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Fake news around coronavirus a concern for Health Minister Mkhize

Health Ministe Zweli Mkhize and his department were briefing the Health portfolio committee on the department's response to the coronavirus outbreak, as well as the state of preparedness in the event that it reached South Africa.

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

CAPE TOWN - Health Minister Zweli Mkhize has assured members of Parliament (MPs) that his department was prepared for any possible coronavirus cases.

Mkhize and his department were briefing the Health portfolio committee on the department's response to the coronavirus outbreak, as well as the state of preparedness in the event that it reached South Africa.

The Health Minister's biggest concern about the coronavirus in South Africa was the peddling of misinformation or "fake news".

He said that this distracted from the real work being done.

"We must look at what comes out on Twitter. I'd like to ask these members to mount a campaign amongst ourselves where we dispell fake news for the sake of South Africa."

Mkhize also reminded members that fighting the virus was a public health issue.

He said that they're investigating how much people were being charged by private doctors for screening.

"We only test for coronavirus in the public sector, we don't have anyone else doing it. But we have seen a lot of stories of people who went to a doctor and we were told that they were being charged by private doctors."

The coronavirus was also expected to be debated by the National Assembly on Thursday as a matter of national importance.

There were confirmed cases of the virus in 80 nations across the world but the virus has not yet been recorded in South Africa.