Mkhize says FS COVID-19 infection misinterpreted
Health Minister Zweli Mkhize is briefing the country on the latest developments regarding the coronavirus infections in the country.
JOHANNESBURG - Health Minister Dr Zweli Mkhize has moved to clarify that the Free State man who had reportedly tested positive for COVID-19 was in fact not infected with the coronavirus.
This means that the number of cases in the country is revised down from 17 to 16.
#ZweliMkhize: There were 17 confirmed cases of the virus we reported this morning.— Dr Zweli Mkhize (@DrZweliMkhize) March 12, 2020
But we have subsequently found that the Free State case which initially tested positive earlier, we have subsequently found is negative.#IMTTCoronaVirusBriefing
We humbly apologise for the error in reporting the first case of local transmission of #COVID19 in our earlier report. On Verification, the case was found to be negative. As of 12 March 16 persons have tested positive for #COVID1916.— NICD (@nicd_sa) March 12, 2020
The minister was in Polokwane on Thursday evening where he was giving a briefing on the ongoing repatriation process of South Africans in China.
The minister confirmed that the Protea Ranch Hotel in Limpopo would be used as a "quarantine site" for the South Africans being repatriated from the virus epicentre in Wuhan, China.
The minister said that the test of the Free State man was done at a local private laboratory in an attempt to decentralise testing, however, confirmation from the NICD found the result was negative.
But Mkhize maintained that it was more important to communicate quickly than to wait for fake news to overtake reporting by the department.
"We'd mentioned that the individual had worked with a Chinese businessman but not that he had been to China or any part where the infection is rife. It was not supposed to mean that someone was confirmed as positive and therefore that contact and in such an instance such a reference was made, so we want to indicate publicly that we withdraw that and we regret that such a reference was made."
WATCH: Mkhize briefs SA on COVID-19 developments
The minister confirmed that none of the 122 South Africans being evacuated from Wuhan had been sick, adding that the only restriction they would have is that they couldn't meet their families during quarantine as a statutory provision.
The South African crew members of the Diamond Princess cruise ship were also in quarantine for 14 days before returning home.
Minister Mkhize said that those who tested positive for the virus during the quarantine in Polokwane would be removed and taken for treatment.