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SA On High Alert For Coronavirus

No restrictions on travelling to China have been issued for South Africans following the coronavirus (2019-nCoV) outbreak in the country, but those travelling from China and other Asian countries would be under surveillance, according to authorities.

Cases of the disease had been reported in other parts of the world, including the United States, and a student in Ivory Coast became the first patient to test positive for the virus in Africa.

According to the National Institute of Communicable Diseases (NICD), no cases of the deadly virus have been reported in South Africa, but the national health department was urging travellers to the city of Wuhan, China, to avoid contact with animals and encouraged good hand hygiene and cough etiquette to reduce the risk of infection with respiratory viruses.

The World Health Organisation advised African health ministers to activate standard flu screening at airports for passengers coming from China.

Cases of the new coronavirus mushroomed across the world after first being reported in China, where it has claimed at least 100 lives.

This week, department of health spokesperson Popo Maja said people travelling from China would be under heightened surveillance and each province was provided with a disease response plan.

Increased safety measures by health authorities have been put in place at ports of entry to avoid importation of the virus.

The coronavirus was known to spread largely between mammals and birds. It causes complications with the respiratory system in humans.

The most notable coronavirus outbreaks were of severe acute respiratory syndrome in 2002-03 and Middle East respiratory syndrome in 2012-13, which claimed 1,600 lives in four years.

According to the NCID, port health professionals routinely conducted temperature screening for all international travellers.

However, due to the current risk of importation of cases of 2019-nCoV from Wuhan, port health authorities had enhanced surveillance of all travellers from Asia.

NCID said OR Tambo and Cape Town International Airports were the only ports of entry with direct flights from Asia.

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Written by AN

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