• 2020-02-13


    PHISC believes that the distribution of this communication as soon as possible is vital.  It will however also be discussed further at the next PHISC meetings scheduled for Wednesday 26th and Thursday 27th February 2020.

    Based on information received from the Medical Research Council (MRC), designated as the WHO-FIC Collaborating Center for the Africa Region, and reported media releases from the World Health Organisation (WHO), please take note of the following:

    • The coronavirus outbreak has been declared a Public Health Emergency of International Concern (PHEIC)(1)
    • Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, director-general of the WHO, announced on Tuesday the 11th of February 2020 at a news conference in Geneva that the new coronavirus has been named COVID-19: the CO stands for corona, the VI for virus and the D for disease(2)
    • WHO officials wanted a name that does not refer to a geographical location, animals,  an individual or a group of people(2)
    • An emergency ICD-10 code of U07.1 is assigned to this disease diagnosis (3)
    • The previous temporary/interim name was 2019-nCoV acute respiratory disease(4)


    For more information, please see the WHO website, and others below:

    -     Date these sites were last accessed:12/02/2020


    As per the SA ICD-10 Master Industry Table (MIT), code U07.1 is available and valid for use in South Africa:




    Valid_ICD10_Clinical Use



    Emergency use of U07.1




    The description of U07.1 will currently remain as “Emergency use of U07.1” on the MIT but this code should be used to report any confirmed COVID-19.


    Based on the fact that U07.1 is valid in the PDX on our MIT, and because the new description indicates “Coronavirus Disease-19” thus a defined disease/condition in its own right, the following is proposed as an interim PHISC standard forCOVID-19:


    Example 1:

    Patient admitted with a fever, coughing and shortness of breath. Pathology confirms the cause is Coronavirus disease

    *PDX: U07.1 Emergency use of U07.1

    Example 2:

    Patient admitted with severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) caused by the Coronavirus: COVID-19

    *PDX: U07.1 Emergency use of U07.1

    SDX: U04.9 Severe acute respiratory syndrome, unspecified

    Example 3:

    A patient diagnosed with confirmed COVID-19 is presenting with acute respiratory failure.

    *PDX: J96.09 Acute respiratory failure, Type unspecified

    SDX: U07.1 Emergency use of U07.1

    *Please reference GSN0001 from the South African ICD-10 Morbidity Coding Standards and Guidelines document when selecting the primary diagnosis.

    Please reference DSN2135* (Special Screening Examination) for suspected cases. Sign/symptom codes together with Z11.5 (Special screening examination for other viral diseases) should be used until pathology has definitively confirmed the cause.

    Example 4:

    Patient admitted with shortness of breath and a fever. Coronavirus disease is suspected, bloods have been sent to the laboratory for testing.

    PDX: R06.0 Dyspnoea

    SDX: R50.9 Fever, unspecified

    SDX: Z11.5 Special screening examination for other viral diseases

    Asp er the South African ICD-10 Morbidity Coding Standards and Guidelines document (April 2014), “A three month period will be allowed for the implementation of any operational changes and a six month period for any system related changes from the date of publication.” However because COVID-19 has been deemed a public health emergency, U07.1 should be used with immediate effect by PHISC members.

    *PHISC  Addendum  to  the   SA  ICD-10  CS  document  Version  3   (August  2018) https://www.phisc.net/downloads/phisc-approved-standards


    Written by:

    Erna van Rooyen

    PHISC | Clinical Coding subcommittee chair

    E-mail: phiscsecretariat@confco.co.za

    Website: www.phisc.net



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