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South Africa reports first case of local transmission of coronavirus

Sub-Saharan Africa has reported far fewer cases of coronavirus than in Europe or China, but some analysts worry it could spread rapidly in poor or overcrowded areas.

By: Reuters | Johannesburg |
March 12, 2020 4:24:46 pm
Coronavirus in South Africa A worker prepares to sterilize a consulting room using a robotic pulsating UV machine at the Milpark Hospital in Johannesburg, Wednesday, March 11, 2020, as a precaution against the new coronavirus. (AP)

South Africa reported the first case of local transmission of the coronavirus on Thursday, fuelling concerns that sub-Saharan African health systems could be overwhelmed if local transmission accelerates.

Sub-Saharan Africa has reported far fewer cases of coronavirus than in Europe or China, but some analysts worry it could spread rapidly in poor or overcrowded areas. (Click here to read our coverage of COVID-19)

South Africa’s Health Ministry said a 32-year-old man contracted the virus after contact with a Chinese businessman.
“All others have been by patients who had travelled abroad,” the ministry said, adding that the number of confirmed cases had risen to 17 from 13 on Wednesday.

COVID in African sub-continent A worker, left, sanitises his hands while undergoing screening at an entrance to the Milpark Hospital in Johannesburg, Wednesday, March 11, 2020, where anyone entering or exiting is required to do as a precaution against the new coronavirus. (AP)

South Africa has not reported any deaths from coronavirus.

Since the outbreak began in central China in December, more than 126,000 people have been infected by the coronavirus around the world and more than 4,600 have died, according to a Reuters tally.

Coronavirus outbreak: Follow LIVE updates here

South Africa has stepped up screening at ports of entry to try to limit the risk of new infections but has not imposed bans on travel to China or other badly affected countries.

The government dispatched a plane to repatriate more than 100 South African citizens living under lockdown conditions in the Chinese city of Wuhan. None of those being repatriated have tested positive for coronavirus.

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