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Infectious Diseases

14 August 2020

Coronavirus morning update: Gauteng premier urges compliance, and CTICC field hospital closing

Gauteng needs to continue conducting itself and behaving like it is still the epicentre of Covid-19 in SA; and CTICC Hospital of Hope to close as Covid-19 declines in W Cape.

WHAT'S HAPPENING IN SA

Cases update: 

The latest number of confirmed cases is 572 865.

According to the latest update, 11 270 deaths have been recorded in the country.

There have been 437 617 recoveries.

So far, over 3.3 million tests have been conducted, with more than 20 000 new tests reported.

READ MORE | All the confirmed cases of coronavirus in SA

Latest news:

KwaZulu-Natal Premier Sihle Zikalala has promised lifestyle audits, procurement pre-audits and action against corrupt officials, as government departments come under fire over rampant looting during Covid-19.

"We made a commitment that we will evaluate some of the contracts, even before they are in a queue. We are now doing that with regard to Covid-19 but, going forward, this must continue. Pre-auditing must continue going forward," Zikalala said.

Speaking at the eThekwini Disaster Management Centre in Durban, Zikalala presented a procurement disclosure report to the media. The 16-page report gives a detailed description of Covid-19 procurement in all provincial government departments.

In it, Zikalala revealed there had been nearly R3 billion in expenditure funds used throughout theprovince by 27 July. Of this, municipalities spent R925 271 000 and public entities spent R4million while the remaining nearly R2 billion came from provincial departments.

About 57% of the nearly R2 billion spent by provincial departments was for infrastructure,something Zikalala said would benefit the province in the long term.

READ MORE | Covid-19 corruption: KZN Premier Zikalala promises lifestyle audits, pre-audits for all procurement

Gauteng needs to continue conducting itself and behaving like it is still the epicentre of Covid-19 in South Africa - the province must do this even though there is a reduction in the rate of infections, says Premier David Makhura.

Makhura was speaking during the provincial command council weekly Covid-19 update on Thursday.

The provincial advisory committee revealed at the briefing there was a new modelling and infection trajectory, suggesting that the province was able to handle the surge and that cases were now declining.

But Makhura cautioned that even though there seemed to be light at the end of the Covid-19 tunnel, it was still early days and people should not let their guard down, because of the province's size and population density.

The committee said new predictions and modelling indicated that the province was able to remove cases in identified hotspots, which pointed to a decline of the infection rate and transmission.

The committee's Professor Bruce Mellado, said the province appeared ready to relax lockdown regulations, but only gradually.

READ MORE | The Covid-19 storm has not passed, but slowed - Gauteng Premier Makhura urges continued compliance

The Covid-19 field hospital at the Cape Town International Convention Centre (CTICC) will close down as the pandemic eases in the Western Cape.

The head of the Department of Health, Keith Cloete, said the CTICC would be decommissioned on 18 August and the remaining patients would be transferred to the Brackengate facility starting on Friday.

This after Premier Alan Winde appealed to President Cyril Ramaphosa to reopen the economy by easing the lockdown to save jobs and counter the devastating impact on already vulnerable people. A meeting between premiers and Ramaphosa is expected on Saturday, and Winde hopes for news of a possible easing in the days after that.

The CTICC facility treated 1 502 people, discharged 1 440, with 57 remaining. Eighty-two people died there.

The facility's mortuary container will be moved to rural areas to assist where needed by mid-September as per the contract with the CTICC.

READ MORE | CTICC Hospital of Hope to close as Covid-19 declines in Western Cape

Since the start of the Covid-19 pandemic, over 27 000 healthcare workers have tested positive for the virus with a death toll of 230 in the sector.

In a statement, Health Minister Zweli Mkhize revealed on Thursday that, as of 4 August, a total of 27 360 healthcare workers were reported as having contacted the virus.

Of the total number of confirmed Covid-19 cases in the healthcare sector, 21 333 (78%) cases were reported in the public sector, while 6 027 (22%) were from the private sector.

