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Govt confident it can detect & isolate any cases of coronavirus in SA

Health screen checks at all ports of entry across the country were stepped up while the NICD’s emergency operations centre was on ‘alert mode’.

Health Minister Zweli Mkhize briefed the media on South Africa’s readiness to deal with the coronavirus outbreak that started in China and spread to several other countries on 29 January 2020. Picture: @DrZweliMkhize/Twitter

JOHANNESBURG - Government is confident it would be able to detect and isolate any cases of the coronavirus in South Africa and has urged citizens to alert officials of any suspected patients.

Health screen checks at all ports of entry across the country were stepped up while the National Institute for Communicable Diseases (NICD)’s emergency operations centre was on “alert mode”.

The coronavirus claimed the lives of more than 100 people worldwide and over 6,000 confirmed cases were reported.

At the emergency operations centre, computers were up and running with maps and information projected on large screens. If a detected case of coronavirus is confirmed in SA, the centre would kick into full gear for 24 hours, seven days a week.

Leading the team at the centre was Ann Matthews. She said the first person to be alerted of a case would be Health Minister Zweli Mkhize.

“The most likely place we would pick up a suspected case would be either at one of the borders or from a clinician from the ground,” she said.

Matthews said doctors would then be notified to assess the risk before testing the patient. Operators would then follow up on people who were in contact with the patient to try contain the outbreak as fast as possible.

Meanwhile, hundreds of foreign nationals were being evacuated from Wuhan. Australia planned to quarantine its evacuees on an island 2,000 kilometres from the mainland.

Japan, the US, and the European Union were also repatriating their citizens. While several airlines, including British Airways, suspended all flights to and from mainland China.

WATCH: Minister of Health says SA is on high alert for coronavirus

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