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Coronavirus: 'SA has all necessary systems in place to identify, isolate cases'

The global number of infections from the 'China virus' now tops 1,300. The NICD's Cheryl Cohen details measures to protect SA.

This photo taken on 17 February 2020 shows a member of the medical staff (L) checking the body temperature of a patient who has displayed mild symptoms of the COVID-19 coronavirus, at an exhibition centre converted into a hospital in Wuhan in China's central Hubei province. Picture: AFP

Chinese authorities have reported 15 new deaths in Wuhan where the coronavirus outbreak started, as the virus spreads to Australia and other countries.

The official death toll has jumped to 41 from 26 a day earlier.

All the deaths have been in China, but cases have been reported in Australia, France, Malaysia, Vietnam, Singapore, Japan, South Korea, Taiwan, Hong Kong, Nepal,Thailand and the United States.

On Weekend Breakfast, Africa Melane finds out more about the newly-discovered strain of the coronavirus and South Africa's contingency measures from Professor Cheryl Cohen, head of the Centre for Respiratory Diseases and Meningitis (CRDM) at the National Institute For Communicable Diseases (NICD).

She confirms that no cases have been reported thus far in Africa.

South Africa is prepared says the professor - authorities have been monitoring the situation right from the start and last week released a set of guidelines to make sure the country is protected.

Firstly we have ongoing screening at the ports of entry, which was in fact already in place as a result of the Ebola outbreak in West Africa, so there's staff screening for the fever at O.R. Tambo International Airport... We have released guidelines to staff at the ports but also to healthcare workers - both doctors and nurses - in the public sector and the private sector throughout the country.

Prof. Cheryl Cohen, Head - Centre for Respiratory Diseases and Meningitis at NCID

The guidelines tell doctors about the disease; what are the signs and symptoms; who should you be worried about; if you find a case what must you do. That involves how must you treat the patient; how do you make sure the patient is appropriately isolated to prevent spread to anybody else and how do you take samples and transport them to rapidly make the diagnosis.

Prof. Cheryl Cohen, Head - Centre for Respiratory Diseases and Meningitis at NCID

Listen to the audio below for more detail:

This article first appeared on CapeTalk : Coronavirus: 'SA has all necessary systems in place to identify, isolate cases'