UPDATE: Contractor, quarantined staff cleared of coronavirus, says Absa

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An Absa contractor who was tested for coronavirus tested negative, Absa said on Friday. 

Staff who had self-quarantined after coming into contact with the contractor have also been cleared to return to work. 

"Further to the notification we provided yesterday, Absa wishes to convey to the public that we have been informed that the results for individual who was tested for Covid-19 have come back negative. This outcome has been reported to the National Institute for Communicable Diseases (NICD) in line with stipulated guidelines," Absa said in a statement.  

"All Absa colleagues who had been in contact with the individual, and who were also requested to self-isolate as a precautionary measure, will also be cleared to return to work."

Absa introduced precautionary measures to prevent the spread of the virus at its headquarters in Johannesburg, after a contractor from Spain displayed "flu-like" symptoms.

The group on Thursday issued a statement that several of its employees had been placed in self-quarantine after having come into contact with the contractor at the Absa Towers West.

"Absa became aware of a contractor from Spain, who has been on our premises since Tuesday, 10 March 2020, who reported to our health clinic at Absa Towers West in Johannesburg, complaining of flu-like symptoms," the group said in its statement.

The man was assisted by the Absa medical team to undergo the necessary testing procedures for Covid-19, in line with national guidelines. He has also been placed in immediate self-quarantine, Absa said.

"For some time, we have enhanced surveillance and monitoring of our own environment, including the symptoms Absa colleagues, contractors and visitors may be experiencing.

"We have been in contact with the individual's employer and they have put in place measures to assists him," the statement read.

Absa has also reported the suspected case to the National Institute for Communicable Diseases (NICD). "The steps taken above are also in line with the guidelines of the NICD," the group added.

"We would like to emphasise that the measures taken are purely precautionary by way of being proactive given the risks involved… These precautionary measures are taken to protect the health of colleagues, their families and the community," Absa said.

Earlier this week German software company SAP took a decision to close its offices for two days after becoming aware that two of its employees had come into contact with a person confirmed to be infected with the virus, Fin24 previously reported. SAP said that it does not have a confirmed case, but was just taking precautionary measures.

There are now 17 confirmed cases of coronavirus in the country – they have been reported in Gauteng, KwaZulu-Natal, Western Cape and Mpumalanga. The first positive case was reported last week, after a man from Hilton, KwaZulu-Natal returned from a trip to Italy. He was part of a group of 10 people who returned to South Africa on 1 March, News24 reported.

The World Health Organisation has since announced that it has become a pandemic. The outbreak has wreaked havoc in markets, triggering a massive sell-offs over the uncertainty.

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