressing media on Thursday. "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."

Ramaphosa added he had told Health Minister Zweli Mkhize to inform the nation of the first confirmed case to avoid the spread of fake news and to have a level of transparency about the virus. 

He said South Africans should not panic and promised they would be kept abreast of all developments related to Covid-19.

"We revealed this immediately so there isn't panic, South Africans should not panic.

"The government will demonstrate its seriousness in terms of dealing with matter, and we will continue to be transparent and at the same time we want South Africans not to panic. 

"We will handle this with the necessary care and capability that it requires."

Earlier on Thursday, Mkhize said the National Institute for Communicable Diseases had confirmed its first positive test for the coronavirus. 

While it was not clear at which port of entry the patient entered, he added a tracer team had been deployed to KwaZulu-Natal. The man is now self-isolated at home.

"The patient is a 38-year-old male who travelled to Italy with his wife. They were part of a group of 10 people who arrived back in South Africa on 1 March," Mkhize said in a statement.

He added the man had consulted a private doctor on 3 March after showing symptoms of a fever, headache, malaise, sore throat and cough.

News24 reported the Emergency Operating Centre had identified the people he had been in contact with by interviewing the patient and doctor.

Read more on:    cyril ramaphosa  |  pretoria  |  coronavirus
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