National Institue of Communicable Diseases confirms an increase of COVID-19 cases in South Africa

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The novel coronavirus, COVID-19, is making international headlines, affecting the lives of thousands of people.

With the feared virus making its way into South Africa, President Cyril Ramaphosa addressed South Africans on Sunday evening, March 15, and declared a national state of disaster. Since the president’s address, the fight against the disease in South Africa continues.

According to the National Institute for Communicable Diseases (NICD), the COVID-19 cases in South Africa continue to rise, with private and public laboratories now fully equipped to test for SARS-CoV-2, the causative pathogen for COVID-19.

The National Institute for Communicable Diseases (NICD), a division of the National Health Laboratory Service, is closely monitoring the status of COVID-19 in the country.

“As of 17 March 2020, the NICD confirmed 23 new additional cases of COVID-19 which have tested positive for SARS-CoV-2,” says Sinenhlanhla Jimoh, NICD spokesperson.

Jimoh explains that as of Tuesday, March 17, a total of 2 911 suspected cases of COVID-19 were tested by public and private laboratories. Out of these, a total of 85 were positive.

The Gauteng Province has recorded the majority of cases so far, followed by the Western Cape Province.

“The 23 newly added cases consist of eight locally transmitted cases, four from the Gauteng Province, three from the KwaZulu-Natal Province and one from the Western Cape Province with no international travel history,” Jimoh explains.

Then as of 18 March, the NICD confirmed a further 31 new additional cases that tested positive for COVID-19. The total confirmed cases for COVID-19 to date stands at 116, most of the cases are accounted in the Gauteng Province with over 52% representation.

The NICD confirms that contact tracing of those who might have come into contact with the patients is underway. This is done to reduce further local transmission of COVID-19 in the community in South Africa.

“In response to minimising the number of locally transmitted cases, the NICD continues to strengthen surveillance activities to capacitate testing and following up on suspected cases,” Jimoh concludes.

Jimoh adds that since the activation of the first COVID-19 public hotline number, the NICD has recorded high call volumes from the public hotline, wherein a total of 324 062 calls have been received to date.  

“As such, we have added two additional hotline numbers to capacitate and the upscale timeous response of inquiries for the public and doctors.”

Clinicians can now contact the new clinicians’ hotline number on 0800 11 1131 for doctors only.

In addition to 0800 029 999, the public can also contact the public hotline number on 0800 111 132; please note that all lines operate 24 hours a day.

“We have recorded a high number of prank calls. We wish to urge the public to desist from such behaviour as it takes away resources from those who need them the most,” Jimoh concludes.

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