Health Minister Zweli Mkhize has confirmed that the total number of confirmed Covid-19 infections in South Africa has increased to 24. All of the cases are individuals who have recently returned from travel overseas. President Cyril Ramaphosa has called a high-level government meeting for Sunday confirm the country's response to the global outbreak.
Mkhize was speaking at the Ranch Resort in Polokwane which he confirmed will host the 122 repatriated South Africans from Wuhan, Hubei Province, in China.
“Three sites were identified. Of the three sites that were shortlisted, The Ranch Resort was selected. An agreement has been signed with the owner of the resort. We went through 84 sites for possible quarantine,” said the Minister.
Mkhize made the announcement on Thursday evening during a briefing by the Inter-Ministerial Committee on the Coronavirus in Polokwane.
Mkhize reiterated that those returning are not sick but healthy citizens. All military and health department personnel including the crew that undertook the repatriation will be housed at the resort.
To allay the fears of workers at the Ranch Resort, insurance company Momentum has partnered with government to offer a limited life cover to the workers.
Staff will also receive medical screening ahead of the arrival of the South Africans.
With the SANDF as the head of operations, Mkhize reiterated that military rules will apply with police playing a supportive role.
Minister Mkhize said those who test positive for the virus during the quarantine in Polokwane will be removed and taken for treatment.
Coronavirus tests decentralised
Government also took a decision to decentralize testing for the virus to the provinces with the ultimate verification done by the National Institute of Communicable Diseases (NICD).
With private sector laboratories partnering with government to scale up testing, the Minister said he will meet with private laboratories on Saturday to strengthen protocols.
Limpopo students cleared of Coronavirus
On the matter of 14 Limpopo TVET students who recently returned from China, the Minister says amid mounting speculation, tests were taken as a necessary precaution and to allay the fears of the community.
“They were tested two days ago and today the results have come out. They all tested negative for the Coronavirus. The fact that they came from China should not cause public concern. They do not have an infection,” he said.
Mkhize also took the time to dispel myths that the Coronavirus targets specific races.
"Coronavirus doesn’t look at your passport, doesn’t look at your nationality, doesn’t look at your circumstances whether you’re rich or poor, doesn’t care whether you’re within one metre of somebody sneezing, a droplet of infection will hit you,” he said. - SAnews.gov.za