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'We are prepared for virus' says Health Department

Following the announcement by the World Health Organisation to declare the recent 2019-Novel Coronavirus (2019-nCoV) outbreak in China as a global public health emergency, the Western Cape Health Department would like to reiterate that the province is ready to deal with any confirmed or suspected cases when presented to any of its health facilities.

In a media statement by Mark van der Heever, Deputy Director of Communications at the Western Cape Health Department, members of the public are urged to follow their normal route to access healthcare services through their local health facility and not directly go to Tygerberg Hospital or other hospitals. 

“The Coronavirus has flu-like symptoms which all health facilities can manage and, if necessary, make the appropriate referral if a person matches the criteria and has a travel history to China in recent weeks or came into contact with someone who has and is ill.

“To minimise risk of infection the public is urged to frequently wash hands and when coughing or sneezing to cover mouth and nose with a tissue and to throw it away.”

According to the statement South Africa is following international protocol and has developed and distributed clinical guidelines and case definitions to doctors and nurses in both the public and the private sectors. These include information on how to diagnose and respond to a possible 2019-nCoV case.

“As per the national directive, the Western Cape has activated its outbreak response teams and are on high alert to detect and manage inadvertent cases that may arrive in the country.”

There have been no cases of 2019-nCoV reported in South Africa. Active surveillance is in place to identify an imported case should one occur. 

People who develop symptoms of respiratory illness including cough, fever and shortness of breath within 14 days of travel to countries where Coronavirus is known to be circulating should seek medical care early and share information about their travel history with their doctors.

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