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While there has been no case of Coronavirus reported in South Africa, people who develop symptoms of respiratory illness during or after travel to countries where the outbreak is known to be circulating, have been advised to seek early medical care.

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The National Institute for Communicable Diseases (NICD) on Monday said it continues to monitor the rapidly evolving developments surrounding Coronavirus cases in several cities in China and other countries in South Asia, North America, Europe and Egypt.

Last week Thursday, the World Health Organisation (WHO) confirmed a case of Coronavirus in the Islamic Republic of Iran.

The NICD said its highly specialised team of experts, which is responsible for performing Coronavirus monitoring and testing for South Africa and a number of African countries, remains on alert for potential cases of the disease that may reach South Africa.

“Surveillance of the Coronavirus outbreak remains a key priority for South Africa, and we continue to intensify screening at all ports of entry, with a particular focus on our major airports of entry. Evidence continues to support this approach as the vast majority of cases are introduced into territories outside of China by air travellers,” the NICD said.

As of 21 February 2020, the NICD had tested 107 people for Coronavirus.

“The NICD can confirm that all results came back negative for SARS-CoV-2 and that South Africa has not had a case of COVID-19.”

The institute has advised people, who develop symptoms of respiratory illness including cough, fever and shortness of breath, either during or after travel to countries where Coronavirus is known to be circulating, to seek medical care early, and share information about travel history with their healthcare providers.

Rapid increase of COVID-19 in Italy

Meanwhile, the Italian Ministry of Health has confirmed an increasing number of Coronavirus cases, including two deaths, clustered in two regions in Northern Italy, as well as single cases in other regions in Northern Italy.

The European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC), an agency of the European Union, said it is closely monitoring the situation, and it has been in contact with the Italian authorities to provide all necessary assistance at this stage and support their efforts in limiting sustained local transmission.

“Given the evolving situation, ECDC is assessing the impact that the clusters in Italy have on the overall risk for the EU/EEA, and will issue an updated risk assessment within the next 24 hours. ECDC is also in close contact with the European Commission and WHO/Europe.

“At the same time, ECDC continues to work with all the other EU member States to make sure they receive the best support. As the situation is rapidly evolving, more cases are expected in Italy, and possibly in the EU, in the coming days,” said ECDC Director Andrea Ammon on Sunday.