One of the 13 South Africans who tested positive for the coronavirus has renal disease and is in a critical condition, the Gauteng health department said on Wednesday.
The 57-year-old patient suffered from renal disease, which the department was worried about, Health MEC Bandile Masuku said.
He added the man had comorbidity, meaning the presence of one or more conditions in addition to the primary condition.
“Those are two factors that usually give us a severe pattern of the disease that we have seen,” Masuku said.
UPDATE (12 March 2020): Four additional coronavirus cases brings SA’s total to 17, with first ‘local transmission’
He confirmed five patients had tested positive for the virus which first hit the city of Wuhan in China about three months ago.
Department spokesperson Kwara Kekana said the patients who tested positive would be moved to designated facilities established to deal with the virus.
Earlier, Health Minister Zweli Mkhize confirmed six new cases, bringing the number of locals who have tested positive to 13.
In Gauteng, the youngest patient is a 33-year-old woman who returned from Italy on 1 March.
A Gauteng couple – a 34-year-old male and 33-year-old female – travelled to Germany and returned to South Africa on 9 March.
The 57-year-old male travelled to Austria and Italy and returned to South Africa on 9 March.
One patient in Gauteng has reportedly already recovered from the original seven who were diagnosed prior to today.
Covid-19 is thought to have a fatality rate of more than 3% among people who get infected. It can prove especially fatal for people with pre-existing conditions and the elderly, and affects men more adversely than women.
Although it is neither caused by a flu or cold virus, the coronavirus’ symptoms are similar to those seen in both illnesses.
Outside of Gauteng, in KwaZulu-Natal a new diagnosed patient is a 40-year-old male who travelled to Portugal. He returned on 7 March.
In the Western Cape, their first diagnosed patient is a 36-year-old male who travelled to multiple countries including Germany, Austria, Switzerland and Turkey. He returned to South Africa on 9 March.
“All the patients have now been advised. Those who are symptomatic have started receiving treatment,” said Mkhize.
“Some of these patients are already in hospital while some, specifically those who are asymptomatic, are in self-quarantine. Contact tracing has also started for all these cases,” the minister said in a statement.
At least 3,642 tests have so far been conducted for the virus.
More information relating to these cases would be communicated. The minister requested that the privacy of the patients and the families continued to be observed by the media and members of the public.
(Compiled by Charles Cilliers and Molefe Seeletsa)