The National Institute for Communicable Diseases (NICD) has announced that together with the Health Department it has developed and distributed clinical guidelines and case definitions for doctors and nurses in both the public and private sectors to better detect, identify and respond to a possible 2019-nCoV case in South Africa.
News24 reports that this includes guidance on what samples to collect to confirm the diagnosis, as well as how to best manage the case clinically and to prevent a spread to others while the diagnosis is being made.
“Furthermore, South Africa has in place routine fever screening at ports of entry, guidance documents, including the case definitions and what to do should a suspected case be identified have been distributed to staff at the ports,” the NICD said.
The report says this was confirmed by new Western Cape Health head Dr Keith Cloete. “There is a daily update,” said Cloete. “Tygerberg Hospital is geared to be able to go in a space of two hours if you need to isolate a case,” he said by way of example.
This assistance applies to healthcare workers too. According to the report, Cloete is confident that other global virus outbreaks, such as Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome and an outbreak of Diphtheria in the Helderberg, had further improved response times.
The department is connected to the NICD’s surveillance system, as well as global surveillance systems to monitor it.
As the death toll from the coronavirus continues to climb, the South African Health Department said it stepped up efforts to detect the virus on home soil. Eyewitness News reports that as the virus continues to spread, many countries have implemented travel bans and quarantines.
Health Department spokesperson Popo Maja said South Africa was prepared. “We have the equipment to check a person’s temperature at the airport, as we know the temperature is affected when someone has an infection.”
The Health Department said port health authorities have enhanced surveillance for all travellers from Asia, especially China, following an outbreak of coronavirus in the country, reports The Times.
OR Tambo International Airport is the only port of entry for direct flights from Asia, it added, saying the measures had been put in place due to the current risk the virus could be imported to South Africa.Full News24 report NICD communique NICD alert World Health Organisation material Full Eyewitness News report Full report in The Times