The National Institute for Communicable Diseases (NICD), Mediclinic Louis Leipoldt in Bellville, Cape Town, where the man died, as well as ZTE Corporation, the Chinese company where the deceased worked, have all slammed Smit for irresponsibly spreading panic and falsehoods - and for disrespecting the family of the deceased.
This is against a backdrop of more than 1,110 COVID-19 deaths so far, mainly in China, and more than 43,000 cases reported across the globe.
“I have noted the comment on Twitter by Mr Mark Smit. However, I am not sure in which capacity Mr Smit is making a posthumous diagnosis of the deceased,” said NICD communications manager Sinenhlanhla Jimoh.
“We urge the public to disregard rumours and discourage the further spread of these fear-mongering rumours. We will inform the public should there be a positive case.
“For the record, there has been no positive case of COVID-19 nor death in South Africa. We have tested 63 individuals as of this morning [Wednesday] for COVID-19 and they have all come out negative.”
Jimoh added that "swine flu" refers to a disease in pigs but that Influenza A(H1N1)pdm09 is sometimes incorrectly referred to as swine flu. This type of influenza is “a common infection” and “not a notifiable disease".