The South African government is expected to introduce travel restrictions from some foreign countries and to recommend that all mass events in the country be cancelled or postponed in an effort to contain the spread of the Coronavirus (COVID-19) which the World Health Organisation this week declared a global pandemic.
On Saturday, Health Minister Zweli Mkhize announced that the number of South Africans who had contracted the coronavirus had risen by 14 since Friday to reach 38, all of whom had recently returned from abroad.
Most of the countries they visited were in Europe though an increasing number seem to have been infected in the US.
So far Pretoria has not imposed travel restrictions into South Africa or advised South Africans against travelling to any other countries which have experienced unusually high numbers of coronavirus infections.
Many other countries have introduced these kinds of restrictions. Among the most drastic have been those of the United States which this past week suspended all entry into the US of foreigners from.
Meanwhile, Seychelles News Agency reports that two Seychellois who arrived from Italy have tested positive for the COVID-19.
Public Health Commissioner Jude Gedeon told SBC television on Saturday when the two landed, one only had a dry cough and when both were tested they came out positive.
The two patients were transferred from the quarantine facility at Perseverance to the isolation unit.
The two cases are the first confirmed instances of the virus touching the isolated island nation, which had taken strong steps to try to prevent foreign tourists from bringing the infectious disease to the population of 95,000.
Gedeon said that although the two patients “are not showing serious symptoms we decided to put them in the isolation unit at Anse Royale for them to receive treatment and for us to monitor them closely. At this moment no one of the two has a fever.”
He added that the two positive cases have activated the other stages of the prevention and preparedness plan.
New Zimbabwe reports that Namibia President Hage Geingob has suspended the country’s Independence Celebrations which had been scheduled for March 21 because of two confirmed cases of coronavirus.
Namibia becomes the third southern African country after South Africa and Swaziland to confirm cases of the coronavirus officially.
In a statement Saturday, Geingob said: “The Namibian government is suspending inbound and outbound travel to and from Qatar, Ethiopia and Germany with immediate effect for a period of 30 days.
“All big gatherings are suspended for a period of 30 days and lockdown of Windhoek Gymnasium with immediate effect for a period of two weeks.”
The President also suspended all travels by Namibian government officials, including State Owned Enterprises.
Meanwhile, the World Health Organisation (WHO) Director General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus wrote on Twitter Saturday that the coronavirus had claimed 5,000 lives across the globe.
“This is a tragic milestone. Europe has now become the epicentre of the pandemic, with more reported cases and deaths than the rest of the world combined, apart from China,” Ghebreyesus said.