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Infectious Diseases

27 July 2020

Coronavirus morning update: Mantashe discharged from hospital and US numbers may be 10 times higher

Gwede Mantashe has been discharged after testing positive for Covid-19 and CDC predicts that US case numbers may be 10 more than is reported.

WHAT'S HAPPENING IN SA

Cases update: 

The latest number of confirmed cases is 445 433.

According to the latest update, 6 769 of deaths have been recorded in the country.

There have been 256 077 recoveries.

So far, 2 773 778 have been conducted, with 42 966 new tests.

READ MORE | All the confirmed cases of coronavirus in SA

Latest news:

Minister of Mineral Resources and Energy Gwede Mantashe has been discharged after he was hospitalised for Covid-19 earlier this month.

The Presidency confirmed that Mantashe was discharged from hospital on Sunday evening.

"Though he has been discharged, he has been advised by his medical team to stay home for another seven days," Cabinet spokesperson Phumla Williams said in a statement.

"We are grateful that Minister Mantashe is now at home with his family and on his way to a full recovery."

"We wish our other colleagues in the Executive, and all other South Africans battling this virus, a speedy recovery."

READ MORE | Covid-19: Gwede Mantashe discharged from hospital 

With more than 1 557 healthcare workers infected with the Covid-19 coronavirus, the expected peak in KwaZulu-Natal could be disastrous.

The Democratic Nursing Organisation of SA in the province says it is worried about the root cause of infection among health workers in the private and public spheres.

A few months ago, the union’s spokesperson, Mandla Shabangu, said that more than 86 employees from the Netcare group had been found to be infected with the virus, and stressed the need for management to consistently provide adequate personal protective equipment (PPE) to healthcare workers.

“To our surprise, our members were testing positive. We were happy that the hospital closed down to get cleaned, and instituted an investigation to identify the root cause of infections and implement mitigations to curb the spread,” said Shabangu.

He said the same situation was prevailing in public institutions, where more than 850 health workers had been infected since March.

READ MORE | KZN may not cope with Covid cases 

The decision of some schools to open ahead of President Cyril Ramaphosa's 24 August return date is well within the law, Federation of Governing Bodies of South African Schools (Fedsas) CEO Paul Colditz said on Sunday.

"The president's speech is just a speech. It does not constitute law," he told News24.

He said the direction some schools took to open ahead of the 24 August return date was based on government gazettes.

"The gazette is issued by the minister and determines the school calendar."

Colditz said provision was also made during the gazetting of the phasing-in of schooling.

"The directions in terms of when there was a phased-in approach made provision for a deviation. Schools could deviate from those dates if they were well prepared to ensure the safety and health of learners and teachers."

READ MORE | Cyril Ramaphosa's speech on school return dates 'does not constitute law' yet - Fedsas

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 DAY night, positive cases worldwide were  more than 16.11 million, while deaths were close to 646 000.

The United States had the most cases in the world - more than 4.2 million, as well as the most deaths - close to 147 000.

READ MORE | All the confirmed cases worldwide

Latest news:

The US has by far the largest coronavirus outbreak in the world, but its 4 million reported infections are a small fraction of the true case total.

A new model from the Covid-19 response team at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found that coronavirus cases are probably more than 10 times higher than the total tally in many parts of the country.

The researchers performed antibody tests in 10 sites across the US, including early hotspots like New York City, western Washington, and the San Francisco Bay Area, as well as places with more recent outbreaks, like South Florida and Louisiana. Antibody tests can tell whether someone was previously infected with Covid-19 even if they didn't get diagnosed initially.

The researchers compared the results of those tests, collected from late March through mid-May, to the number of cases reported during that time. They estimated that there were around 1.8 million coronavirus cases across the 10 sites, but only 165,000 infections had been reported. That meant cases were almost 11 times higher than the official number.

Projecting that discrepancy nationwide suggests the US saw 14.4 million infections over the period studied. Just 1.3 million infections were recorded during that time, however, according to data from Johns Hopkins University.

READ MORE | US coronavirus cases are probably 10 times higher than the official numbers, more and more research suggests

LATEST RESEARCH

It is well known that vaccines are responsible for improving health and decreasing death rates among children in low-income countries. However, as Covid-19 swept across the globe, national immunisation programmes became collateral damage – seen as placing too much of a burden on health systems pressured by the new coronavirus.

With the physical distancing measures that Covid-19 requires, people are also more hesitant to take their children for their regular immunisations.

But a recent study published in The Lancet Global Health compared the benefits of getting vaccinated with the risks introduced by Covid-19.

The study authors used a high-impact and low-impact scenario to approximate death in children that could be caused by decreased numbers of vaccinations during the Covid-19 pandemic.

They looked at all 54 countries of Africa and found that the number of deaths prevented through vaccine programmes outnumbered the projected deaths caused by Covid-19.

READ MORE | Routine childhood vaccine benefits outweigh Covid-19 risks, study finds 

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