Boots on the ground as government worries about South Africans giving coronavirus to one another

An armoured police vehicle takes up position at the Ranch Resort in Limpopo, where the South Africans being repatriated from Wuhan, China, will be quarantined.
An armoured police vehicle takes up position at the Ranch Resort in Limpopo, where the South Africans being repatriated from Wuhan, China, will be quarantined.
Image: Graeme Hosken

The government is racing to stop South Africans from spreading the coronavirus among themselves.

“Domestic transmission is a concern. Now, more than ever, like elsewhere internationally, the focus must be to ensure it does not spread through localised interaction,"  health minister Dr Zweli Mkhize said as he conducted a final inspection of the Ranch Resort outside Polokwane.

The resort will be used to quarantine the 121 South Africans whom the government is evacuating from Wuhan, China, the  epicentre of the global Covid-19 pandemic.

On Friday Mkhize announced that eight additional South Africans had tested positive for coronavirus, bringing the total to 24. However, he said  more positive tests were being verified, and the results would be announced once that process was completed.

Mkhize, addressing journalists outside the resort, said: “Up until now all 24 the cases we have recorded in South Africa have all been brought into the country by those travelling from overseas to here.

“The main issue is to identify those who test positive, limit their movement and treat them. This is critical to ensure we do not have a localised spread.”

He said government’s tracing teams had been increased, with a deadline of 48 hours set to track down all those who had come into contact with infected people. 

“The patients have been informed and their contacts are being traced. I must, however, warn there are more cases which have tested positive.

“However, we need to ensure the validity of the original tests to rule out any false positive results. We have already had two false positive results ," he said.

He said 840 tests had been conducted with 54 contacts - people who have been in contact with coronavirus-infected patients - ruled out.


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