South African coronavirus case came via Dubai to Durban

A general view of Cowan House school that has been closed after the first coronavirus case was confirmed in the country, in Hilton, KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa, March 6, 2020. REUTERS/Rogan Ward

JOHANNESBURG (Reuters) – South Africa’s first coronavirus case came from Italy via Dubai to the main airport in the eastern city of Durban, the health minister said on Friday.

Zweli Mkhize was briefing media in Hilton, the eastern South African town where the man with the virus is admitted to hospital after testing positive the day before. Mkhize was correcting earlier reports that the man had come through the main international airport in Johannesburg.

He added that there was currently no other South African coronavirus patient apart from the one reported already. The patient was a 38-year-old male who traveled to Italy with his wife, part of a group of 10 people and returned on March 1.

President Cyril Ramaphosa on Thursday warned that the virus would hurt travel and tourism, and have a negative impact on South Africa’s already struggling economy, but urged citizens not to panic.

Since the coronavirus outbreak began in the central Chinese city of Wuhan in December, it has infected almost 100,000 people worldwide and killed more than 3,000, mostly in China.

It had largely spared sub-Saharan Africa, but since last month has been detected in Nigeria, Senegal, South Africa and on Friday the first case was reported in Cameroon.

Last week, Ramaphosa ordered the repatriation of nearly 200 citizens from Wuhan. Mkhize said none of those citizens, who are expected to return home in the next few days, had contracted the virus.

Reporting by Tim Cocks; Editing by Olivia Kumwenda-Mtambo

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