Coronavirus: South Africa’s first local transmission cases include four children under five

South Africa has extended its travel ban to stop the spread of the coronavirus outbreak as officials confirmed its first cases of local transmission – including four children aged five and under.

The boys – a five-year-old, two aged three and a two-year-old – have never travelled abroad, the country’s health ministry said.

“It is notable that there are eight cases of local transmission,” said Health Minister Dr Zwelini Mkhize.

The other four COVID-19 cases were adults with either no history of domestic or international travel.

On Sunday, President Cyril Ramaphosa declared a state of disaster and imposed a travel ban on foreign nationals from eight high-risk countries including the UK, US, Italy, Iran, South Korea, Spain, Germany and China.

Announcing the latest coronavirus infections on Tuesday, the health minister said the number of people who had tested positive for COVID-19 had risen to 85 from 62 the day before.

The travel ban was extended to Switzerland and France.

In addition, a cruise ship has been quarantined outside the port of Cape Town as a precaution after a crew member of a cargo ship who shared a flight with some passengers showed coronavirus symptoms.

The Transnet National Ports Authority (TNPA) confirmed that two vessels “are being held off port limits” due to suspected COVID-19 cases.

A crew member onboard the MV Corona cargo ship was on a flight with a fellow crew member and six passengers who boarded the German AIDAmira cruise ship.

The eight people have been evacuated and quarantined, and Transnet says the remaining cruise ship passengers are being quarantined and tested.

Details of the four young children being diagnosed with the virus comes as more cases are beginning to emerge of children contracting the disease around the globe.

A mother and father in Manchester in the UK are self-isolating after their nine-month-old son was found to have been infected, while a second newborn baby has tested positive for COVID-19 in Britain and is being treated at James Paget University Hospital in Norfolk.

The mayor of Paterson in New Jersey in the US said on Tuesday that a couple and their five-year-old son had tested positive for the coronavirus and were in self-quarantine.

New findings in a study of more than 2,000 children in China – a third of laboratory confirmed cases and two-thirds of suspected cases – suggests the vast majority of children who contract the virus are “asymptomatic” or experience “mild or moderate” symptoms.

Around 6% experienced severe or critical illness. One 14-year-old boy from Hubei province – where the coronavirus outbreak started in December 2019 – died in February.

“Children of all ages appeared susceptible to COVID-19, and there was no significant gender difference,” academics from across China concluded in their report, published in the journal Pediatrics this week.

In other developments across the globe:

  • Spanish government says all hotels in Spain will close from 24 March
  • All schools in Scotland and Wales to close on Friday
  • Canada and the United States agree to ban non-essential travel between the countries
  • Iran reports another 147 coronavirus deaths – its biggest 24-hour rise, taking the death toll to 1,135
  • A town in northern Italy has reportedly stopped all new coronavirus infections as part of a successful experiment.
  • Stock markets have gone back into reverse after a short-lived boost
  • European Union leaders have agreed to shut down the bloc’s external borders for 30 days
  • French Prime Minister Edouard Philippe says the UK needs to ramp up its action on coronavirus or “it will be difficult for us to accept British nationals within our territory”
  • Eurovision Song Contest and Glastonbury Festival have been cancelled
  • Turkey reports its first coronavirus death
  • Whole of Belgium goes into lockdown, while Malaysia is in partial lockdown after its first two COVID-19 deaths
  • World’s 20 biggest economies are planning a G20 virtual meeting for a co-ordinated COVID-19 response
  • The UAE bans its citizens from travelling abroad
  • Libya introduces a curfew between 6pm and 6am to stop the spread of the coronavirus
  • Taiwan bans foreign nationals from entering the island
  • Road blocks across Venezuela are affecting food supplies
  • West Virginia becomes the last US state to report a positive case of COVID-19
  • North Korean state media reports leader Kim Jong Un has admitted the country lacks modern medical facilities
  • Confirmed and suspected cases of coronavirus top more than 200,000 globally, including more than 8,000 deaths, according to Johns Hopkins University, which is tracking the outbreak

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