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Mkhize confirms 4 more people test positive for COVID-19

This brings to seven the number of infected people in the country.

 Health Minister Zweli Mkhize speaks at an inter-ministerial briefing in Pretoria on the coronavirus situation in South Africa on 9 March 2020. Picture: Kayleen Morgan/EWN

PRETORIA - Health Minister Zweli Mkhize said that four more people had tested positive for the coronavirus.

This brought to seven the number of infected people in the country. The latest patients were all from KwaZulu-Natal.

An infographic showing the number of confirmed coronavirus infections in South Africa on 9 March 2020. Picture: EWN

The minister was speaking at an inter-ministerial briefing on the coronavirus on Monday where he announced that the four new infections were part of the group of 10 people who had travelled to and from Italy.

He said that one of the 10 did not return to South Africa but travelled to Dubai and then to the United Kingdom.

Mkhize said that the other two people were also tested and they were awaiting their results.

"One is a couple in KwaZulu-Natal, a 38-year-old male and female. Another is a 45-year-old male, also in the Pietermariztburg area. The fourth is another male who is in the area of Pietermaritzburg as well - he's a 38-year-old male."

The first case of a KwaZulu-Natal man being infected was announced last Thursday, followed by the second case of a Gauteng woman on Saturday and a third case on Sunday, who's the wife of the first patient. All three were part of the group of 10 who travelled together to and from Italy.

The minister was speaking at an inter-ministerial briefing on the coronavirus in South Africa on Monday.

WATCH: Four more South Africans test positive for COVID-19

The Health Minister said that medical personnel were now trying to trace anyone else who may have come into contact with the seven people who were confirmed to have contracted the coronavirus.

The minister said that the new infections were expected.

"We are not surprised with these particular results, we think that the kind of exposure that these members had if it was enough to create an infection for one person, it was most likely that all of them would have had similar exposure."

He said that they would treat each infection as a new case.

"If anyone is suspected [of having the virus], we then test them and note who the contacts are. Once the person becomes positive, we then test the contacts and when the contacts are positive, we treat each one of them as if they're the centre of the circle."

Mkhize said that travel bans had not been considered yet and he has emphasised that there was no need to panic.

Health Minister Zweli Mkhize added that the evacuation of South Africans from the coronavirus epicentre in Wuhan, China was on course.