Two suspected coronavirus had been reported in KwaZulu-Natal but laboratory tests proved these were false alarms, the provincial health department said on Thursday.

Spokesperson Noluthando Nkosi said one case was being handled by a departmental facility, while the other was at a private facility in Durban.

“The department is monitoring the treatment and management of these patients quite closely.”

Nkosi said the public would be notified should there be any new developments, urging people to “remain calm and avoid being misled by false statements which are peddled on social media platforms”.

On Wednesday, a patient in Limpopo had been cleared after being held in isolation at Ellisras Hospital in Lephalale.

According to the provincial health department, this had been a precautionary measure after the man developed a high fever and other symptoms consistent with a respiratory disease.

According to Al Jazeera, at least 25 countries have confirmed cases of the virus.

On Wednesday, the death toll from the outbreak in mainland China rose to 563, it reported.

KwaZulu-Natal health MEC Nomagugu Simelane-Zulu said in a statement on Thursday evening that any news reports confirming coronavirus had been found in South Africa were false, irresponsible, and sensationalist, “which has created an untruthful and misleading impression about coronavirus”.

“In responding to a media enquiry earlier this afternoon, the department issued a clear an unambiguous response that it is aware of two cases that exhibited symptoms that were not dissimilar to those of coronavirus, but pointed out that these these were subsequently found to be false alarms after laboratory tests were conducted.

“In its response, the department pointed out that at the moment, there is NO laboratory confirmation of the virus for the above-mentioned cases.

“As a precaution, one case is being handled by the department at one of its facilities, while the other one is currently being managed by a private healthcare facility in Durban.

“The department can confidently state that there are no confirmed cases because even in the cases in question, neither of the patients presented with symptoms after 14 days of the incubation period for coronavirus..

“The department is monitoring the treatment and management of these patients closely, in accordance with the extensive stringent measures and protocols that have been put in place as announced by the national department of health.”

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