South Africa on Thursday reported the first case of the COVID-19 coronavirus.
"The National Institute for Communicable Diseases (NICD) confirmed that a suspected case of COVID-19 has tested positive. The patient is a 38-year-old male who travelled to Italy with his wife," Health Minister Zweli Mkhize said in a statement.
They were part of a group of 10 people and they arrived back in South Africa on March 1, the minister said.
The patient consulted a private general practitioner on March 3, with symptoms of fever, headache, malaise, a sore throat and a cough, Mkhize said.
The practice nurse took swabs and delivered it to the lab. The patient has been self-isolated since March 3.
The couple also has two children. The Emergency Operating Center (EOC) has identified the contacts by interviewing the patient and doctor.
The tracer team has been deployed to KwaZulu-Natal with epidemiologists and clinicians from NICD.
The doctor has been self-isolated as well, according to the minister.
South Africa is set to evacuate 151 citizens from the Chinese city of Wuhan as a new virus continues to spread across the globe, authorities said Sunday.
The South Africans will be evacuated in a military operation that will see them quarantined for 21 days after they arrive in the country, Health Minister Zweli Mkhize said.
All of the South Africans returning are healthy and have tested negative for the virus, but as a safety precaution they will be under quarantine upon their arrival in South Africa, Mkhize said. The airlift would take place in about 10 days, he said.
South Africa is the first country in sub-Saharan Africa to evacuate its citizens from China and affected areas.
The decision to evacuate the citizens follows pleas from families of South Africans still held up in Wuhan, the city identified as the main source of the outbreak.
South Africa's health care facilities are ready to receive the evacuated South Africans, though these sites wouldn't be made known, Mkhize said. He said the country has prepared to deal with the new virus and has designated selected public hospitals to deal with any possible infections.
South Africa hasn't recorded any confirmed COVID-19 cases within its borders. Three countries in Africa — Algeria, Egypt and Nigeria — have reported cases of the disease. Other African countries are on alert, with some health experts saying several national health systems on the continent are weak in disease surveillance and control.
South Africa confirmed last week that two citizens who had been working on the Princess Diamond cruise ship have the virus and will continue to receive treatment in Japan.
Finance Minister Tito Mboweni on Wednesday announced the formation of the South African Sovereign Wealth Fund, which will serve as a counter-cyclical fiscal tool.
"This will ensure that we continue to invest in the future generations of this country in a fiscally-prudent manner," the minister said in his Budget Speech in Parliament.
The fund has a target capital amount of about 30 billion rand (about 2 billion U.S. dollars), Mboweni said.
This came as South Africa is struggling to contain rising debt amid sluggish economic growth and a budget deficit projected to widen to a near three-decade high of 6.8 percent in the coming fiscal year.
"A Sovereign Wealth Fund is an important long-term tool for saving and investment for future generations," Mboweni said.
It can also contribute to strengthening the fiscal framework, he said.
"We must learn to save during the good times, and a fund can play an important role as a counter-cyclical fiscal tool," said the minister.
There are a variety of possible funding sources, such as the proceeds of spectrum allocation, petroleum, gas or minerals rights royalties, the sale of non-core state assets, future fiscal surpluses and money the government sets aside, according to Mboweni.
Given the legal, administrative and procedural issues involved, a relevant bill will be submitted for consideration in parliament, the minister said.
Preferred options for the establishment of a state bank are now ready, Mboweni told lawmakers.
The architecture will be that of a retail bank operating on commercial principles, he said.
Last year, Parliament passed legislation which will allow state-owned enterprises to apply for banking licences.
The proposed state bank will be subject to the Banks Act, and will have an appropriate capital structure and performance parameters on investments and loan impairments, said Mboweni.
It will be regulated by the Prudential Authority on its own merits, he said.
"We will also consolidate the currently fragmented system of national and provincial Development Finance Institutions," Mboweni said.
