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Infectious Diseases

Updated 06 April 2020

Coronavirus morning update: Another 2 deaths in SA, UK PM in hospital, and is the '2m rule' enough?

Your latest coronavirus news: Deaths in SA rise to eleven, United Kingdom Prime Minister Boris Johnson admitted to hospital, and is two metres enough for physical distancing?

WHAT'S HAPPENING IN SA

Cases update: 

The latest number of confirmed cases is 1 655.

The health department also confirmed that there are now 11 deaths in the country.

So far, 56 873 tests have been conducted.

READ MORE |All the confirmed cases of coronavirus in SA

Latest news:

A massive housing initiative is under way to reduce the number of people living in congested areas in a bid to fight the spread of the deadly coronavirus.

McIntosh Polela, spokesperson for the Department of Human Settlements, told News24 a team of senior officials is currently planning to move some residents to ease population density in certain areas.

The plan is currently in the consultation phase, Polela added.

There are 29 informal settlements across South Africa which have been identified for the project, including four metros in KwaZulu-Natal, Eastern Cape, Western Cape and Gauteng.

READ MORE | SA scrambles to finalise housing plan for populated areas: 'You can’t put a cost on human lives'

A wedding day has turned into a nightmare for a KwaZulu-Natal bride and groom, as well as their wedding guests, who were arrested on Sunday for contravening lockdown regulations.

Love was not the only thing the couple took a chance on, as they went ahead with their special day despite regulations prohibiting gatherings of more than 50 people.

According to SAPS national spokesperson Brigadier Vish Naidoo, about 50 people, including the pastor and bridal couple, were arrested in Hlabisa during the ceremony.

“They are likely to be charged with the contravention of the regulations of the Disaster Management Act 2002,” Naidoo said.

READ MORE | Bride and gloom: KZN couple arrested on wedding day

Minister of Human Settlements, Water and Sanitation Lindiwe Sisulu appealed to municipalities to refrain from abruptly cutting water supply to residents because it impinged on their basic right to access clean water, while at the same time hindering the government's effort to fight Covid-19.

"The government has embarked on a national drive to encourage all South Africans to wash their hands with soap and water regularly to stem the tide of the coronavirus," Sisulu said on Sunday.

She added that her department's call centre had fielded thousands of calls with complaints about municipalities cutting the water supply of people who were in arrears or, at times, for "no apparent reason".

Most of the complaints come from the Western Cape, KwaZulu-Natal and Gauteng.

READ MORE | Coronavirus: Switch on disconnected water immediately, urges Sisulu

WHAT'S HAPPENING IN THE REST OF THE WORLD 

Cases update:

For the latest global data, follow this interactive map from Johns Hopkins University & Medicine.

Total cases were more than 1 275 000, and deaths more than 69 400.

The United States had more than 330 000 cases, while Spain, Italy and Germany had more than 100 000.

Italy had close to 16 000 deaths.

READ MORE | All the confirmed cases worldwide

Latest news:

UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson has been admitted to hospital after presenting with Covid-19 symptoms, according to his office.

This comes just two hours after he thanked people for staying at home in a bid to curb the virus. "Stay home, protect the NHS and save lives," he tweeted.

"This is a precautionary step, as the prime minister continues to have persistent symptoms of coronavirus ten days after testing positive for the virus," Downing Street said.

Johnson, 55, became the most high-profile world leader to contract the virus when he announced he had tested positive test 10 days ago.

READ MORE | UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson admitted to hospital over 'persistent' Covid-19 symptoms

One day, the battle against the novel coronavirus will be won. But the world that emerges may look very different from the one we lived in before the pandemic began.

Over 60,000 people have lost their lives to Covid-19 and there are a more than a million confirmed cases with the outbreak yet to reach its peak across the developed and emerging world.

But on top of the tragic human toll, the coronavirus also threatens incalculable social, economic and political costs, and to trigger a wave of change that will shape our world for years to come.

The shutdown imposed to slow the spread of the virus could push some economies into full-scale meltdown. Financial markets may never recover to pre-crisis levels.

READ MORE | After coronavirus: What world will we live in?

With those worst hit by the virus facing an agonising death from asphyxia, palliative care specialists in France are struggling amid drug shortages to give victims the most humane end possible.

As the epidemic gathers pace, care teams in the badly hit east of the country have been sharing their experiences of how they made tough decisions on who should and should not be given precious intensive care beds.

For some patients, such treatment may be both pointless and cruel, argued Professor Olivier Guerin, who heads the French Gerontology and Geriatrics Society (SFGG).

"Making the choice of who should be resuscitated is what intensive care teams do all the time," he said.

READ MORE | France struggles to give virus victims dignified deaths

Pope Francis called for courage in the face of the coronavirus pandemic as he delivered Palm Sunday mass by livestream instead of before Saint Peter's Square crowds.

The Vatican is abandoning centuries of tradition and refraining from public celebrations of the official start of the Catholic world's Holy Week.

Pope Francis called the pandemic a tragedy on Sunday that must be faced with courage and hope.

"Today, in the tragedy of a pandemic, in the face of the many false securities that have now crumbled, in the face of so many hopes betrayed, in the sense of abandonment that weighs upon our hearts, Jesus says to each one of us: 'Courage, open your heart to my love'," the pope said.

READ MORE | Pope livestreams Palm Sunday mass due to virus 'tragedy'

Queen Elizabeth has only addressed the UK during tough times thrice before, but on Sunday evening, in a televised broadcast, Her Majesty made a rare, "deeply personal" speech, as Buckingham Palace called it.

"I am speaking to you at what I know is an increasingly challenging time," she said. "A time of disruption in the life of our country; a disruption that has brought grief to some, financial difficulties to many, and enormous changes to the daily lives of us all."

The Queen went on to thank healthcare workers on the front line, as well as those carrying out essential roles who "selflessly continue their day-to-day duties outside the home in support of us all".

"I am sure the nation will join me in assuring you that what you do is appreciated and every hour of your hard work brings us closer to a return to more normal times."

READ MORE | Queen Elizabeth in rare speech amid Covid-19 crisis: 'Better days will return'

LATEST RESEARCH

In an effort to mitigate the spread of the new coronavirus, physical distancing has been initiated by many countries around the world. However, while the World Health Organization (WHO) and medical experts advise maintaining a distance of 1–2m from others, a researcher from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) believes it isn't enough.

Lydia Bourouiba, an associate professor at MIT, has researched the dynamics of exhalations (such as coughs and sneezes) for years at The Fluid Dynamics of Disease Transmission Laboratory.

Her research found that exhalations cause "gaseous clouds" that can travel up to 8m. And more recent research, also carried out by Bourouiba, states that peak exhalation speeds are up to 30m per second.

More than this, experts are also trying to determine whether this virus spreads through both large droplets and smaller droplets. According to Bourouiba's research, when a person coughs or sneezes, it emits these gaseous clouds that can carry droplets of different sizes. Sneezing and coughing into your elbow, she added, does not entirely avoid this cloud.

READ MORE | Why physical distancing is important - but an expert thinks the '2m rule' may not be enough

HEALTH TIPS (as recommended by the NICD and WHO)

• Avoid contact with people who have respiratory infections 

• Maintain physical distancing – stay at least one metre away from somebody who is coughing or sneezing

• Practise frequent hand-washing, especially after direct contact with ill people or their environment

• Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth, as your hands touch many surfaces and could potentially transfer the virus

• Practise respiratory hygiene – cover your mouth with your bent elbow or tissue when you cough or sneeze. Remember to dispose the tissue immediately after use.

READ MORE: Coronavirus 101 

Image credit: Getty Images