No South African in China with coronavirus - Chinese ambassador

3 000 SA students currently in that country, of whom 165 lived in Hubei province

No South African in China with coronavirus - Chinese ambassador

18 February 2020

There have been no reported cases of South African nationals living in China having contracted the coronavirus.

This is according to China's ambassador to South Africa, Lin Songtian, who briefed media on Tuesday about Covid-19, also known as the coronavirus.

Songtian confirmed that no South Africans were among the 27 foreign nationals who had contracted the virus in China. Two of the infected foreigners have died.

The ambassador could not confirm the total number of South Africans living in China, but was able to provide statistics on South African students currently studying in the country.

He said there were 3 000 South African students currently in China, of whom 165 lived in Hubei province where it's believed the coronavirus outbreak started.

Songtianemphasised that there was no need for panic in South Africa and that the Chinese government had put comprehensive and rigorous measures in place to fight the virus and prevent it from spreading anywhere else, including South Africa.

He said the successes in the fight to contain the virus could be measured by the decrease in daily confirmed cases, as well as the number of those infected who had since been cured and released from hospital.

"The number of new confirmed cases and suspected cases has already been declining continuously for the last 10 days. The death toll remains low and the cure rate has been rising," Songtian said.

He said that, since the beginning of February, more than 5 000 new cases had been confirmed every day. This had declined since, with only 1 432 new cases confirmed in China on Monday.

According to the ambassador, since the outbreak, 12 532 patients had been cured and discharged from hospital nationwide.

He added that the coronavirus could be controlled, prevented, treated and cured by following principles of early detection, early isolation and early treatment.

Speaking about South Africa's readiness to combat a confirmed case of the virus, Songtian said the South African government was ready and that the national response system was working very well.

He said there was no need to panic as South Africa was prepared if a confirmed cases was found within its borders.

Last week, the National Institute for Communicable Diseases (NICD) confirmed that it had tested 61 people for the coronavirus and all cases had come back negative.