Intern in Presidency sent home following possible coronavirus exposure - report

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An intern working in the Presidency has been sent home as a precautionary measure after it was found that he may have come in contact with someone who has now tested positive for Covid-19.

SowetanLive reported on Friday that the staff member was sent home for self-isolation and testing, according to an internal email sent to staff at the Union Buildings on Thursday.

The email reportedly stated that the staff member had reported to his manager that he may have come in contact with someone who had tested positive for Covid-19, the illness caused by the novel coronavirus, SARS-CoV-2.

On Thursday, President Cyril Ramaphosa announced that 150 South Africans had tested positive for Covid-19 since the outbreak started in Wuhan, China, in December, News24 reported.

Health Minister Zweli Mkhize estimated that 60% to 70% of people in South Africa will contract the coronavirus, but only about 20% of those will be serious cases. He believes the number of positive cases will shoot up to more than 200 by Friday morning.

Worldwide more than 245 000 people have been infected and more than 10 000 people have died, according to the World Health Organisation (WHO).

Staffers urged to keep calm

Presidency spokesperson Khusela Diko confirmed the incident to SowetanLive and said the employee was an intern working in the office's finance unit.

"Yes, we can confirm that an intern in the finance unit in the presidency reported that he may have crossed paths with someone diagnosed with the coronavirus," Diko reportedly said.

"The employee himself has not been diagnosed with the virus nor is he exhibiting any symptoms thereof."

He would only be allowed to go back to work after testing and observing the prescribed 14-day quarantine period.

The email reportedly urged staff to keep calm as there were no confirmed cases in the office. It said should any of them display symptoms of the virus, they should immediately call a staff nurse, who would take their temperature and advise on further action.

To stay abreast of News24's rolling coverage on the Covid-19 outbreak, follow this link to our dedicated coronavirus site.

Stay up to date and stay healthy. Subscribe to Health24’s Daily Dose newsletter for important updates on the spread of the coronavirus. Register and manage your newsletters in the new News24 app by clicking on the Profile tab.

 - Compiled by Riaan Grobler

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