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Too early for SA to enforce travel bans to deal with coronavirus - Ramaphosa

The president has appealed to the public not to spread fake news and information on COVID-19 as this would cause panic.

FILE: President Cyril Ramaphosa. Picture: @PresidencyZA/Twitter

JOHANNESBURG – President Cyril Ramaphosa on Saturday said it was premature for South Africa to implement travel bans related to countries affected by the new coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak as the country had only two confirmed cases of the disease so far.

This after Health Minister Zweli Mkhize announced the second case of COVID-19 in the country. The patient is a 39-year-old woman from Gauteng who was part of the same travel group of 10 to Italy as the first case confirmed in KwaZulu-Natal on Thursday.

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“I think it is too early [to call for a travel ban]. We just got two cases from the same source. So, let us keep watching how this thing carries on. The government will keep our people informed at all times,” Ramaphosa said.

The president made the remarks while speaking to journalists in Pretoria on the sidelines of the ANC Women’s League inaugural presidential golf day to raise funds for gender-based violence campaigns.

Ramaphosa said health officials in the country were anticipating the second possible confirmation of COVID-19 from the same travel group that returned from Italy last Sunday.

“In some ways, it was expected that having travelled together to Italy they would have contracted it. So, there is no reason to panic. The Department of Health is handling this extremely well. The minister reported to me immediately [the second confirmed case] and I think the isolation of the people does show that we are handling it as well as we could.

“And I think if we carry on this way, we will be able to contain it, but the other important thing, of course, is that all of us as South Africans, we must now be on high alert on things such as continuously washing our hands… and if you cough, you should cough with a handkerchief or a tissue, and dispose of it immediately. If we can contain the disease in that way, I think we will go a long way,” Ramaphosa said.

He also appealed to the public to not spread fake news and information on coronavirus as this would cause panic.

“We did say we will be transparent. The important thing here is to avoid fake news and the spreading of false information. We need to be very careful in the way that we communicate about this matter. We must be responsible because we are dealing with a matter that can cause a lot of panic in society and we don’t want to do that.”

WATCH: In 2 minutes: Why no one in SA should panic about coronavirus