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Stop the stigma around coronavirus, Mkhize urges South Africans

A KwaZulu-Natal couple is among the three patients who are recovering in quarantine amid the coronavirus outbreak.

From left: KZN Health MEC Nomagugu Simelane-Zulu, Health Minister Zweli Mkhize and KZN Education MEC Kwazi Mshengu speak to the parents of Cowan House Prep and principals in the Mgungundlovu District on 6 March 2020. A parent at the school is the first person in South Africa to be diagnosed with the coronavirus. Picture: @DBE_KZN/Twitter

JOHANNESBURG - Health Minister Zweli Mkhize on Sunday insisted South Africa is equipped in both the private and public sectors to deal with the spread of COVID-19 after confirmation that a third patient in the country had tested positive.

A KwaZulu-Natal couple is among the three patients who are recovering in quarantine amid the coronavirus outbreak.

They were part of a group of 10 people who returned from Italy last week.

Mkhize said while hospitals were preparing to quarantine any patient who tested positive for COVID-19, government was urging South Africans to cooperate and increase personal hygiene habits by washing their hands regularly.

“Now that we’ve seen one patient, we’re going to increase the number of beds so that should there be a need to increase the number of people who are going to be admitted, we can take them in.”

Mkhize told the Pietermaritzburg community to steer clear of stigmatising people with the coronavirus and to avoid stereotypes.

“If someone has been treated, they can go back to work and there’s no problem. Don’t start saying ‘that one had coronavirus, we can’t sit next to him’ because once it’s treated, it’s gone - like flu. Just continue with life.”

The children of the KwaZulu-Natal couple have tested negative for the virus but they're not yet back at school as a precautionary measure.

WATCH: Don’t spread fake news: These coronavirus reports are false

Meanwhile, Egypt has recorded its first COVID-19 death, marking the first fatality on the continent.

A German tourist died on Sunday in a Sinai resort of eastern Egypt.

Cairo's health ministry said the tourist, who arrived from Germany a week ago, died after having refused to be transferred to an isolation ward until Saturday once his breathing had been affected by "acute pneumonia".

Since the outbreak was detected late last year, more than 100,000 people have been infected, while more than 3,600 have died.

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