South Africa Becomes 3rd Sub-Saharan African Country To Confirm A Coronavirus Case

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Written by Peter Pedroncelli
Coronavirus case
South Africa’s first confirmed case of coronavirus is a 38-year-old man who traveled to Italy and returned to South Africa on March 1. In Feb. 6, 2020, photo, a masked woman walks in a corridor of a shopping mall in Kitwe, Zambia. Image: AP Photo/Emmanuel Mwiche

South Africa confirmed its first case of coronavirus after a 38-year-old man who traveled to Italy tested positive for the infection.

The man traveled to Italy with his wife and returned to South Africa on March 1 before visiting a doctor two days later. Testing confirmed that he was infected, TheSowetan reports.

On the instructions of his doctor, the patient has been self-isolating since March 3. The doctor who encountered the patient has also been in self-imposed isolation.

The coronavirus has been responsible for more than 3,300 deaths and 95,000 infections worldwide. Originating in the city of Wuhan in China, it has since spread to more than 83 countries.

The infected man and his wife were part of a group of 10 people that arrived back in South Africa from Italy, arriving at Johannesburg’s O.R. Tambo airport.

A team of epidemiologists and clinicians from South Africa’s National Institute for Communicable Diseases are now tracking down and testing individuals who the infected man would have come into contact with, including the eight others he traveled to Italy with, TheSouthAfrican reports.

The confirmed case in South Africa’s KwaZulu Natal province makes it the third sub-Saharan African country to report the virus, according to Bloomberg.

On Feb. 28, Nigeria was the first sub-Saharan African country to confirm a coronavirus case. On Feb. 14, Egypt was the first African country to find a positive case.

There have been 28 confirmed cases thus far in Egypt (3), Algeria (17), Morocco (1), Tunisia (1), Senegal (1) and Nigeria (4) but nothing resembling the rapid spread of the virus in countries including China, Iran, South Korea, and Italy where confirmed cases are in the thousands.

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Experts consider the African continent to be at high risk due to its close links with China and the relatively weak health systems in some countries, SCMP reports.

Global health officials and researchers are concerned that coronavirus cases might be going undetected in some countries that are considered at high risk of an outbreak but are reporting fewer cases than expected, or none at all, according to VOA.