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Infectious Diseases

27 June 2020

Coronavirus morning update: Lockdown regulations, cigarette ban court bids dismissed

The Western Cape High Court has ruled that lockdown regulations are justified; while a bid to have the cigarette ban overturned, has also been dismissed with costs.

WHAT'S HAPPENING IN SA

Cases update: 

The latest number of confirmed cases is 124 590.

According to the latest update, 2 340 deaths have been recorded in the country.

There have been 64 111 recoveries.

So far, more than 1.49 million tests have been conducted, with 33 092 new tests.

READ MORE | All the confirmed cases of coronavirus in SA

Latest news:

An application to have the lockdown regulations declared invalid, and the National Coronavirus Command Council (NCCC) declared inconsistent with the Constitution and the Disaster Management Act, was dismissed in the Western Cape High Court in Cape Town on Friday.

Last month, Mpiyakhe Dlamini, Duwayne Esau, Tami Jackson, Lindo Khuzwayo, Mikhail Manuel, Neo Mkwane, Scott Roberts and Riaan Salie brought the application.

Minister of Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma, President Cyril Ramaphosa, Minister of Trade and Industry Ebrahim Patel, the NCCC, and the Disaster Management Centre were the respondents.

Judges Rosheni Allie and Elizabeth Baartman presided.

READ MORE | Western Cape High Court rules that lockdown regulations are justified, dismisses application

The High Court in Pretoria has dismissed with costs an application by the Fair Trade Independent Tobacco Association to have government's ban on the sale of tobacco products overturned.

FITA argued that cigarettes should be viewed as essential on the basis that tobacco is addictive, among other things.

However, the court was unconvinced.

"FITA’s argument that cigarettes ought to have been considered 'essential' because they are additive has no merit. The fact that a substance is addictive does not render it essential. We therefore find no basis on which to interpret the level five regulations as permitting the sale of tobacco products," reads the judgment.

READ MORE | FITA's court bid to have cigarette ban overturned, dismissed with costs

Government has decided not to relax travel rules in South Africa – no leisure travel will be allowed under “advanced” lockdown Level 3. Only business travellers can stay over in accommodation like hotels and guest houses, as has been the case for some time now.

You are still only allowed “self-drive” day trips, and these may be only within your province of residence. Travel over provincial borders is only allowed under certain strict conditions, for example for work, medical procedures, funerals or university.

But if you live in a so-called coronavirus “hot spot” you may have to stay within your area if infections get out of hand.

During a briefing on Friday night, tourism minister Mmamoloko Kubayi-Ngubane said when an “issue” with hotspots emerges, new guidelines – “or even regulations” – will be issued to restrict travel.

READ MORE | Holidays still banned: South Africans only allowed to take day trips

More than 700 teachers and school staff and 88 pupils have tested positive for Covid-19 in the Western Cape to date according to this week's provisional stats, Education MEC Debbie Schäfer has said.

This was according to initial reports this week, she confirmed during a briefing to the National Council of Provinces on Thursday.

According to the verified cumulative total released a week ago, 375 staff members and 61 pupils had tested positive, Schäfer's spokesperson, Kerry Mauchline, said.

"This includes staff members who tested positive before the reopening of schools on 1 June. The majority of schools that have reported cases have only reported one or two cases, so we are not seeing evidence of mass spreading at schools."

READ MORE | More than 700 school staff, 88 pupils tested positive for Covid-19 in Western Cape to date - MEC

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 Saturday morning, positive cases worldwide were more than 9.69 million, while deaths were more than 491 000.

The United States had the most cases in the world - more than 2.45 million, as well as the most deaths - close to 125 000.

READ MORE | All the confirmed cases worldwide

Latest news:

The World Health Organisation-led coalition fighting the coronavirus needs $31.3 billion over the next 12 months to develop and roll out tests, treatments and vaccines, it said on Friday.

It said $3.4 billion had been contributed to date, leaving a funding gap of $27.9 billion, of which $13.7 billion was "urgently needed".

The WHO initiative aims to scale up delivery of 500 million tests and 245 million courses of treatments to low- and middle-income countries by mid-2021, it said in a statement.

It also aims to scale up delivery of 2 billion vaccines doses, including 1 billion to be bought by low- and middle-income countries, by the end of 2021.

READ MORE | WHO-led coalition needs $31.3bn to fight Covid-19

LATEST RESEARCH

The role of asymptomatic spread in the pandemic has been a hot topic lately, especially after the World Health Organisation's comments - and retraction - over the probability of Covid-19 positive people with no symptoms passing it unknowingly on to others.

A new study from Italy - one of the original epicentres of the pandemic - however, may show some insight into the prevalence of symptoms among those infected with the coronavirus.

They released a pre-print of their findings in arXiv which still needs to be peer-reviewed.

Researchers focused on almost 5 500 contact cases in Italy’s Lombardy - an area hard-hit by Covid-19 - of which just more than half tested positive for the virus.

READ MORE | What researchers learned from Italy's Covid-19 outbreak: Many cases didn't show the usual symptoms

The idea of herd immunity has been touted by many in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic.

The idea is that when people get sick and recover, they develop an immunity that eventually gives the virus no foothold to stick around in communities.

But a new study from China, published in Nature, found strong evidence that suggests that some patients who recover from Covid-19 – including those with no symptoms – retain their antibodies against the disease for only between two and three months.

Antibodies against other types of coronaviruses normally last around a year.

READ MORE | Your antibodies may only last a few months after recovering from the coronavirus

There is still a lot to unpack about SARS-CoV-2, the novel coronavirus that emerged in 2019, and now some researchers are looking at the history of existing diseases to help answer their questions.

When an international group of researchers tried to find out when measles first came into existence, they discovered that it could be linked to the emergence of large cities, according to a news release.

The research team traced back measles by sequencing a genome from a measle strain from 1912 and worked backwards to see exactly when measles emerged.

Their research concluded that the virus likely emerged around the 6th century BCE. The team's findings were published in the journal Science.

READ MORE | When did measles first emerge? This could help with Covid-19 research

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