CAPE TOWN, March 12 (Xinhua) -- The South African government on Thursday reassured the public that every precaution is being taken to safeguard the country against any surge of coronavirus.
The government urges all South Africans to continually practice preventative measures to stop the transmission and spread of the virus, officially named as Covid-19, Minister in the Presidency Jackson Mthembu said at a press briefing in Cape Town following Wednesday's cabinet meeting.
The came after Minister of Health Zweli Mkhize reported four more confirmed cases of Covid-19 earlier in the day, including the first locally transmitted case.
The total number of infections has risen to 17 since March 5 when the country reported its first case. South Africa so far has the highest number of Covid-19 cases in sub-Sahara Africa.
Mthembu appealed to all to respect the privacy of Covid-19 patients and their families.
Eight Cape Town schools closed gates over coronavirus fears on Thursday.
Amid growing panic among the public, Mthembu said the government strongly cautions against the dissemination of any false information related to the virus so as to prevent the spread of fear, stigma and discrimination within the society.
Led by the Minister of Health, an Inter-Ministerial Committee, tasked to deal with Covid-19, has been working with the National Institute for Communicable Diseases (NICD) in tracking and containing the virus, while assisting those affected by it and continuously updating the nation, Mthembu said.
Most provinces have deferred communication on this Covid-19 matter to the Minister of Health because of its national and international importance, said Mthembu.
"We urge all other provinces to also follow suit to ensure centralization of communication and therefore avoid any unintended confusion and uncoordinated messaging," he said.
President Cyril Ramaphosa will soon update political parties represented in Parliament as well as church leaders on Covid-19, said Mthembu.