Wednesday, 22 January 2020 11:10


The National Institute for Communicable Diseases (NICD) says it has measures in place to guard against the spread of the pneumonia-like Coronavirus from China into South Africa.

The NICD's Cheryl Cohen said they are actively testing for the virus in South Africa, even though very little is know about how it is being transmitted. 

"Coronaviruses are a family of viruses that are mostly found in animals, but some of them can actually cause respiratory diseases in humans, " explains Cohen. 

"It appears as if the vast majority of cases are actually acquired through direct exposure form material from the affected animal or environmental source," she said, but notes that the virus can mutate to be transmitted directly between people.

The outbreak of a new coronavirus stemming from Wuhan,China, has killed nine people and afflicted more than 400 others ahead of the Lunar New Year holiday during which hundreds of millions of people are expected to travel. 

As of Wednesday morning, it has now spread beyond Asia,with one case confirmed in Washington State,U.S.

According to the NICD, the risk for SA to be effected by the Caronavirus is still low at this time. 

* Additional reporting by AFP.