An Eastern Cape woman could face criminal charges after lying about having the deadly Covid-19 virus, the provincial health department said on Sunday.

Department spokesperson Sizwe Kupelo said the woman posed as a novel coronavirus patient at the Grey Hospital in King William’s Town on Saturday.

Kupelo said the woman claimed to be an employee of the 38-year-old man who was last week diagnosed as the first person in South Africa to have contracted the disease.

The man was diagnosed with Covid-19 after returning from Italy.

The woman refused to give staff her information.

“Upon verification and speaking with her family, it was established the woman had fabricated the story as her relatives confirmed she is unemployed.

“Understandably, doctors and nurses ran around testing the woman and taking steps to ensure the woman was isolated.”

Kupelo said the woman’s false claims caused “unnecessary panic” among the hospital staff and the province.

“This was a childish and selfish hoax by the woman that is condemned with the contempt it deserves.”

The department is expected to open a criminal case against the woman.

Kupelo also condemned a hoax voice note doing the rounds on social media by a man who claimed that there had been a confirmed coronavirus case at Life Beacon Bay Hospital in East London.

“People who yearn for attention should seek other means to get the spotlight instead of lying about a global health crisis.”

On Saturday, minister of health Dr Zweli Mkhize confirmed a second case of the coronavirus (Covid-19) in the country and on Sunday confirmed a third case.