Northern KwaZulu-Natal has recorded its first COVID-19 related fatality, following the death of a 74-year-old man from Ladysmith.
In a press statement, the health minister, Dr Zweli Mkhize explained the patient had been in ICU and ventilation in a private hospital in Ladysmith.
He had travelled to the Kruger National Park with his family and came back with flu-like symptoms. He was confirmed to be COVID-19 positive on March 27.
“It has been reported to us that the deceased patient had an underlying skin cancer condition (melanoma), which had already complicated. He presented with the following symptoms: respiratory distress, shortness of breath, cardiac failure, decreased saturation and his temperature was above 38 degrees,” said Dr Mkhize.
The deceased’s family, 14 health workers, including three specialist doctors, who were in contact with him are now in quarantine and being monitored.
“We express our condolences to the family and we thank the doctors and health workers who looked after the deceased patient until his time of passing.”
The elderly patient’s death marks the second recorded COVID-19 death in South Africa. On March 27, the Health Department reported two deaths as a result of the COVID-19 virus.
The first patient was a 48-year-old woman who tested positive for COVID-19 on March 23. She was suffering from a pulmonary embolism. This means she had an underlying disease.
The second patient who died; was a suspected case based on her clinical presentation. The clinicians treating her at the time of her death reported that the 28-year-old woman had presented respiratory distress in hospital.
At the time of presentation at the hospital, she was hypoxic. She was intubated and transferred to hospital during the early hours of this morning, (March 27). On arrival in ICU, she was declared dead.
The clinical picture was suggestive of COVID-19 and, therefore, a test was conducted. Her laboratory results have since been received and were confirmed negative. Her immediate family was also tested, and they are also negative. She is therefore no longer considered a COVID-19 case.
As of March 29, the total number of confirmed COVID-19 cases is 1280. This sees an increase of 93 cases from March 28.
With two confirmed COVID-19 deaths and 1280 confirmed cases, the National Institute for Communicable Diseases (NICD) explains that surveillance operations for COVID-19 are ongoing in South Africa, including the surveillance and monitoring of possible COVID-19 cases and contacts that have come into contact with confirmed COVID-19.
The NICD believes national lockdown is expected to yield positive results by decreasing the number of COVID-19 cases in the coming days, by flattening the COVID-19 transmission curve.
According to Sinenhlanhla Jimoh, Senior Communications Manager for the NICD, testing for COVID-19 in South Africa is currently conducted through a molecular test based on polymerase chain reaction (PCR) methodology from public and private laboratories.
“To date, a total of 35 593 tests were conducted, of which the positive outcome is about 3.6%. We urge South Africans to continue to heed to COVID-19 preventative measures during and beyond the lockdown by practising physical distancing, hand hygiene, appropriate cough etiquette and staying at home.”
If you suspect you might have come into contact with someone who had COVID-19, you can contact the NICD public hotlines. The numbers can be contacted on 0800 029 999 or 0800 111 132.