South Africa has reported its first case of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19), health minister Zweli Mkhize said on Thursday. 

He said the country’s National Institute for Communicable Diseases (NICD) confirmed that a suspected case of COVID-19 had tested positive.

“The patient is a 38-year-old male who travelled to Italy with his wife. They were part of a group of 10 people and they arrived back in South Africa on March 1, 2020.
Health officials check tourists’ temperatures on arrival in hopes of containing the spread of the COVID-19 virus at the Suvarnabhumi Airport in Bangkok, Thailand, Wednesday, March 4, 2020. (AP Photo/Sakchai Lalit)

“The patient consulted a private general practitioner on March 3, with symptoms of fever, headache, malaise, a sore throat and a cough. The practice nurse took swabs and delivered it to the lab.

“The patient has been self-isolating since March 3. The couple also has two children,” said Mkhize. 

He said South Africa’s emergency operating centre (EOC) had identified contacts by interviewing the patient and doctor. 

The tracer team had been deployed to KwaZulu-Natal with epidemiologists and clinicians from NICD. The doctor had also been self-isolating.
A press briefing would be held later on Thursday to provide additional information, said Mkhize.