South Africa has confirmed its first case of the novel coronavirus, announcing on Thursday the positive results of a citizen returning from Italy.
“The patient is a 38-year-old male who traveled to Italy with his wife. They were part of a group of 10 people and they arrived back in South Africa on March 1,” said Dr. Zweli Mkhize, the country’s health minister.
The South African case in the coastal KwaZulu-Natal region was identified after the man went to the doctor and March 3. He has been in self-isolation since, the ministry said. Health officials are tracing and monitoring his contacts.
The National Institute for Communicable Disease assured South Africans that positive identification of the COVID-19 case was a health system success, as it did what it was designed to do: detect and rapidly identify cases.
South Africa is now the third country in the sub-Saharan region to identify cases of the coronavirus within its borders, and the seventh overall on the African continent. In addition to Nigeria and Senegal, there are cases in Morocco, Tunisia, Algeria and Egypt, most of them linked to the growing COVID-19 outbreak in Europe.
There are now more than 93,000 cases in at least 76 countries, according to the latest update from the World Health Organization. Italy has more than 2,500 cases and appears to be the source of many exported cases appearing in other nations, while France, Germany, Spain and the United Kingdom continue to see their case counts rise.
Nearly 3,200 people have died from the virus, which first appeared in the Chinese city of Wuhan in December. Japan, South Korea and Iran are also global hotspots for the virus.
Image: University of Hong Kong