SA activates Emergency Operations Centre amid gloabl coronavirus outbreak

More than 200 people have died from the infection while thousands are being treated.

FILE: Health Minister Zweli Mkhize. Picture: Abigail Javier/EWN.

JOHANNESBURG - Health Minister Zweli Mkhize on Friday said South Africa’s emergency operations centre was activated and more staff members would be roped in to monitor the coronavirus.

The announcement came shortly after the World Health Organisation declared the virus a public health emergency of global concern.

“This now means that we have deviated staff working exclusively on the coronavirus. They’re monitoring it and reports that detect the virus.”

Government has again confirmed that to date, there is no case of the virus in South Africa.

It’s killed more than 200 people in China and has already infected about 10,000 more.

There is no vaccine at the moment, but scientists are working on finding one.

Mkhize said several steps had now been taken to increase the country’s capacity to deal with a possible outbreak on home soil.

“Centres have been identified for their ability to isolate, manage or contain suspected cases of the virus, as well as for research purposes. This by no means suggests that other facilities won’t be able to handle suspected cases. It is simply a mechanism to centralise information and data collection.”

WATCH: Health minister media briefing on coronavirus

Earlier, the WHO's Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said the concern was that it could spread to countries with weaker health systems.

“Let me be clear. This declaration is not a vote of no confidence in China. On the contrary, the WHO continues to have confidence in China’s capacity to handle the outbreak.”

So far, there are no reported cases in South Africa. However, there are more than 30 South Africans stranded in Wuhan, where the virus broke out in China.

Is a virus living or not? Check out the fact file below on viruses, which are among the most abundant organisms on the planet. Picture: AFP