News24 Wire
3 minute read
6 Mar 2020
10:00 am

SA authorities call high-level meeting to discuss first coronavirus case

News24 Wire

A high-level meeting is expected to be held today with the authorities of the school which the children of South Africa's first coronavirus patients attend, according to the NICD.

Minister of Health Zweli Mkhize addressing a media briefing on the coronavirus at Parliament on 5 March 2020 in Cape Town, as the first case of the Covid-19 illness was detected in the country - a 38-year-old man who travelled to Italy. Picture: Rodger Bosch/AFP

South Africa’s health authorities are pulling out all the stops since the news broke that there was one case of coronavirus in South Africa.

A high-level meeting is expected to be held on Friday with the authorities of the school which the children of South Africa’s first coronavirus patients attend, according to the National Institute for Communicable Diseases (NICD).

A briefing is expected to be held afterward.

“Today, the Minister of Health, [KwaZulu-Natal] MECs for health and education, [and] the NICD will be meeting the Cowan House [Preparatory School] board and management,” the NICD said.

“This follows their decision to shut down the school today following the announcement that a parent at the school has tested positive for Covid-19. After the private meeting with the school management, the minister and team will hold a media briefing to update the public on the developments,” the statement read.

Shut down

Cowan House Preparatory School in Hilton, KwaZulu-Natal has been shut down for safety reasons.

Headmaster at Hilton College, George Harris, said the school was also on high alert and that they did not want to create panic.

However, residents of Hilton, just outside Pietermaritzburg, are confident that the coronavirus will soon be a distant memory.

South Africa’s first coronavirus patient is a 38-year-old man who travelled to Italy along with his wife and tested positive after he returned.

The couple was part of a group of 10 people who returned from Italy on 1 March. He then began experiencing symptoms and went to see his doctor on 3 March, before going into isolation.

Ward 6 councillor in Hilton, Craig Millar, said: “The community is pretty calm. We have a great history of community in Hilton, where we support and look after each other. As long as we share information and everyone is informed… we can reduce the amount of panic and increase a proper flow of information to people.”

Doctor quarantined

Meanwhile, the doctor who made the discovery, also from Hilton, has self-quarantined.

Millar said: “A lot of people use her (the doctor) and I am sure she is taking the best action that she can.”

Millar asked for more information from the provincial and national government.

The KZN health department has not commented on the matter to date.

Another resident, who knows the doctor and interacted with her, described her as “exceptional”.

“She has served the community selflessly. She is highly regarded. I can’t sing her praises enough. She often has a very holistic approach to things and is a very respected and important part of the community.”

“We’d like to tell her that we miss her services and hope she takes this time to rest up because she is overworked and deserves an excuse to put her feet up.”

Mount Edge Country Estate

Meanwhile, Mount Edge Country Estate said a person living in the complex had been in contact with the patient.

The estate said the resident had been in contact with the NICD and promised to update residents.

A team of specialists, including epidemiologists and clinicians, is currently in KwaZulu-Natal to test those who have been in contact with the couple who travelled to Italy.

Health Minister Zweli Mkhize confirmed South Africa’s first case at a briefing in Cape Town on Thursday.

For more news your way, download The Citizen’s app for iOS and Android.