Hosni Mubarak, the Egyptian leader who for nearly 30 years was the resolute face of stability in the Middle East, died on Tuesday, the country's state television said, ending his days after a swift and ignominious tumble from power in the Arab world's pro-democracy upheaval. He was 91.
Throughout his rule, he was a stalwart U.S. ally, a bullwark against Islamic militancy and guardian of Egypt's peace with Israel. But to the tens of thousands of young Egyptians who rallied for 18 days of unprecedented street protests in Cairo's central Tahrir Square and elsewhere in 2011, Mubarak was a relic, a latter-day pharaoh.
They were inspired by the Tunisian revolt, and harnessed the power of social media to muster tumultuous throngs, unleashing popular anger over the graft and brutality that shadowed his rule. In the end, with millions massed in Cairo's Tahrir Square and city centers around the country and even marching to the doorstep of Mubarak's palace, the military that long nurtured him pushed him aside on Feb. 11, 2011. The generals took power, hoping to preserve what they could of the system he headed.
Though Tunisia's president fell before him, the ouster of Mubarak was the more stunning collapse in the face of the Arab Spring shaking regimes across the Arab world.
He became the only leader so far ousted in the protest wave to be imprisoned. He was convicted along with his former security chief on June 2012 and sentenced to life in prison for failing to prevent the killing of some 900 protesters during the 18-day who rose up against his autocratic regime in 2011. Both appealed the verdict and a higher court later cleared them in 2014.
The acquittal stunned many Egyptians, thousands of whom poured into central Cairo to show their anger against the court.
America's top diplomat on Wednesday asserted that South Africa's plan to permit expropriation of private property without compensation would be "disastrous" for the country's economy and its people.
Secretary of State Mike Pompeo made the comments in an address in Ethiopia on the final day of an Africa visit largely aimed at countering China's influence on the continent of more than 1.2 billion people.
"Be wary of authoritarian regimes and their empty promises," he said, without naming names. "They breed corruption, dependency and instability."
Land is a sensitive issue in South Africa, which is one of the world's most unequal countries in part because of the legacy of the former racist system of apartheid that ended in 1994.
Some members of the ruling African National Congress and the populist opposition Economic Freedom Fighters have pressed for redistribution of land, arguing that it will help right past wrongs in which many black people were forced off their property.
Critics have warned against what happened in neighboring Zimbabwe, where sometimes violent land seizures from white farmers scared away some investors and deepened that once-prosperous country's economic collapse.
South African President Cyril Ramaphosa last week in his state of the nation address said the government plans to accelerate land redistribution this year. The government also plans to table an expropriation bill "that outlines the circumstances under which expropriation of land without compensation would be permissible," he said.
Ramaphosa has called land redistribution necessary to "redress a grave historical injustice." South Africa's government calls the dispossession of land by the 1913 Natives Land Act "apartheid's original sin," and one which continues to shape land ownership today.
The president also has attempted to soothe investors by saying there will be no chaotic or illegal land grabs, mindful of the need to not scare away business in a country with unemployment at a decade high of 29%.
This is not the first time the Trump administration has spoken out on South Africa's moves to redistribute land.
In 2018, President Donald Trump claimed that South Africa was seizing farms and that many farmers were being killed. In fact, farmers have been killed for more than 20 years in what is widely seen as part of the country's high crime rate, and experts say white farmers have not been the target.
The secretary of state is the first Cabinet official to visit Africa in 18 months. He also stopped in Senegal and Angola on a trip that seeks to reassert U.S. interests on a continent that many have accused the Trump administration of largely neglecting.
China, Africa's top trading partner for a decade now, is a major U.S. concern. Numerous other global powers have turned their focus to the continent of more than 1.2 billion people, many of them young.
Analysts have said a key task for Pompeo is countering the recent messaging out of Washington. New visa restrictions target Nigerians, Sudanese, Tanzanians and Eritreans, and the Pentagon is considering cutting the U.S. military presence on the continent even as Islamic extremism spikes in West Africa's Sahel region.
"Peace in Africa will be won by Africans," Pompeo told reporters Tuesday.