President Cyril Ramaphosa has asked South Africans not to panic and to remain alert following the announcement of the first confirmed case of COVID-19 (coronavirus) in the country.

The President reassured South Africans at an impromptu briefing on Thursday night (March 5) that government would continue to demonstrate urgency and caution as the country dealt with its first confirmed case of coronavirus. 

“We are in constant contact with the World Health Organization and we also have South Africans who are working at WHO, constantly keeping us up to date about this virus,” said Ramaphosa.

“We will keep informing South Africans very openly and transparently about the number of steps that we will be taking. We should be alert, so that if people show signs of some of the symptoms, they immediately are able to get medical assistance from all our medical care people.”

On March 5, Minster of Health, Dr Zweli Mkhize, told a media briefing that the patient was 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 KwaZulu Natal with epidemiologists and clinicians from NICD.

Cape Town Tourism held a proactive briefing session on March 5, with tourism, travel and hospitality leaders and stakeholders, and is rallying with government to manage the impact of COVID-19.

Cape Town Tourism CEO, Enver Duminy, said there were no confirmed cases of the coronavirus in the city. “We are preparing a toolkit for the local tourism industry who may have questions – this will be available on our website,” said Duminy.

“Additionally, while health authorities will have the primary role should a tourist visiting Cape Town be diagnosed with Covid-19 while in the city, Cape Town Tourism will be on hand to provide assistance through our Band-Aid programme.”