Tourism organisations have emphasised that today’s confirmed case of COVID-19 (coronavirus) in Kwa-Zulu Natal is an isolated incident and there is “no need to panic”.

The Ministry of Health announced earlier today (March 5) that the National Institute for Communicable Diseases (NICD) confirmed that a suspected case of COVID-19 has tested positive.

Minister of Health, Dr Zweli Mkhize, explained at a media briefing that the patient is a 38-year-old male who had arrived back in South Africa on March 1 after travelling to Italy.

The Emergency Operating Centre (EOC) has identified all those who came into contact with the patient. The tracer team has been deployed to Kwa-Zulu Natal with epidemiologists and clinicians from NICD.

The Minister of Health explained that an official press briefing would be held this evening following a parliamentary debate on the coronavirus.

South African Tourism told Tourism Update that it is being kept abreast of all developments by the inter-departmental task team established by the South African government and will provide updates as they become available.

CEO of the Tourism Business Council of South Africa, Tshifhiwa Tshivhengwa, said to Tourism Update that the public should not panic as it is an isolated case

“We also need to focus on the many patients who have recovered from COVID-19. The two South African crew members on the Diamond Princess cruise ship tested negative,” said Tshivhengwa. “Vietnam was able to treat the 16 patients reported and they tested negative for the virus. We don’t need to panic.”

CEO of SATSA, David Frost, told Tourism Update that there was currently no evidence of local transmission and the association was awaiting guidelines from the Department of Health and the NICD.

“The existing guidelines from WHO are based on self-isolation and following hygiene practices, such as washing hands thoroughly etc. We will continue to monitor the situation and advise our members accordingly,” said Frost.