"The overall infection rate amongst healthcare workers as compared to the total number of cases identified nationally is 5% which is well below the global average of 10%," Mkhize said.

A further breakdown revealed that more than half (52%) of the healthcare workers who tested positive were nurses, while 6% (1 644) were doctors.

Less than 1% were Port Health workers and 42% were from other categories of health workers, the minister said.

Mkhize added that, as of 4 August, 230 Covid-19 related deaths had been confirmed among healthcare workers.

READ MORE | Covid-19: Over 27 000 cases and 230 deaths among healthcare workers, but SA below global averages

Western Cape Premier Alan Winde appealed directly to President Cyril Ramaphosa to reopen the economy to prevent further poverty and job losses during the Covid-19 pandemic.

"We've done our job, Mr President," Winde said on Thursday.

He said everybody backed Ramaphosa when he first declared a national state of disaster and that the province innovated urgently, building field hospitals, finding hotspots and "testing, testing, testing".

He said the poorest 10% of people in the country lost 55% of jobs during the pandemic and that the level of food insecurity increased from 25% to 47%, according to their data.

Three million jobs were lost, with at least 38 000 in the informal sector and more than 104 000 in tourism.

He said the province believed that it had flattened the curve.

Cases update:

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

Late on Thursday night, positive cases worldwide were over 20.7 million, while deaths were just over 751 000.

The United States had the most cases in the world - more than 5.2 million, as well as the most deaths - nearly 167 000.

READ MORE | All the confirmed cases worldwide

Latest news:

A combination of eased restrictions, less strict rule-following in summer and increased testing explains the rising number of Covid-19 cases seen around Europe, the European chapter of the World Health Organisation (WHO) said Thursday, reports AFP.

Nevertheless, deaths have not kept pace even as countries around Europe have seen an increase in cases.

Rather, the lower death rate can in part be explained by the disease spreading among young people, who are generally spared the most severe symptoms and suffer a lower mortality rate.

The WHO now fears people will become more lax about measures and recommendations aimed at curbing the spread.

"The key message is if you take... the pressure off the virus, then it will come back," he said calling on European governments to be mindful of the lessons learnt in the first months of the pandemic.

"The trick is to quickly identify new cases, new clusters, to try to prevent further spread amplification," Peabody said.

According to the WHO, nearly 3.7 million cases of Covid-19 have been recorded in Europe since the start of the pandemic, and 218 383 deaths.

READ MORE | Covid-19 wrap: 'Complacency led to surge in cases in Europe', Spanish regions impose smoking ban

LATEST RESEARCH

As researchers revealed some of the strange symptoms caused by Covid-19, it was discovered that many patients also tend to develop dermatological issues such as skin rashes or “Covid-toes”.

While these side-effects may seem random for a virus that is supposed to target the respiratory system and other organs, skin lesions and rashes may be telltale signs of Covid-19-related blood clots, according to new research published in JAMA Dermatology.

The research team from New-York Presbyterian/Weill Cornell University investigated four cases of New York patients with severe Covid-19. These intubated patients also had skin complications.

The patients showed signs of two conditions known as acral fixed livedo racemose, a condition known to cause skin discolouration and broken skin, and retiform purpura, which involves skin lesions caused by red blood cells leaking into the skin.

READ MORE | Why rashes in Covid-19 patients should not be ignored

Masks are becoming mandatory in many parts of the world, as there is evidence that face coverings do reduce Covid-19 transmission through exhaled droplets.

However, many of the reusable fabric masks, buffs, scarves, bandanas, neck gaiters and other face coverings available have not been tested to determine to exactly what extent they reduce the spread of droplets.

While previous research has determined that some fabrics and designs are more effective than others, these experiments were performed in laboratories with simulation models.

In new research by Duke University, scientists made use of a proof of concept study to test 14 different types of reusable masks. A “proof of concept” study is usually a small procedure to test an idea or assumption.

This differs from previous research performed in laboratories. The full study is published in Science Advances.

READ MORE | A simple experiment can determine which fabric face masks are most effective

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