SA's first coronavirus patient ready to be discharged - KZN Premier Sihle Zikalala

The first South African who contracted the coronavirus is doing well and ready to go home, KwaZulu-Natal Premier Sihle Zikalala said in Pietermaritzburg on Wednesday.

"We can say without any doubt that patient zero, who contracted the virus first, is recovering and he is ready to be discharged. More than 80% of the people who were infected [globally] are now healthy and back in their communities. With us, we believe it will be the same," he added.

Zikalala said this after the KZN provincial executive council held a special meeting to focus on implementing guidelines brought about after President Cyril Ramaphosa declared a state of national disaster.

He added the province was ready to deal with the virus that had now infected 116 people, including 19 in KZN.

On 5 March, South Africa confirmed its first case of the coronavirus, a 38-year-old man from Hilton who had gone on holiday in Italy with his wife and eight friends.

The man, his wife -the third South African to be diagnosed with coronavirus - and their two children had all been isolated in their home before he was transferred to Grey's Hospital in Pietermaritzburg.

Command team and plans

Zikalala said a provincial command team would be established to focus on various districts in the province to manage the spread of the virus.

"We will make sure that nothing falls through the cracks with the implementation of our plan. We are working out a resource strategy to need to mobilise to support interventions."

Health MEC Nomagugu Simelane-Zulu told journalists new protocols would be put in place for queues at government buildings.

"There must be at least a distance of 1 to 1.5 metres between people. We are working on protocols so that queuing systems are going to be managed differently. We have started at different facilities, including our clinics."

Zikalala also commented on an MSC cruise ship that left port earlier this week, seemingly ignoring Ramaphosa's declaration that no more than 100 people should gather in one place.

READ | MSC Cruises in SA to cancel remaining trips for the season

"They have been in touch with us and said they will follow processes. They said that, from Friday, they will not operate, and they will offer one of their ships for services in support of the government if we want to accommodate them or use it, they will offer that."

He said the ship leaving port was a communication mishap.

"We are in touch with them, they understand, it was a question of communication."

Zikalala added "protocol would be observed" and the ship's passengers would be tested for the coronavirus.

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