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No coronavirus case in Free State yet . . . as minister withdraws statement announcing positive test

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By Staff Reporter

Health Minister Zweli Mkhize has withdrawn his statement released on Thursday morning announcing the Free State had recorded its first case of the novel coronavirus.

The patient had instead tested negative, the minister confirmed during a media briefing in Limpopo.

Mkhize had earlier said the 32-year-old man tested positive for the coronavirus after coming into contact with a Chinese businessman in the province.

The patient had not travelled abroad, which means if he had tested positive he would have become the first local transmission of the virus on South African shores.

“Up to now, we have been conducting tests at the government lab and then release the results. We are now ready to decentralise the testing both of provincial labs and work with private labs,” Mkhize said.

“One of the patients who underwent testing has since tested negative for coronavirus. There were 17 cases and one of them was reported in the Free State where the patient came into contact with a person who recently arrived in SA. His tests were confirmed by a private lab and he was placed into self-quarantine. However, his tests have proven negative.”

As of today, 126 656 cases and 4 640 deaths have been recorded globally as the virus continues to wreak havoc worldwide.

Coronavirus is a respiratory illness caused by a new virus, with its symptoms ranging from a mild cough to pneumonia.

Some people recover easily, while others may get very sick very quickly.

Many of those initially infected either worked or frequently shopped in the Huanan seafood wholesale market in the centre of the Chinese city of Wuhan.

Unusually for a virus that has made the jump from one species to another, it appears to transmit effectively in humans – current estimates show that without strong containment measures the average person who catches Covid-19 will pass it on to two others.

The virus also appears to have a higher mortality rate than common illnesses such as seasonal flu.

Good hygiene can prevent infection.

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