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Infectious Diseases

Updated 14 April 2020

Coronavirus morning update: Lockdown slows spread of virus but expert warns 'can't escape epidemic'

Your latest coronavirus news: A leading expert says government interventions have been effective in delaying transmissions; but warns that we will likely see an exponential rise in infections once lockdown is lifted.

WHAT'S HAPPENING IN SA

Cases update: 

The latest number of confirmed cases is 2 272.

Two more deaths were recorded in the country - the total is now 27.

There have been 83 663 tests conducted so far.

READ MORE |All the confirmed cases of coronavirus in SA

Latest news:

South Africa might still see an exponential increase in Covid-19 once the lockdown is lifted, Professor Salim Abdool Karim, chair of the ministerial advisory group on Covid-19, warned on Monday.

Karim added the lockdown has been effective in delaying transmissions and easing the burden on our healthcare facilities.

Speaking at a public engagement meeting with Health Minister Zweli Mkhize, Karim explained what might happen after the lockdown.

"What we would hope for is that the number of new cases will steadily decline, and it will disappear and that’s the end of the story. I’m sorry to tell you, but that’s very unlikely," Karim said.

READ MORE | The difficult truth: Rise in cases expected after lockdown, says expert

SLIDESHOW: SA’s Covid-19 epidemic: Trends and next steps

Since the start of the Covid-19 lockdown, 183 schools have been vandalised across South Africa, according to Basic Education Minister Angie Motshekga. In some cases, equipment was stolen and in others, entire schools were burnt down.

"It is quite disheartening that criminal elements in our communities could destroy the infrastructure of their own children with such apparent impunity," Motshekga said in a statement.

Schools closed on 18 March when President Cyril Ramaphosa declared a national state of disaster. A lockdown was put in place to ensure that as many people as possible stay home to curb the spread of Covid-19.

Pupils were given work to complete at home amid uncertainty over when schools would be able to reopen.

However, an unforeseen outcome of this was that schools were targeted by vandals, burglars and arsonists.

READ MORE | Motshekga: 183 schools targeted since start of lockdown

Seven police officers were arrested for allegedly trying to break into a shop that sells alcohol in Bonnievale on Sunday.

National police spokesperson Brigadier Vishnu Naidoo said they were expected to appear in court on Tuesday. 

They face charges of defeating the ends of justice. 

The sale of alcohol during the coronavirus lockdown is prohibited. 

READ MORE | Lockdown: 7 cops arrested in 'booze shop break-in' amid alcohol prohibition

Drugs, knives and contaminated needles were among the items police seized during raids at the Lyttelton sports ground in Centurion, where more than 300 homeless people are being sheltered during the lockdown.

Gauteng's acting social development MEC Panyaza Lesufi and Tshwane administrator, Lebogang Mahaye, visited the makeshift shelter on Monday, following reports that people were fleeing and heading back to the streets. Many of those living there suffer from substance abuse.

Initially, people living there were allowed to go out as long as their reasons for leaving were allowed under the lockdown regulations.

However, these privileges have been revoked due to the trade of drugs and illicit cigarettes.

READ MORE | Lockdown: Drugs, knives and contaminated needles found at makeshift shelter in Centurion

A 36-year-old man has been arrested for the rape of an 18-year-old woman at the tent the city set up to shelter Cape Town's homeless on a sports field in Strandfontein during the country's Covid-19 lockdown.

"According to the victim, the incident occurred on Wednesday evening, but it was only reported on Friday night," police spokesperson Captain FC van Wyk said.

The 36-year-old is expected to appear in the Mitchells Plain Magistrate's Court on Tuesday. 

The facility at Strandfontein has been bogged down in controversy for various reasons, which range from criticism directed at the City of Cape Town for the type of accommodation offered, to complaints from residents in the immediate vicinity who say they have not been consulted about the camp. 

It is on a sports field and critics say that it is not set up properly, has no beds and no proper ablution facilities.

READ MORE | 36-year-old man arrested for rape in controversial lockdown camp for Cape Town's homeless

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.

Positive cases worldwide were more than 1.92m, while deaths were more than 119 000.

There were more than 582 000 cases in the United States, and more than 23 000 deaths.

Italy has now surpassed China and has the most deaths, with 3 405.

READ MORE | All the confirmed cases worldwide

Latest news:

Under strong international pressure, China on Sunday vowed to improve the treatment of Africans in the southern city of Guangzhou following accusations of discrimination linked to the coronavirus pandemic, and said it rejected all "racist and discriminatory" remarks.

Africans in the industrial centre of 15 million say they have become targets of suspicion and subjected to forced evictions, arbitrary quarantines and mass coronavirus testing, particularly as Beijing steps up its fight against imported infections.

The African Union expressed its "extreme concern" about the situation on Saturday, calling on Beijing to take immediate corrective measures.

The United States, meanwhile, denounced what it called "xenophobia towards Africans by Chinese authorities."

READ MORE | China vows improvements for Africans after virus discrimination claims

Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates said that the world was entering into "uncharted territory" because it was not prepared for a pandemic like Covid-19, the disease caused by the novel coronavirus.

Gates, who has been warning about the risk of a pandemic disease for years and who has poured millions into fighting the new coronavirus outbreak, told BBC Breakfast on Sunday that the world should have invested more into mitigating a potential global health crisis.

"Well, there was a period when I and other health experts were saying that this was the greatest potential downfall the world faced," he told the BBC in an interview on Sunday, highlighting his previous warnings against the possibility of a deadly pandemic.

"So we definitely will look back and wish we had invested more," he said, "so that we could quickly have all the diagnostics, drugs, and vaccines."

READ MORE | Bill Gates warns that the world is entering 'uncharted territory'

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.

READ MORE: Coronavirus 101 

Image credit: Getty Images