President Ramaphosa urges calm as South Africa confirms first COVID-19 case

South African President Cyril Raaphosa on Thursday 5 March 2020 called for calm as South Africa reported its first confirmed case of COVID-19. /PHOTO Courtesy: South African Presidency

South African President Cyril Ramaphosa has called for calm in the country following the announcement of its first confirmed case of COVID-19.

The case now takes the number of African countries that have reported confirmed cases of the virus to seven after Algeria, Egypt, Nigeria, Tunisia, Senegal and Morocco.

“South Africans should not panic. We should be alert so that if people either show signs of some of the symptoms they should immediately be able to get medical assistance,” President Ramaphosa said.

The pneumonia outbreak was first reported in the city of Wuhan, central China’s Hubei Province, in December 2019. Experts have attributed the outbreak to a novel coronavirus that has since spread across China and abroad.

“We are not the only country that is affected. Many more countries have been affected and it looks like it will keep on spreading to a number of countries in the world. The key question is whether we are ready and prepared and just this morning I was quite impressed with the level of preparedness in terms of being able to identify what it is and immediately having the person isolated,” President Ramaphosa said.

The case in South Africa comes as the Director General of the World Health Organization (WHO), Tedros Adhanom, called out fake news as a threat to the fight against COVID-19. He urged the media to help dispel any misleading information within the public space.

“The fight against rumours and misinformation is a vital part of the battle against this coronavirus. We rely on you to make sure people have accurate information about the threat they face, and how to protect themselves and others,” he said in a press briefing on Thursday.