South Africa’s first case of the Coronavirus
On the first day of March 2020, a flight arrived with passengers from Milan, the Metropolitan city of Italy.
Two days later, one of the travellers on board that flight, an Italian man, who had arrived in the company of his wife and 8 others, presented certain symptoms which appeared to be similar to that of the coronavirus.
The private doctor they consulted advised him to observe necessary self-isolation, her wife included.
On the 5th of March, the South African minister of health, Zweli Mkhize, publicly announced, that the nation had recorded its first confirmed case of coronavirus, a returnee from Milan, Italy.
In response, specialists, nurses, doctors and other healthcare workers from the National Institute for Communicable Diseases (NICD) were immediately deployed to KwaZulu – Natal Province, popularly known as KZN.
The patient was taken to Grey’s Hospital in Pietermaritzburg.
Second case of the virus
On the 7th of March, two days after the official report of the first COVID-19 in South Africa, the second case of the virus was confirmed and reported.
One of the women who travelled in the company of the Italian man has tested positive. This became the first reported case of coronavirus in the province of Gauteng.
Subsequent reports across the country.
1. Six new cases were reported on the 11th of March. One of the recorded cases was from the travel group of the 10 persons who arrived in South Africa from Italy earlier that month.
The other five cases appeared to be unrelated to the original case and travel history. They, however, had a travel history to other European countries.
2. The next day, three extra cases were recorded including Mpumalanga province’s first case of the virus.
It was also announced that amongst these three cases, was the first case of local transmission, and also the first case of the virus in Free State province.
Later in the day, the statement was withdrawn by the NICD who confirmed that the results were negative and the total number of cases was 16.
3. On the 15th of March, the South African President, Cyril Ramaphosa announced to the citizens that the first case of local transmission of the virus had been recorded although the government laboratories had not yet confirmed this.
4. The next day, Limpopo province announced its first case of the virus.
5. Two days after President Ramaphosa announced that the country had recorded a case of local transmission, government laboratories confirmed this with four cases in Gauteng, three cases in KZN and one in Western Cape province.
Mpumalanga province also announced its first case of local transmission, less than twenty-four hours later.
6. On the 19th of March, Zweli Mkhize, the South African Minister of Health, suggested that about two-third of the population would be infected with the virus, according to Europe’s predicted estimate on population infection.
7. Friday 20th of March, Free State province recorded 7 cases. This made it 6 out of 9 provinces that had been affected by the spread of the virus.
Five of the patients had recently returned from Israel, France and Texas. Prior to the time they began showing symptoms, these patients had carried on with their normal life and even attended a church service with two hundred people in attendance.
With this, O.R Tambo International Airport began isolating foreigners and returning them to their countries of origin.
8. On the 21st of March, the 7th province, Eastern Capes recorded its first case of the coronavirus.
9. By the 24th of March, all 9 provinces in the country had all reported cases of the virus with the announcement of the recorded cases in Northern Cape and Northwest Cape provinces.
Travel ban in South Africa due to coronavirus
On the 15th of March, President Ramaphosa declared a national state of disaster and also a partial travel ban which stated that international and domestic passenger flights were not allowed into the country, with the exception of flights authorised by the ministry of transport, especially for the evacuation of South African nationals stranded in other countries and the repatriation of stranded persons in South Africa.
All borders were also closed down except designated ports of entry for the transportation of essentials such as fuel, cargo and goods.
Lockdown in South Africa due to coronavirus
Three days later, all schools were instructed to close down and the government prohibited gatherings of over 100 people. This was later reduced to 50 persons and only for funeral programmes.
On the 23rd day of March, President Ramaphosa issued a 21-day lockdown, effective from the 27th of March to end on the 16th of April. The South African National defence force was deployed to ensure that all citizens strictly adhered to the lockdown rules.
Police and Military interference.
The police and military have been criticized for using excessive force and abuse on citizens and restricting persons filming and recording such instances of misuse of power.
The activist group, Right2Know released a statement saying that the police had no right to prevent filming or recording as a constitutional right.
By the 5th day, 3 people had died due to force by the military. This equalled the number of coronavirus-related deaths.
On the 3rd of April, the Independent Police Investigative Directorate(IPID) announced that they were investigating 8 deaths involving the police.
At the end of the first week of lockdown, 2,289 people had been arrested for violating lockdown orders with another 17,000 people arrested for other crimes.
Testing for coronavirus in South Africa
At the beginning of April, 67 mobile testing units were established in South Africa. Forty-seven had been tested for the virus including some drive-through facilities.
Total figures of coronavirus in South Africa
As at 7th of April, 1,749 confirmed coronavirus cases have been recorded in South Africa with 13 deaths and 95 recoveries.