Traveller from India treated for Covid-19 at KZN hospital

Traveller from India treated for Covid-19 at KZN hospital

The Netcare Hospital Group has confirmed that a patient who recently travelled from India was treated in isolation for Covid-19 at a hospital in KwaZulu-Natal.

Coronavirus test
Coronavirus test/ iStock

Senior clinical adviser and head of infection control of Netcare’s hospital division, Dr Caroline Maslo, says the hospital doesn’t have full control of new cases entering the country.

“Although COVID-19 screening is performed at South African border posts, this, unfortunately, cannot fully rule out new cases and potentially new variants entering our country, either directly from their country of origin or via connecting routes,” said Maslo in a statement released on Monday evening.

She adds that the hospital is vigilant and Covid-19 case numbers were extremely low in Netcare's hospitals.

“We remain vigilant in maintaining strict safety precautions in our facilities and apply an abundance of caution in treating all patients.

“Generally, South Africa's COVID-19 test positivity rate is still relatively low at 5%, and although we remain cautiously optimistic for now, it remains vital that every person does their part and practises prevention measures including social distancing, hand washing, sanitising, wearing a facemask covering both the mouth and nose and avoiding poorly ventilated areas,” says Maslo.

Maslo says the National Institute for Communicable Diseases (NICD) would be better placed to advise on any new variants detected in South Africa, and they may differ from the strains that have been in circulation in the country.

Meanwhile, Health Minister Dr Zweli Mkhize says the department is aware of concerns raised about people coming from India.

“We wish to reassure citizens that there are no direct flights from India and that all our ports of entry employ stringent containment procedures to minimise the importation of COVID-19.

“We are currently on high alert to screen passengers and test those who require further assessment,” says Mkhize.

The minister says the country has not yet detected the B.1.617 variant.

“We have not detected the B.1.617 variant as yet in South Africa, however, we have consulted members of the genomics team who have informed us that they have intensified their surveillance not only to ensure that variant can be detected quickly but also to understand what the implications are for us in the context of B.1.351 being the dominant variant in South Africa,” adds Mkhize in the statement on Monday evening.

Mkhize adds that the department has consulted the Ministerial Advisory Committee to advise on the approach to the management of travellers from countries that have epidemics driven by variants of concern.

“Their advice will assist us to determine the next steps forward, of which government will announce these determinations in due course.

“For now, we ask for calm to prevail as we continue to adhere to the health protocols, tighten containment measures at our ports of entry and keep a balance as we maintain economic activity,” says Mkhize.


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