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Infectious Diseases

14 June 2020

Coronavirus morning update: Latest on Gauteng schools, and cybercriminals exploiting lockdown

Some Gauteng schools apply to phase in more grades; while more than 50 closed after positive cases; and hackers shifted their focus with many people working from home.

WHAT'S HAPPENING IN SA

Cases update: 

The latest number of confirmed cases is 65 736.

According to the latest update, 1 423 deaths have been recorded in the country.

There have been 36 850 recoveries.

So far, more than 1.087 million tests have been conducted, with 27 462 new tests.

READ MORE | All the confirmed cases of coronavirus in SA

Latest news:

The Gauteng Department of Education says 330 schools in the province have applied for deviation to phase in more grades amid the coronavirus pandemic.

According to departmental spokesperson Steve Mabona, they had responded to and approved 270 of the applications while others were still processed.

Mabona said the department was expected to approve and sign the remaining applications on the day the head offices were shut after two staff members tested positive for Covid-19.

On Monday 1 June, Basic Education Minister Angie Motshekga gazetted the amended regulations on the reopening of schools amid the coronavirus pandemic.

READ MORE | 330 schools in Gauteng apply to phase in more grades, says education department

More than 50 schools have been closed in Gauteng after positive cases of Covid-19 were reported.

According to the province's premier David Makhura and the Gauteng Coronavirus Command Council, as of Thursday 54 schools had been affected by 56 cases reported in districts across the province. This had increased from 43 schools affected by 45 Covid-19 cases on Tuesday.

During a briefing on Friday, Makhura said a number of schools still remained closed due to infrastructure issues – specifically the supply of water and the availability of ablution facilities – as well as those affected by positive Covid-19 cases.

On Thursday, 13 schools did not open after schools reopened on Monday 8 June due to infrastructure issues and vandalism, Makhura said.

READ MORE | 67 Gauteng schools closed due to Covid-19 cases, infrastructure issues

Gauteng MEC Panyaza Lesufi has tested negative for Covid-19, the Gauteng Department of Education announced on Saturday.

Lesufi tested for the virus on Tuesday and went into self-isolation after two staff members from the department's offices in Johannesburg tested positive for Covid-19.

News24 previously reported that the department's head office was currently being decontaminated after it was shut down on Wednesday.

Staff are expected to return to the head office on Monday once the process is complete.

READ MORE | Panyaza Lesufi tests negative for Covid-19 after scare

Stay vigilant. Hackers will keep trying to capitalise on Covid-19, warns Maher Yamout, senior security researcher at global cyber security firm Kaspersky.

When many people suddenly had to work from home when the coronavirus pandemic lockdown started, the focus of hackers shifted from email attacks to online attacks, Kaspersky research shows.

The first coronavirus case was reported in South Africa on 5 March and the country went into lockdown on 27 March.

Between February and March, Kaspersky saw a shift in South Africa. There was a drop in volume of ransomware attacks to more specifically targeted ransomware ones. Most of the time in SA, ransomware is deployed by exploiting online servers or weak passwords.

READ MORE | Cybercriminals change tack in SA, use more ransomware during lockdown

As of 13 June, there have been 14 Covid-19 related deaths in the South African Police Service (SAPS), while a total of 1 685 police officers have tested positive for the virus.

Of the 1 685 confirmed cases within the SAPS ranks, 1 034 cases have been reported in the Western Cape, according to Minister of Police Bheki Cele's spokesperson Lirandzu Themba.

In the Eastern Cape, 186 police officers contracted the virus, 119 in Gauteng, and 53 officers in KwaZulu-Natal.

SAPS has recorded 639 recoveries, while a total of 9 909 police officers stationed around the country tested negative.

READ MORE | More than 1 600 police officers have tested positive for Covid-19, with 14 deaths - Cele

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.

Early on Sunday morning, positive cases worldwide were more than 7.73 million, while deaths were more than 428 000.

The United States had the most cases in the world - close to 2.07 million, as well as the most deaths - more than 115 000.

READ MORE | All the confirmed cases worldwide

Latest news:

Dozens of people tested positive for the coronavirus in Beijing as parts of the city were locked down Saturday after the emergence of a new cluster linked to a wholesale food market.

People were ordered to stay home at 11 residential estates in south Beijing's Fengtai district and the nearby Xinfadi market was closed as authorities raced to contain the outbreak that has fuelled fears of a resurgence in local transmission.

Most of the six new domestic infections reported Saturday were linked to the meat and vegetable market, health officials said, which provides much of the capital's food supply.

Official news agency Xinhua reported at least one of the cases was "severe".

READ MORE | Fresh Covid-19 concerns send parts of Beijing into lockdown

LATEST RESEARCH

Many factors like age and comorbidities have been studied to help us better understand Covid-19 and people’s susceptibility to its severity – and now your blood type could be another factor that could influence your interaction with the coronavirus.

Private genetic testing company 23andME from the US have released some preliminary data from their ongoing genetic study on Covid-19, which they launched on 6 April.

It aims to find out if the ABO blood group can play a direct role in infections by serving as a receptor, or coreceptor for microorganisms, parasites, and viruses.

From the data of 750 000 participants so far – mostly customers from their existing database – they have gleaned that type O blood appears to be more protective against contracting the virus and severe symptoms than other blood types.

READ MORE | One blood type seems to be more resistant against 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