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It is under control, says Zweli Mkhize

People wear masks in Cyrildene, Johanesburg. as coronavirus cases spread worldwide.
People wear masks in Cyrildene, Johanesburg. as coronavirus cases spread worldwide.

Just hours after confirming that a third person has tested positive for coronavirus, health minister Zweli Mkhize said the disease can be beaten.

He said the third patient confirmed to have Covid-19 is the wife of the first person to be confirmed to test positive for the virus.

Mkhize held a briefing in Umngungundlovu District, KwaZulu-Natal, to allay fears on the outbreak of coronavirus in SA.

"All the countries will have this virus as part of their daily lives, there is no way we are going to stop it. What is important for us is to demystify this virus, and make people not to fear it but understand how we can defeat it.

"And it's very simple, this virus spreads in what we call droplet infection. Droplet infection is that as I'm busy talking to you, I'm throwing out droplets of fluid from the mouth. When I sneeze, the same thing happens, and when I cough. If someone has got tears, it will also come from the tears. So either someone will sneeze or cough next you and you will inhale those droplets and you will get the virus," he said.

To catch the virus, a person has to be in close proximity of someone who is infected.

Mkhize said if someone is coughing, simply moving 1.5m away from them would be practical.

"The coronavirus situation is not as bad as it appears on TV, we are keeping an eye on the situation," Mkhize said.

He cautioned against panic and hysteria, stating that people should not pay attention to fear mongering messages over WhatsApp and other social media.

"Two to 14 days incubation period basically means it is not the same way that the virus behaves in different individuals. Some will have the virus and within two days the virus will begin to grow in numbers and begin to give them symptoms and become infective, others won't be sure for another two weeks, but it becomes infective when it already shows you some symptoms already. So we will then test and find it is there in the body."

Mkhize said when an individual is not showing symptoms, it is not common that the individual will be infecting others, or that the test will come out positive.

He said masks were not necessary for the public at the moment, though those who worked at airports and medical staff assigned to areas that deal with the virus should wear them.

Mkhize said the speed at which the virus spreads is due to the fact that humans have never encountered it before.

"There are many viruses and bacteria that humans encounter that the body can handle. The virus encounters soldiers in the body that defeat it. These don't make you sick because the body has encountered them before .with the coronavirus it was unknown to the human body," he said.

According to Mkhize, China's quick response in isolating the infected and treating them separately helped to lower cases of the infected.

On Saturday, China recorded 145 new infections and 30 deaths whereas the rest of the world had 2,500 infections. Worldwide 107,000 people are infected with the virus and 80,000 of these infections are in China.

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