coronavirus south africa

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Coronavirus outbreak: Symptoms, cause and how it’ll affect South Africa

Worried about the coronavirus coming to South Africa? According to our medical professionals, they have the situation under control. Here’s why…

coronavirus south africa

Photo: Envato Elements

An outbreak of disease originating from China that’s been compared to the deadly SARS virus has now been detected outside of Asia. The spread of this coronavirus is causing a global panic, and nowhere is immune from the spread of this deadly bacteria. However, South Africa is already thoroughly prepared for its arrival.

Coronavirus – what are the symptoms?

On 31 December 2019, the World Health Organisation’s China office reported a cluster of pneumonia cases in Wuhan City, Hubei Province in China. The cause was confirmed as a novel coronavirus (2019-nCoV)

Symptoms of novel coronavirus are fever and cough, with a few patients presenting with difficulty in breathing and bilateral infiltrates on chest X-rays. No specific therapy has worked as an effective treatment.

Everything we know about the disease so far:

  • SARS-like virus has killed 17 people in China, infected hundreds and reached as far as the United States
  • The pathogen appears to be a never-before-seen strain of coronavirus — a large family of viruses that can cause diseases ranging from the common cold to
  • Compared with SARS, the symptoms appear to be less aggressive, and experts say the death toll is still relatively low. However, the milder nature of the virus can also cause alarm.
  • It’s believed an animal source was the “primary source” of the outbreak, and Wuhan authorities identified a seafood market as the centre of the epidemic. We now understand it is being passed between humans.

How will the coronavirus affect South Africa?

Our last major viral outbreak was the Listeriosis outbreak of 2018. That was a domestic issue which claimed almost 200 lives over two years. Concerns have also been raised about the spread of Klebsiella in Gauteng’s hospitals. But when it comes to containing the coronavirus, our local authorities remain upbeat.

The National Institutite for Communicable Diseases (NICD) have released a statement, confirming what they’ve done to prepare for any reported cases in South Africa. They have briefed the medical professionals on how to treat these patients, and reminded the public that no coronavirus cases have been discovered in Mzansi as of Thursday 23 January 2020:

“The National Institute for Communicable Diseases (NICD) has put in place systems to rapidly identify and detect any imported cases in South Africa. As from 23 January, there have been no cases of the 2019-nCoV in South Africa or on the African continent. There’s been no transmission events from the exported cases.”

“We have distributed guidelines and definitions for doctors and nurses in our public and private sectors to better detect, identify and respond to a possible coronavirus outbreak. The cases reported from outside Wuhan had links in Wuhan, contact with a sick person in Wuhan worked, or visited a market in Wuhan.”


It’s also been revealed that port authorities – at all major points of entry into South Africa – have increased their checks on travellers coming from China and Asia. The “increased surveillance” will ensure that all rigorous checks on visitors from this region are completed, to drastically limit our chances of having the coronavirus land in Mzansi.