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Infectious Diseases

24 August 2020

Coronavirus morning update: EC dept denies PPE tender claim, president talks tough on corruption

A provincial department has dismissed reports alleging that it awarded a PPE tender to a businessman who had died; and president reads ANC members riot act over corruption.

WHAT'S HAPPENING IN SA

Cases update: 

The latest number of confirmed cases is 609 773.

According to the latest update, 13 059 deaths have been recorded in the country.

There have been 506 470 recoveries.

So far, a total of over 3.5 million tests have been conducted, with 18 358 new tests reported.

READ MORE | All the confirmed cases of coronavirus in SA

Latest news:

President Cyril Ramaphosa says the ANC and its leaders stand accused of corruption and, while the party may not be alone in the dock, it does stand as "accused number one".

"This is the stark reality that we must now confront," Ramaphosa said in a letter penned to ANC members on the recent revelations of Covid-19 corruption that has engulfed the nation.

On Sunday, Ramaphosa said the ANC's national executive committee (NEC), at its last meeting at the beginning of the month, had recognised the justifiable public outrage caused by recent reports of corruption.

"It said these developments 'cause us collectively to dip our heads in shame and to humble ourselves before the people'. The NEC recognised that it had a clear mandate from the 54th National Conference to deal decisively with corruption and to restore the integrity and values of the ANC. It said this is a responsibility it cannot defer, outsource or avoid," Ramaphosa said.

This week, the South African Revenue Service (SARS) revealed it is investigating 17 tenders, involving "politically exposed persons" and worth R1.2 billion, connected to alleged Covid-19-related corruption.

READ MORE | 'We dip our heads in shame' - Ramaphosa reads ANC members the riot act over corruption

The Eastern Cape health department has dismissed reports published by the Daily Dispatch on Saturday alleging that it awarded a Covid-19 tender to a businessman who died two years ago.

The Daily Dispatch reported that the deceased's company was listed as having benefitted from the department's Covid-19 procurement.

The provincial government had disclosed a list of more than 600 vendors that benefitted from the procurement meant for Covid-19 goods and services.

"The Eastern Cape Department of Health wishes to state categorically that the newspaper article that was published in the Daily Dispatch of 22 August 2020 contains falsehoods that border on absurdity," said health spokesperson Siyanda Manana in a statement on Saturday.

Manana said the department never awarded 2KS Construction any PPE tender.

He further said the director of 2KS Construction was not the person listed in the Daily Dispatch article.

READ MORE | Eastern Cape health department dismisses reports that it awarded a PPE tender to a dead businessman

If you are an outdoor junkie and have missed the scenic views of mountains, wildlife and flowing rivers - you still can reignite your passion, albeit with a face mask, sanitiser and a little physical distancing.

The culture of tourism in South Africa and globally have changed as explorers now need to keep Covid-19 in mind.

Tourist sites have started showcasing their plans to ensure outdoor activities are done in adherence with protocols that are in place to reduce the transmission of the virus, and Tourism Minister Mmamoloko Kubayi-Ngubane has started inspecting the measures.

Kubayi-Ngubane spent the weekend visiting sites in Parys in the Free State and Vanderbijlpark in Gauteng.

The minister's visits were part of her campaign of getting South Africans to start visiting their favourite local tourism destinations again.

READ MORE | Tourism under Level 2: 'The traveller of yesterday is not the same as today,' says minister

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.

Late on Sunday night, positive cases worldwide were over 23.2 million, while deaths were more than 806 000.

The United States had the most cases in the world - over 5.6 million, as well as the most deaths - more than 176 000.

READ MORE | All the confirmed cases worldwide

Latest news:

The World Health Organisation released long-awaited guidance on whether they should wear masks.

It's been a point of confusion for parents amid the coronavirus pandemic since most kids get mild symptoms. There's also the inflammatory syndrome associated with coronavirus infections.

The WHO brought together a multidisciplinary group to evaluate coronavirus transmission in children, which released three recommendations on August 21 for mask-wearing depending on their precise age group, a document shows. 

Notably, the WHO said that children aged five years and under shouldn't be required to wear masks. That's based on the overall interest of the kid, including "psychosocial needs" and the fact that they're not able to use masks without a lot of assistance.  

READ MORE | The WHO just released specific mask guidance for kids

US President Donald Trump is prepared to present news of a "major therapeutic breakthrough" for treating the coronavirus, White House Press Secretary Kayleigh McEnany claimed in a tweet.

"News conference with President @realDonaldTrump at 6 pm tomorrow concerning a major therapeutic breakthrough on the China Virus," McEnany said in a tweet, adding that Secretary of Health and Human Services Alex Azar and Food and Drug Administration commissioner Dr. Stephen Hahn were both expected to join the president later Sunday.

According to a Sunday tally from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, there have so far been more than 5.6 million cases of Covid-19 in the United States and at least 174,645 deaths from the disease caused by the novel coronavirus.

As the race for a vaccine continues in the US and around the globe, Trump has grown frustrated with the FDA, claiming in a Saturday tweet the agency was part of a "deep state" conspiracy and was "making it very difficult for drug companies to get people in order to test the vaccines and therapeutics."

"Obviously, they are hoping to delay the answer until after November 3rd," he said in the Saturday tweet.

READ MORE | The White House is teasing a 'major therapeutic breakthrough' for the coronavirus 

LATEST RESEARCH

It's common knowledge that people over 70 are affected more severely by Covid-19.

Among 45 000 Chinese patients, the Covid-19 case fatality rate in those over 70 was found to be 10.2% – with the rate for cardiovascular disease at 10.5%, and hypertension at 6%.

What might be causing this? A new study published in the Journal of Molecular and Cellular Cardiology proposes that the answer lies in how our heart muscle cells change with age.

The researchers hypothesise that the virus may trigger heart problems in older patients as a result of ageing heart muscle cells (cardiomyocytes) being more susceptible to the invasion – due to the different ways that genes encode between DNA, RNA and proteins in these pathways. 

READ MORE | New research finds clues to why the elderly are more susceptible to Covid-19

HEALTH TIPS (as recommended by the NICD and WHO)

• 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.

Image credit: Getty Images