First positive COVID-19 case recorded in Kruger National Park

Posted on 27 March 2020

SANParks has confirmed its first positive case of COVID-19 recorded in the Kruger National Park.

On Friday 27 March SANParks announced that a French visitor to the park has tested positive for the coronavirus.

According to SANParks, the 25-year-old male was part of a group of six who had booked a two-night stay at the national park. The tour group arrived in the country on 14 March 2020 and entered the Kruger National Park three days later on 17 March, departing on 19 March.

Before leaving the park, the man consulted Kruger’s resident doctor as he suspected a case of malaria, rather than the coronavirus. The park doctor advised that he be tested for COVID-19 as his symptoms included a fever of 37.3°C and complaints of a sore throat. The Kruger doctor administered the test, as per the National Department of Health (NDoH) regulations. The tourist and his group departed for KwaZulu-Natal thereafter, where they were attended to by the department’s personnel. The other five tourists were placed in self-isolation.

Following the positive test results, the Department of Health officials in Mpumalanga visited Skukuza to track down staff who may have had contact with this group and notified all possible contacts, who’ll be closely monitored over the next 14 days as per the Department’s regulations.

Staff in the national parks are thought to have minimal contact with visitors and are meant to observe the sanitising protocols as per SANParks’ approved Standard Operating Procedures and prescribed by the World Health Organisation and NDoH guidelines. SANParks maintains that its staff’s chances of contracting the coronavirus are relatively low for these reasons, but naturally will comply with national guidelines and continue to monitor staff, adapting visitor management and new sanitation systems as the situation unfolds.

Image: Chris Davies

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