The National Institute of Communicable Diseases (NICD) has reiterated South Africa’s readiness to deal with an outbreak of COVID-19 (coronavirus), highlighting that, to date, no cases of the viral disease had been confirmed in the country.

“To date, the NICD has tested 82 individuals for COVID-19. Results are all negative,” said an NICD spokesperson.

South Africa is on high alert following news of the first case being confirmed by the World Health Organisation (WHO) in Egypt earlier this week.

Subsequently, the NICD and the National Health Department continue to strengthen surveillance activities through improving the training of health professionals, including medical doctors, environmental health practitioners, emergency personnel and nurses.

WHO is working to improve Africa’s readiness to detect and treat the outbreak of COVID-19, with emergency Operations Manager in Africa for WHO, Dr. Michel Yao, highlighting that 18 countries in Africa were currently equipped to detect and confirm cases.

“There is training that will be done regarding some of the technical aspects in the weeks to come in 17 southern African countries,” he added.

Meanwhile, Zimbabwe’s Ministry of Health and Child Care (MoHCC) has slammed as “fake”, news reports that some Chinese nationals have been quarantined in Zimbabwe due to outbreaks of COVID-19.

The MoHCC added in statement that ‘adequate measures’ had been put in place to prevent, detect and respond to the outbreak and that all health workers were on alert and had been trained under the Integrated Disease Surveillance and Response programme to respond to this and other outbreaks.

Zimbabwe has long introduced surveillance and precautionary measures at all the country’s ports of entry to curb the spread of coronavirus. All travellers from coronavirus-affected areas are currently being screened.

Tourism players in Zimbabwe recently said they had not seen any impact on bookings following the outbreak of the coronavirus.