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Infectious Diseases

Updated 12 June 2020

Coronavirus morning update: More than 1 million tests conducted, and 'inappropriate' alcohol sales

More than one million tests now conducted in SA, which is "no small feat"; and the police minister says he would not have lifted the alcohol ban if he had his way.

WHAT'S HAPPENING IN SA

Cases update: 

The latest number of confirmed cases is 58 568.

According to the latest update, 1 284 deaths have been recorded in the country.

There have been 33 252 recoveries.

So far, 1 028 399 tests have been conducted, with 29 999 new tests.

In a statement on Thursday, Health Minister Zweli Mkhize said having conducted more than one million tests was no small feat. 

"I would like to pay tribute to all the technicians and pathologists in the NHLS and private laboratories and all the staff who work in the most risky environment, 24 hours a day, to churn out these results," he said.

READ MORE | All the confirmed cases of coronavirus in SA

Latest news:

ANC national executive committee member Bheki Cele has accused his own party of unintentionally endorsing attacks on the police by criminals and communities with its anti-racism, anti-police brutality campaign.

Cele, who is also the police minister, delivered a public lecture on Thursday on behalf of the eThekwini region on the role of ANC members in the fight to combat the coronavirus pandemic.

The minister said he was not happy to hear the ANC "shout police brutality", without inviting the policing sector to have a say.

The ANC launched the campaign, which included Black Friday last week, where the country and the party's president, Cyril Ramaphosa, spoke out against the racism and brutality meted out to citizens by the security cluster.

READ MORE | Cele slams ANC's anti-police brutality campaign, says alcohol ban shouldn't have been lifted

A security guard has been suspended after a Covid-19-positive patient disappeared from the Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium's quarantine site in Port Elizabeth.

John Doch, 72, of Graaff-Reinet walked out of the 200-bed hospital on Friday afternoon after a guard allegedly deserted his post.

Hospital operator, the Mandela Bay Development Agency (MBDA), has reported the incident to the police, while the M Secure company suspended the guard.

Port Elizabeth police spokesperson Captain Sandra Janse van Rensberg said the incident was reported to the police. "There is no formal case that has been opened at this stage. The matter was indeed reported to us.

READ MORE | Covid-19 patient goes missing at isolation facility in Nelson Mandela Bay

Ninety-eight teachers in the Western Cape have contracted Covid-19, the province's head of the education department Brian Schreuder said.

He said that only people who had direct contact with them via a hug or a hand shake need consider themselves a direct contact for the purposes of isolating or quarantining.

Education MEC Debbie Schäfer said the names of the schools and teachers will not be publicised because once word gets out, principals who are already busy, are swamped with questions and visits.

The teachers and schools also have the right to privacy, she said.

READ MORE | 98 teachers in Western Cape positive for Covid-19, as 16 schools close

People residing and working in the Johannesburg city centre have raised fears about the spiralling cases of Covid-19 in the area.

According to figures released by the Gauteng Department of Health on Thursday, 821 people have tested positive, with 234 recoveries. This is the highest number of cases in a suburb in the province.

Thando Ndaba, who works and also resides in town, said she had heard over the radio that the CBD was now a hotspot.

"I am informed about the virus and I am aware that what we are seeing now is just early days, the worst is coming. As a person who interacts with many different people on a daily basis, I wear my mask and cover my face with a plastic face shield," said Ndaba.

READ MORE | Covid-19: Joburg inner city residents, workers concerned as positive cases increase daily

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 Friday morning, positive cases worldwide were more than 7.48 million, while deaths were close to 419 000.

The United States had the most cases in the world - more than 2 million, as well as the most deaths - almost 114 000.

READ MORE | All the confirmed cases worldwide

Latest news:

On 2 May, Iran's number of new daily coronavirus cases dipped to its lowest point since March. It seemed the nation's outbreak was contained.

But Amir Afkhami, an associate professor of global health at George Washington University, didn't think so.

"Iran will likely be a major repository and major source of the spread of the coronavirus to the region in the months to come," he said during a webinar on 16 April.

Afkhami turned out to be right: For the last two weeks, Iran has reported more than 2 000 new cases each day. On June 4, the country reported around 3 600 new infections - its largest single-day total to date. Unlike its initial outbreak, which was centered in the northern cities of Tehran and Qom, the latest outbreak is concentrated in Khuzestan, a southwestern province bordering Iraq.

Afkhami told Business Insider that a "triple threat" of factors facilitated high rates of transmission in Khuzestan: an erosion of public trust, testing delays, and the premature rollback of lockdown restrictions.

READ MORE | Iran's second wave of coronavirus infections is showing the rest of the world what to avoid

LATEST RESEARCH

As the Covid-19 pandemic accelerated across the globe, governments worldwide had to implement measures that had never been used in their lifetime – lockdowns, border closures, social distancing, the cancellation of large gatherings and closure of several services, schools and businesses – in an effort to contain the rapid spread of Covid-19.

South Africa's first case of Covid-19 was reported on 5 March. Within two weeks, a nationwide hard lockdown was announced as the number of cases rose. As the effectiveness of lockdown is questioned and the economic repercussions are weighed up against the efforts to save lives, many are wondering "is this worth it?"

But new data from the Global Policy Laboratory at the University of California in Berkeley suggests maybe it was, at least for several other regions.

A new pre-published paper based on the data appeared on the online version of the journal Nature. The study authors compiled new data based on 1 717 local regions and their non-pharmaceutical measures to contain Covid-19. These regions are in China, South Korea, Italy, France, Iran and the United States.

READ MORE | What if there were no lockdowns for Covid-19? Analysis of a study is showing a shocking alternative

Since the outbreak of the new coronavirus, plenty of unreliable and false information has been doing the rounds on several socila media and messaging platforms, including WhatsApp, with many people not always questioning the truth and validity of the messages.

In recent weeks, a lengthy WhatsApp text message has been widely shared, and claims to be “from a GP Nurse in the UK” who put together “some sensible advice” for people who become infected with Covid-19.

Many people are vulnerable to falling for messages such as the above. Health24, therefore, reached out to Professor Susan Goldstein, a public health specialist in the Wits School of Public Health.

Although the original source of the message remains undetermined, Goldstein broke down the contents of the message, setting apart facts from fiction.

READ MORE | An expert breaks down a viral message you've likely seen - 'advice' from a UK 'nurse' on 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