NICD warns people living in malaria-risk areas to get tested as cases spike

During a technical briefing on COVID-19 on Wednesday, NICD experts said that despite the country entering its peak malaria season, many cases were being misdiagnosed as COVID-19.

FILE: Investigations into the deaths and number of severe malaria cases had emphasised that some were being diagnosed late or being missed. Picture: freeimages.com

CAPE TOWN - The National Institute of Communicable Diseases (NICD) has reiterated that people living in South Africa's malaria-risk areas should also be tested for the disease if they present with flu-like symptoms.

During a technical briefing on COVID-19 on Wednesday, NICD experts said despite the country entering its peak malaria season, many cases were being misdiagnosed as COVID-19.

This said was because both malaria and COVID-19 had similar non-specific early symptoms, which included fever, chills, headaches, fatigue and muscle pain.

Principal Medical Scientist Dr Jaishree Raman said with the relaxation of travel restrictions, coupled with increased cross-border movement, they were now also detecting more malaria cases as well as deaths.

“We have gone from reporting under 30 cases in the last few months to over 97 just last month and Mpumalanga going from under 100 cases to 250 already for January.”

Raman said investigations into the deaths and number of severe malaria cases had emphasised that some were being diagnosed late or being missed.