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Infectious Diseases

29 June 2020

Coronavirus morning update: Latest on surge in Gauteng cases, and concern over NMB hospitals

Gauteng is now recording more cases every day than at any point during the Western Cape's outbreak; and the crisis at some Nelson Mandela Bay hospitals has reached new lows.

WHAT'S HAPPENING IN SA

Cases update: 

The latest number of confirmed cases is 138 134

According to the latest update, 2 456 deaths have been recorded in the country.

There have been 68 925 recoveries.

So far, more than 1.56 million tests have been conducted, with 38 075 new tests.

READ MORE | All the confirmed cases of coronavirus in SA

Latest news:

South Africa's most populous province, Gauteng, is now recording more Covid-19 cases every day than at any point during the Western Cape's outbreak.

So far, the Western Cape has been the hardest-hit province.

On 26 June, Gauteng recorded 2 598 new cases and 2 590 on 25 June – both representing the highest increases in cases in a single day in any province.

In comparison, the Western Cape's highest rise in cases in a single day was reported on 4 June, with 2 349 cases.

These increases have also pushed the average daily increase in cases on a seven-day rolling average basis in Gauteng to more than 2 000 a day, also the highest increase in cases in any province since the first case was confirmed on 5 March.

GRAPHICS | Gauteng recording more Covid-19 cases a day than Western Cape has at any point

The crisis at some Nelson Mandela Bay hospitals has reached new lows as doctors are having to clean wards and wash bed linen, while dirt stands in hallways amid crippling staff shortages.

Nursing staff at Livingstone Hospital have told a shocking tale of overwhelmed staff and overflowing wards that are manned by just two nurses.

At Uitenhage Hospital one nurse told News24 they have had to be creative with space and use offices to treat outpatients. She said community members have taken charge, volunteering to clean the hospital.

When News24 visited Livingstone Hospital on Saturday, dirt and used surgical equipment covered the floors. In one of its pharmacies, the entrance was covered with used sanitisers, surgical gloves and needles. Beds covered in dirty mattresses were also lined up in corridors.

In another ward, dried blood spots covered the floor as staff wheeled patients across the filth. In the elevators, gloves and dirty bed covers were nestled against each corner while the stairway was stained with blood.

WATCH | Covid-19: Inside a NMB hospital where dirt lines hallways, doctors clean wards

Limpopo's Provincial Coronavirus Command Council (PCCC) has accused some teachers of submitting fake doctor's certificates, on their vulnerability to Covid-19 because of comorbidities, to avoid returning to work on 6 July.

In a statement released after its meeting on Sunday, the council said education authorities had received more than 700 applications from teachers to be exempt from attending school due to comorbidities, but only 400 had been granted.

It said they were still seeing suspicious medical certificates being provided with applications "from a certain section of doctors".

When asked for more clarity, Premier Stan Mathabatha's spokesperson Kenny Mathivha said: "The health department, with the assistance of police, is investigating as it is believed that some of the doctors and the medical certificates are fake.

READ MORE | Covid-19: Teachers using fake doctors' notes to avoid returning to school - Limpopo command council

Thirty five residents and 17 staff members of a Goodwood home for the aged tested positive for Covid-19 in a massive scare that seems to be abating, manager Andre Verster said on Sunday.

A 97-year-old resident of the Protea Home for the Aged is still in hospital but there are signs that the resident will beat the virus.

The cases emerged earlier in June when it was discovered that four people who had died, had the novel coronavirus. The discovery led to testing in the frail care section of the home and the diagnosis of 52 cases among residents and staff. The affected people are in isolation.

"We are on day nine already. Nobody had symptoms," said a hopeful Venter, who manages the home. "So I think we are out of the woods."

"We are busy winning."

READ MORE | 'We are winning' - cautious optimism at old aged home where there are 52 Covid-19 cases

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 Sunday night, positive cases worldwide were 10.05 million, while deaths were almost 500 000.

The United States had the most cases in the world - 2.53 million, as well as the most deaths - close to 126 000.

READ MORE | All the confirmed cases worldwide

Latest news:

Three people died, three are in critical condition, and one is permanently blind from methanol poisoning after drinking hand sanitiser in New Mexico, according to health officials.

The New Mexico Department of Health said the cases are related to alcoholism, adding that hand sanitiser is sometimes consumed for its high alcohol content, CNN reported.

The first case was reported to the New Mexico Poison Control and Drug Information Centre on 7 May, with the rest occurring after May 29, officials said.

No additional details on the victims or where the incidents happened were provided, although a doctor working at Poison Control Center said the cases stretched across two states and multiple counties, according to the New York Times.

READ MORE | Three people died and one person was permanently blinded in New Mexico after drinking hand sanitiser

The UK government is considering reimposing a lockdown on Leicester, England, after a surge in coronavirus cases, a minister has confirmed.

Matt Hancock, the health secretary, is reviewing coronavirus legislation needed to impose a local lockdown after 658 confirmed cases of coronavirus in the city in the two weeks to June 16, according to a Sunday Times report.

The figures mean that around 25% of Leicester's total confirmed cases had been reported in the last fortnight, the BBC reported.

Priti Patel, the home secretary, confirmed that the report was correct on Sunday. Asked if the city could be placed back into lockdown, she said: "That is correct."

"We have seen flareups across the country already, just in the last three or four weeks in particular. There will be support going into Leicester," she told BBC's Andrew Marr show.

READ MORE | Boris Johnson is preparing to reimpose lockdown on a British city after a surge in coronavirus cases

LATEST RESEARCH

Scientists are turning to lab-grown, mini-human organs to help them investigate how Covid-19 is ravaging their systems.

And no, this isn’t like the human cloning you see in movies like The Island.

They are grown from human embryonic stem cells, programmed to organise themselves into whichever organ the scientist needs to experiment with.

They resemble tiny grey blobs, but are an important tool in replicating the pathology of viruses like Covid-19 in order to understand and discover treatments to help fight them.

Various coronavirus studies have been done on lung, kidney, liver and cardiovascular system organoids.

According to a review published in Cell Press, the use of organoids is one of three methods of investigating the effects of a disease on the human body in a lab. The others are using human airway epithelial cells and animal testing.

READ MORE | Lab-grown mini-organs reveal the damage inflicted by 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