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Infectious Diseases

12 July 2020

Coronavirus morning update: Latest on Gauteng hospitals, 9 more police stations close over Covid-19

The number of Covid-19 patients admitted to hospitals in Gauteng is "rising very fast"; and nine police stations are closed for decontamination over positive cases.

WHAT'S HAPPENING IN SA

Cases update: 

The latest number of confirmed cases is 264 184.

According to the latest update, 3 971 deaths have been recorded in the country.

There have been 127 715 recoveries.

So far, 2 108 570 tests have been conducted, with 51 388 new tests.

READ MORE | All the confirmed cases of coronavirus in SA

Latest news:

Five police stations in Limpopo, three in the Free State and one in Gauteng have been closed after positive Covid-19 cases were reported.

Temporary arrangements have been made for the provision of police services, with mobile and community centres in place where needed.

All buildings where positive test cases were found, will be closed for contamination in the meantime.

On Friday, Police Minister Bheki Cele stated that policing during the Covid-19 pandemic had "come at a cost". 

"The virus has infected over 5 000 SAPS members, resulting in the decontamination of hundreds of police stations across the country. Sadly, Covid-19 has claimed the lives of 36 members," the minister said. 

READ MORE | Covid-19: Another 9 police stations closed after officers test positive

While travelling across provinces and staying in hotels and other permitted forms of accommodation are currently only reserved for essential business purposes, an announcement from the Presidency's social media that interprovincial accommodation for leisure purposes would be allowed, came as a surprise.

The posts were initially welcomed by the Western Cape government in a statement. “What this means is that families who live in the province can now spend a weekend away at their favourite getaway spot, and enjoy the best that the Western Cape has to offer, while doing so safely and responsibly,” said David Maynier, Western Cape minister of finance and economic opportunities.

Unfortunately, the Presidency deleted this announcement on Saturday morning, saying that the post was an error.

READ MORE | Presidency deletes announcement that leisure travel will be allowed, says it was an error

The Solidarity Fund is set to purchase critical medical equipment worth R405 million - including hospital beds, ventilators and high-flow oxygen devices - for Gauteng, the Western Cape and Eastern Cape.

In a statement on Friday, Solidarity Fund interim CEO Nomkhita Nqweni said the fund would purchase medical equipment for Gauteng hospitals - including the Nasrec field hospital - beds and ventilators for the Western Cape, and ward capacity and oxygen devices in the Eastern Cape.

"As the Covid-19 pandemic intensifies across South Africa and the country braces for an expected surge in hospital admissions, the Solidarity Fund has responded by approving an additional R405m towards the purchase of critical healthcare equipment for the public hospital system in the hotspots of Gauteng, Western Cape and the Eastern Cape," she stated.

READ MORE | Covid-19: Solidarity Fund will buy R405m worth of medical equipment for hard-hit provinces

The number of Covid-19 patients admitted to hospitals in Gauteng is "rising very fast", which coincides with the drastic increase in confirmed cases of the virus in the province, but hospitals have still not reached capacity, said Minister of Health Dr Zweli Mkhize.

Mkhize, along with Gauteng Health MEC Dr Bandile Masuku, visited the Tshwane district hospital on Friday to assess the preparations as Covid-19 cases begin to surge in the province.

"We have indicated in the past few days, as we have done in the past few months, that the surge is upon us at this point. This is the beginning of what we related to be a storm that we must raise up for," Mkhize said.

"What we are now seeing is the numbers have started building up to a large degree, more patients are coming to hospital; as a result, the beds that we have are under pressure."

READ MORE | More patients in hospital, beds under pressure, but Gauteng's hospitals have not reached capacity - Mkhize

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 Saturday night, positive cases worldwide were 12 576 457, while deaths were 561 879.

The United States had the most cases in the world - 3 215 861, as well as the most deaths - 134 430.

READ MORE | All the confirmed cases worldwide

Latest news:

A French bus driver who was badly beaten by passengers after asking them to wear face masks in line with coronavirus rules has died, his family said, sparking tributes from political leaders who condemned his "cowardly" attackers.

Philippe Monguillot, 59, was left brain dead by the attack in the southwestern town of Bayonne last weekend and died in hospital on Friday, his daughter Marie said, after his family decided to switch off his life-support system.

"We decided to let him go. The doctors were in favour and we were as well," she told AFP.

Two men have been charged with attempted murder over the attack and prosecutor Jerome Bourrier told AFP that he would ask for the charges to be upgraded following Monguillot's death.

France's prime minister Jean Castex led tributes to Monguillot.

READ MORE | French bus driver dies after attack over mask-wearing rules

LATEST RESEARCH

You've probably heard the term "herd immunity" thrown about in arguments for and against pandemic lockdowns.

The idea is that if enough people are infected and recover from the coronavirus, they will have developed antibodies against it, which will prevent the virus from spreading to those without immunity.

But a massive country-wide study from Spain – hard-hit in the early stages of the global outbreak – may have derailed this argument completely with its latest findings.

Published in The Lancet and commissioned by the Spanish Ministry of Health and the Institute of Health Carlos III, just over 61 000 people in almost 36 000 households were tested for antibodies between April and May just after the country reached its peak.

Only 5% of them tested positive for Covid-19 antibodies on average, while in hotspot areas like Madrid it hovered at around 10%. Provinces along the coast had lower seroprevalence.

In order to achieve herd immunity, you would need about 60% immunity.

READ MORE | Covid-19: An extensive study of the outbreak in Spain found most people did not develop immunity

As Covid-19 infections and deaths rise among older persons (people older than 60) in South Africa, old age residential facilities are battling with costly interventions to keep residents safe.

Questions have also been raised as to whether the Department of Social Development (DSD) that funds many of these facilities is providing the necessary support.

Globally, countries such as Sweden and the United States have reported a shocking number of infections and deaths in their care facilities. An article in Business Live showed that 79% of the total number of deaths in Sweden were in care homes or of older persons receiving home care. According to the New York Times, 43% of Covid-19 deaths in the US can be traced back to care facilities for older persons.

The daily Covid-19 updates from the Ministry of Health, give provincial breakdowns of positive cases, testing data, deaths and recoveries and sometimes a breakdown of deaths by age. By 1 July statistics showed 1 541 of 2 749 deaths were recorded among people 60 years and older.

According to Connie Nxumalo, the Deputy Director-General of Welfare Services at the DSD, 69 care facilities across the country have reported Covid-19 infections. The total number of infections across these facilities are 520 (237 residents and 283 staff), and there have been 35 deaths among residents.

The Western Cape has the highest number of facilities affected, with 352 cases (both staff and residents) across 39 facilities, and 27 deaths. Gauteng is next in line with 122 cases (both staff and residents) in 17 different facilities and 5 deaths, says Nxumalo.

READ MORE | Covid-19: More government support needed for old age facilities

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