The doctor who examined the first coronavirus-positive South African has called for calm and warned people not to panic because the illness was similar to the flu.
Dr Robyn Reed, who is based in Hilton, KwaZulu-Natal and who is herself quarantined, said the patient is recovering and his family did not appear to be infected.
On Thursday, South Africa confirmed its first case of coronavirus, a man from Hilton, who had visited Italy on holiday. The man, his wife and two children are all quarantined. Schools in Hilton closed on Friday among some public hysteria. Members of the public were seen wearing protective masks.
Reed told eNCA on Friday that Covid-19 and the flu shared similar symptoms.
“The patient himself is currently much better. I phoned his wife [on Friday] morning and she said he is doing very well. The wife and two children are currently fine. The family was tested this morning by the National Institute [for] Communicable Diseases.”
Reed said her staff was checked on Friday. “This is hugely blown out of proportion. People are making a huge hysterical panic about something that is a very bad flu. Most of the people who are going to get over it like they get over the flu.”
She appealed for calm. “…take the basic precautionary measures of hand hygiene, don’t put your hands to your face, don’t shake hands with too many people, don’t kiss and hug people, stay away from people with flu, keep about 2m between you and the next person,” Reed said.
The KwaZulu-Natal man contracted the virus while holidaying with his wife and eight friends in Italy. They returned to the country on Sunday after flying to Italy on 21 February.
He arrived at King Shaka International Airport directly from Dubai, Health Minister Zweli Mkhize said during a media briefing on Friday.
The man could not clearly pinpoint where he was infected, suspecting it could have been on the way to or from Livigno, a skii resort in the Italian Alps near the Swiss border.
The man is currently in isolation.
He said he was feeling much better than he felt a few days ago, promising to remain in self-isolation until he was given the all-clear.