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Infectious Diseases

Updated 11 August 2020

Coronavirus morning update: EC reveals Covid resource spending, and tender task team's role

The Eastern Cape government has published details relating to Covid-19 procurement; and a task team will only compile and publish details of all Covid-19-related contracts.

WHAT'S HAPPENING IN SA

Cases update: 

The latest number of confirmed cases is 563 598.

According to the latest update, 10 621 deaths have been recorded in the country.

There have been 417 200 recoveries.

So far, a total of more than 3.26 million tests have been conducted, with 16 911 new tests reported.

READ MORE | All the confirmed cases of coronavirus in SA

Latest news:

The Eastern Cape government has taken a decision to publish details relating to Covid-19 procurement and said it had already procured goods to the value of about R1.2 billion in the province.

In a statement on Monday, Eastern Cape Finance MEC Mlungisi Mvoko said the decision to publish details around the procurement was done to maintain accountability, transparency and ethical behaviour.

Allegations of fraud and corruption during the Covid-19 pandemic have cropped up around the country.

Mvoko explained that due to the nature of Covid-19, National Treasury was forced to relax some regulations to allow for the expedient procurement of supplies, such as personal protective equipment (PPE), needed to fight the pandemic.

READ MORE | Eastern Cape procures Covid-19 resources to the tune of about R1.2 billion

The ministers appointed by the Cabinet to a ministerial task team will only compile and publish details of all Covid-19-related contracts, and will not be investigating them, the government said in a statement about the committee's role.

"Government wishes to clarify the role of the ministerial team established by Cabinet at its meeting of 5 August 2020," Cabinet spokesperson Phumla Williams said on Sunday.

"The task of the ministerial committee is to compile and publish details of all Covid-related contracts awarded by all state entities," she said.

"Contrary to some reports, the ministerial team does not have a responsibility to investigate Covid-related contracts. This remains the task of the relevant law enforcement agencies."

READ MORE | Government explains role of Cabinet Covid-19 tender committee amid cynicism

The health ministry has said Health Minister Dr Zweli Mkhize does not own a personal protective equipment (PPE) manufacturing company.

The ministry sent out a statement on Monday after it became aware of a message circulating on various social media platforms which claimed that Mkhize owned a PPE manufacturing company.

"This message has appeared on various people's Twitter, Facebook and WhatsApp threads," ministry spokesperson Lwazi Manzi said.

"We would like to categorically state that minister Mkhize does not own a PPE manufacturing company nor is he involved in any way in the manufacturing of PPE.

"In anticipation of any further emergence of fake news, we also categorically state that nobody in minister Mkhize's family is in the business of manufacturing, selling or distribution of PPE."

READ MORE | Mkhize does not own PPE manufacturing company - health ministry

Global restrictions on travel have dealt a devastating blow to African nations who depend on tourists and their hard currency to support an industry that employs millions of people on the continent.

National carriers in Mauritius, Kenya and Namibia ran into more financial trouble as flights were grounded. In South Africa, listed hotel group, Sun International, announced two of its casinos won't reopen after the country's coronavirus lockdown ends.

Kenya expects the number of flight passengers to fall by about 1.6 million and losses of as much as $511 million in hotel-room revenue if the pandemic persists.

Travel and tourism contributed $168 billion to African economies last year, according to the World Travel and Tourism Council. Island nations including Mauritius and Seychelles heavily rely on the travelers for revenue.

In 2019, the number of visitors to Mauritius was about 1.4 million - that was more than its population of 1.3 million people. The picture changed when the Indian Ocean island nation imposed a lockdown from March 20 and arrivals for April, May and June were almost zero.

READ MORE | Covid-19 travel restrictions devastate Africa's tourism

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 Monday night, positive cases worldwide were more than 19.95 million, while deaths were more than 732 000.

The United States had the most cases in the world - more than 5.07 million, as well as the most deaths - more than 163 000.

READ MORE | All the confirmed cases worldwide

Latest news:

There is a "vast global gap" between funds needed to fight the coronavirus pandemic and funds committed, World Health Organization chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said on Monday, and the WHO was only "10% of the way" there.

More than 19.92 million people have been reported to be infected by the coronavirus globally and 729 883 have died, according to a Reuters tally.

Infections have been reported in more than 210 countries and territories since the first cases were identified in China in December 2019.

"The coming three months present a crucial window of opportunity to scale-up the impact of the ACT Accelerator for global impact," Tedros told a briefing in Geneva, referring to the "Access to Covid-19 Tools" initiative.

"However to exploit this window, we have to fundamentally scale up the way we are funding the ACT Accelerator and prioritise the use of new tools. There is a vast global gap between our ambition for the ACT Accelerator, and the amount of funds that have been committed."

He said the WHO was only "10% of the way" to funding the billions of dollars required.

"For the vaccines alone, over $100 billion will be needed," Tedros said. This sounds like lot of money and it is.

READ MORE | WHO decries 'vast global gap' in funds needed to fight coronavirus

Less than a third of British people say they would definitely get a coronavirus vaccine, with scientists warning that the UK government and social media companies must fight misinformation for a vaccine to be widely accepted.

New research by pollsters Ipsos Mori and Kings College London university found that 30% of people in the UK said they were certain to get a vaccine for COVID-19 if it became available.

23% said they were very likely and 20% said they were fairly likely.

However, 16% of respondents said they were either unlikely to get a vaccine or definitely wouldn't.

Of those respondents who said they definitely wouldn't get a vaccine, 36% said they believed "too much fuss" is being made of the virus, which has led to nearly 47,000 deaths in the UK, while 34% said the UK government was attempting to control the population by making people wear face masks.

Scientists behind the research said there was a clear link between opposition to a vaccine and social media as a source of news. 27% of respondents who said they got their news from Whatsapp said they would be unlikely to get the virus.

READ MORE | Just 30% of Brits say they would definitely get a coronavirus vaccine

LATEST RESEARCH 

While some patients with Covid-19 require hospitalisation, the majority of people who do become infected experience mild symptoms and can recover at home.

Researchers in a new study, published in the journal Science, suspect this may have to do with previous infections with common cold viruses that may be able to train our immune system to keep track of viruses they've previously come across, and give the cells a head start in recognising and targeting these repeat invaders.

For the study, the team from the La Jolla Institute for Immunology (LJI) in La Jolla, California, analysed blood samples collected from people in Wuhan, China, long before the Covid-19 outbreak (between 2015 and 2018).

T-cells play a key role in the body's immune defence.

Professor Thomas Scriba, deputy director of immunology and laboratory director at the University of Cape Town, previously explained to Health24 that T-cells are "natural killers". Their job is to find infected cells in the human body and destroy them.

In the study, while analysing the blood samples that contained T-cells, the researchers found that they reacted to more than 100 specific sites on SARS-CoV-2, including parts of the "spike" protein (one of the major structural proteins of the virus that it uses to bind to and invade human cells).

More than this, they explained that these T-cells also reacted to similar sites on four different coronaviruses that cause common cold infections. Based on their findings, they hypothesise that this existing immune system "memory" may explain why some people end up having milder Covid-19 infections than others.

READ MORE | Could exposure to the common cold train the immune system to recognise and fight new coronavirus?

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