City on high alert

Tygerberg Hospital is a designated facility for the isolation of coronavirus patients in Cape Town.

As the country received news of its first coronavirus patients, the City of Cape Town held a briefing with Cape Town Tourism and the MEC for Health in Western Cape, Dr Nomafrench Mbombo on Thursday March 5.

The session was attended by tourism, travel and hospitality leaders, the Consular Corps and interested stakeholders who were concerned about the possible negative impact that Covid-19 may have on this vital sector.

At the briefing, Cape Town Tourism confirmed that the World Travel Market (WTM) Africa would go ahead next month.

Cape Town Tourism CEO, Enver Duminy, said while Cape Town had no confirmed cases of Covid-19 currently, the city was preparing a toolkit for the local tourism industry who may have questions – this would be available on their website, he said.

Mr Duminy said they are already seeing a substantial drop in tourism and travel globally, and an expected drop of 10% from key source markets over the coming months.

At a media meeting last week Dr Mbombo said the situation was changing so fast. As of Monday March 9 there were 114 458 Covid-19 confirmed cases globally, with a 3.4% mortality rate. The virus is quickly evolving and has spread to 109 countries and one cruise liner.

Following the diagnosis of the first African patient with Covid-19 on Thursday February 27 in Nigeria, Dr Mbombo said it was not if the virus arrived but when.

Three days later a 38-year-old man from KwaZulu-Natal tested positive for the virus after returning from a holiday with his family in Italy.

His wife has since tested positive in self-quarantine and by early this week there were seven cases confirmed in the country.

Western Cape Department of Health head of department, Dr Keith Cloete, said when people entered the country via ports and airports, if they suffered symptoms of a dry cough and fever and had a history of being in contact with someone affected by the virus, they were tested.

Dr Mbombo demonstrated coughing or sneezing into the elbow, as opposed to the hand, and to emphasised creating a culture of washing hands.

Tygerberg Hospital reported a “suspected case” of novel coronavirus disease, COVID-19, in Parow.

However, the man lied to health officials about a trip to a coronavirus-hit country in order to receive medical treatment on Friday March 6.

Provincial health spokesperson Mark van der Heever said the person used the Covid-19 situation for his personal gain to be attended to soonest.

He said the man did show signs that he could be suffering from coronavirus but did not meet the case definition and was discharged.

Mr Van der Heever says it’s unclear whether any action could be taken against the man and a local health team is looking into the matter.

There are currently no cases in the Western Cape and the department is asking the public not to use the Covid-19 situation for personal gain as this leads to the misuse of resources and unnecessary panic.

Yesterday, Wednesday March 11, media were to visit the isolation ward dedicated to dealing with cases of the virus at Tygerberg Hospital. After the tour the ward will be decontaminated.

Tygerberg Hospital is a designated facility for the isolation of coronavirus patients in Cape Town. Groote Schuur Hospital and the Red Cross War Memorial Hospital are on standby if the need arises.

On Saturday, a 39-year-old woman from Gauteng, who is said to have had close contact with the couple, also tested positive. They were part of a group of 10 people and they arrived back in South Africa on Sunday March 1. The man consulted a private general practitioner two days later, with symptoms of fever, headache, malaise, a sore throat and a cough.

The practice nurse took swabs and delivered them to a lab where they tested positive for the virus. The patient has been self-isolating since Tuesday March 3 and is doing well.

Infectious Disease specialist/virologist, Dr Jantjie Taljaard of Tygerberg Hospital, said Covid-19 symptoms were similar to those of tuberculosis (TB) and started with a dry cough.

However, TB comes over time. He said people with a lowered immune systems could be worse affected by the virus than those with a strong immune system.

* According to the WHO there are seven coronavirus including the new virus.

This new virus is not heat-resistant and will be killed by 26/27 degrees C.

Vaccine: China believes that Covid-19 has mutated into two strains, one more aggressive than the other, which could make developing a vaccine more complicated.

The cause: scientists studying Covid-19 genetic code have linked it to bats of which there are a wide range of zoonotic viruses, including Ebola, HIV and rabies. Bats were not sold at a seafood wholesale market in Wuhan, China where the first Covid-19 case was reported in December, but they may have infected live chickens or other animals sold there.

umans because hygiene standards are difficult to maintain if live animals are being kept and butchered on site.

Typically, they are also densely packed.

Symptoms: A dry cough with no runny nose.

* It will first infect the throat, which will be sore and last three to four days;

* Acute breathing similar to Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) virus but not as deadly;

* Nasal congestion that feels like you are drowning;

* Flu-like but not necessarily with fever;

Get tested if you have travelled to an area where the virus has been confirmed or have come into contact with a person who has the virus.

What to do: If you think you are infected, inform the doctor before you go rather than wait in the waiting room with other people.

Prevention: like cold and flu bugs, the virus is spread via droplets when a person coughs or sneezes.

The droplets land on surfaces and are picked up on the hands of others and spread further.

People catch the virus when they touch their infected hands to their mouth, nose or eyes.

Therefore, keep your hands clean by washing them frequently with soap and water or a hand sanitising gel.

Stay up-dated at www.westerncape.gov.za/coronavirus or contact the public hotline at 08600 029 999.