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No need to panic over jump in COVID-19 cases in SA - NICD

The NICD's Cheryl Cohen said that South Africa remained capacitated to detect new cases.

This handout illustration image obtained February 27, 2020 courtesy of the National Institutes of Health taken with a scanning electron microscope shows SARS-CoV-2 (round blue objects) emerging from the surface of cells cultured in the lab, SARS-CoV-2, also known as 2019-nCoV, is the virus that causes COVID-19, the virus shown was isolated from a patient in the US. Picture: AFP.

CAPE TOWN - The National Institute for Communicable Diseases (NICD) said that despite the announcement of more South Africans having tested positive for the coronavirus, there was still no need for South Africans to panic.

Six more people were infected with the virus, bringing the number of cases in South Africa to 13.

The NICD's Cheryl Cohen said that South Africa remained capacitated to detect new cases.

"It's really driven by what we are seeing in Europe where there is quite a lot of transmission in different countries in Europe and we know that Europe is a part of the world that South Africa is more connected with in terms of flights compared to China. So it really reflects what's going on in Europe and that there are a large number of cases in Europe."

Meanwhile, Tygerberg Hospital management said that it was confident that its measures to deal with a possible escalation in COVID-19 cases were enough.

Western Cape Health Department officials took the media on a tour of the facility's isolation unit after the province's first coronavirus case was registered.

The 36-year-old man in Cape Town was not at the hospital but was in self-quarantine at home.

Laboratory tests have confirmed that 13 people nationally were infected with the coronavirus.

Tygerberg Hospital CEO, Dr Dimitri Erasmus, said that there was no need for the public to panic.

"In the vicinity right now, there is sufficient supply. There are national and process to ensure that there are enough supplies in the province. Specifically, the staff involved in active patient care are fully trained, they are debriefed and motivated all the time."

Infectious diseases physician at Tygerberg Hospital, Dr Jantjie Taljaard, briefed the premier and media on the isolation process.

"We'll open entrance 5, our security services will be deployed and they'll clear the area. The infection prevention control team will come down and make sure that everything is correct. Again, I just need to say that the infection prevention control team is extremely important. They are the angels of the hospital and protect the healthcare personnel to make sure that they can do their jobs."

Taljaard explained how suspected COVID-19 patients were brought into the facility.

"So they'd be going up in the lifts. There are two lifts here - one is specifically commissioned for a potential person with an infection and we have a key for that lift. The key will be given to the EMS and nobody else will go in. The EMS personnel that brought the patient in will go with the patient into the lift and use the key to go straight up to the 10th floor and to the isolation unit, which is currently being used."

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