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Infectious Diseases

Updated 13 March 2020

Coronavirus morning update: It's a global pandemic, as SA reports six new cases - one critical

Your latest coronavirus news: South Africa now has 13 confirmed cases, with one patient critical in Gauteng; the WHO has declared the spread of the virus a pandemic, and US Presidnt Trump has temporarily suspended all travel to the US from Europe - except from the UK.

WHAT'S HAPPENING IN SA

Cases update: 

Health Minister Zweli Mkhize confirmed another four new cases of the coronavirus on Thursday morning, bringing the total to 17, as the World Health Organization (WHO) declared the virus a pandemic based on how it has spread, and the severity.

The new cases, according to Mkhize are in Gauteng, KwaZulu-Natal, Mpumalanga – and the first case of local transmission is in the Free State. 

READ MORE | BREAKING | Four new cases of coronavirus confirmed in SA, bringing total to 17

Latest news:

One of the 17 South Africans who tested positive for the coronavirus has an existing chronic disease, and is in a critical condition, according the Gauteng health department.

The 57-year-old patient suffered from renal disease which the department was worried about, Health MEC Bandile Masuku said.

READ MORE | Gauteng coronavirus patient critical as he battles renal disease

Meanwhile, despite the first confirmed case in the Western Cape, Western Cape Health MEC Nomafrench Mbombo said there is no need to panic.

She said the province had already coped successfully with measles outbreaks and H1N1, and South Africa had established a good protocol in tracking down people who were in contact with an infected patient through its vast experience in managing tuberculosis cases.

READ MORE | 'We've got it, it's what we do', says health MEC on coronavirus concerns

WHAT'S HAPPENING IN THE REST OF THE WORLD

Cases update:

According to latest information from Johns Hopkins University & Medicine, stats show that more than 126 000 positive cases have been confirmed worldwide, with more than 4 600 deaths.

China remains hardest-hit with more nearly 81 000 cases and more than 3 500 deaths.

Italy is currently the only other country with more than 10 000 cases – currently just short of 12 500.

READ MORE | Deaths soar in Italy, US ups containment measures

Latest news:

The head of the WHO has warned that the organisation expects the number of coronavirus cases, deaths and number of affected countries to climb even higher, after declaring the virus a pandemic

"We are deeply concerned both by the alarming levels of spread and severity, and by the alarming levels of inaction," said Ghebreyesus, adding pandemic was not a word to use lightly or carelessly.

"It is a word that, if misused, can cause unreasonable fear, or unjustified acceptance that the fight is over, leading to unnecessary suffering and death."

However, he warned the WHO had not seen a pandemic before that could be controlled. 

"We cannot say this loudly enough, or clearly enough, or often enough: All countries can still change the course of this pandemic."

READ MORE | The new coronavirus is now considered a pandemic

President Donald Trump on Wednesday suspended travel from Europe to the United States for 30 days in an "aggressive" effort to halt the spread of the novel coronavirus pandemic that has sparked a run on the stock market and is rapidly multiplying.

The ban will not include travellers from the United Kingdom, which recently left the European Union, Trump said.

READ MORE | Trump suspends travel from Europe to US in coronavirus crisis

LATEST RESEARCH

As experts further explore the new strain of coronavirus in labs, they're coming closer to developing antibodies that may reduce the rate at which the new virus infects cells.

"Unravelling which cellular factors are used by SARS-CoV-2 (the Covid-19 virus) for entry might provide insights into viral transmission and reveal therapeutic targets,” according to the authors of one of the new papers in Cell.

READ MORE | Researchers identify potential coronavirus vaccine target

HEALTH TIPS (as recommended by the NICD and WHO)

• Avoid contact with people who have respiratory infections 

• Maintain social 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