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Infectious Diseases

06 June 2020

Coronavirus morning update: President calls for responsible drinking, and latest on schools

The president has called on South Africans not "to drink so much they injure others", and the ConCourt has rejected an urgent application to stop schools reopening.

WHAT'S HAPPENING IN SA

Cases update: 

The latest number of confirmed cases is 43 434.

According to the latest update, 908 deaths have been recorded in the country, after 60 more Covid-19 related deaths were reported. 

There have been 23 088 recoveries.

So far, 850 871 tests have been conducted, with 30 196 new tests - the second consecutive report where more than 30 000 tests were conducted.

READ MORE | All the confirmed cases of coronavirus in SA

Latest news:

President Cyril Ramaphosa has called on South Africans not "to drink so much they injure others" - and put undue pressure on the national health system.

This, after reports this week alcohol-related injuries had spiked almost immediately after the restriction on its sale was lifted on Monday under Level 3 lockdown.

The president was speaking in Brackenfell, Cape Town, where he was inspecting a "Red Dot" transport initiative whereby 6 000 healthcare workers are transported safely in special taxis in the Western Cape.

When alcohol sales were legalised on Monday, "we suddenly saw a spike in the utilisation of hospital beds" due to alcohol-related harms, Ramaphosa said.

"It was always going to be a risk," he added.

Ramaphosa said the government was not contemplating re-banning alcohol, "as yet".

But he called on "all South Africans to behave in a manner that would take into account the rights of other people … we hope that message will sink in".

READ MORE | Ramaphosa calls for responsibility: 'Don't drink so much that you injure others'

The coronavirus will be with South Africa for at least 18 months to two years, and governments should never be found wanting in securing essentials such as emergency beds.

This was the blunt warning by President Ramaphosa to South Africa on Friday as he officially opened a massive 862-bed "Hospital of Hope" in the Cape Town International Convention Centre (CTICC).

Western Cape Premier Alan Winde echoed Ramaphosa, saying: "Yes, Covid-19 is going to be a marathon."But the president also called the Covid-19 crisis a "war".

Ramaphosa said: "We are at war. A life-and-death war. Saving lives must remain the main issue. This is a war we must win," he urged.

And he promised Winde a lack of funds would not be the obstacle towards ensuring enough testing kits, hospital beds, staff and budgets to pay for "all the tools" required to fight Covid-19.

Speaking of the need for more beds, Ramaphosa said: "We must always be ahead of the curve. We must never be found wanting. We must pull out all the stops."

He added the Western Cape was being watched "extremely closely" as it led South Africa in Covid-19 cases by far.

READ MORE | Ramaphosa at opening of CTICC 'Hospital of Hope': We must pull out all stops for more beds

The Constitutional Court on Friday denied Mmusi Maimane’s One South Africa movement direct access, on an urgent basis, to challenge government's decision to reopen schools.

It ruled that it had considered the application, but had concluded that the applicant did "not make out a case for direct access". It was dismissed, as it was "not in the interests of justice to hear it as this stage".

The apex court decided not to award costs.

OSA spokesperson Dipolelo Moime said the movement was consulting its legal team to consider its options, and not ruling out approaching the high court to seek an order to suspend the reopening of schools for 60 days, during which government must provide, under direct supervision of a court, proof of the existence of a comprehensive readiness and implementation plan which must preced the opening of any grade.

"We shall not back down in fighting for schools to be safe for students, for teachers and for support staff," he said.

"This particular department must be held to account at every step."

He said the movement respected the Constitutional Court’s decision.

READ MORE | Schools opening under Level 3: ConCourt rejects Maimane’s urgent application to stop schools reopening

Staff protested outside Tygerberg Hospital in Cape Town on Friday morning, asking for it to be closed and disinfected.

Since April, four staff members have died at the Western Cape's largest hospital after contracting Covid-19.

Nurses, some still in their scrubs, stood outside the facility with placards to protest their working conditions.

They said management was not supporting them after staff complained about personal protective equipment (PPE).

Thina Bombi, who has been a nurse for 13 years, told News24 she feared for her life.

"We don't have proper PPE and we are being exposed to the virus. We are fearing for our lives because we can be like our colleagues that have passed away," she said.

WATCH | 'We are losing colleagues': Tygerberg nurses protest for better working conditions

A day after lawyers wrote to the state attorney to raise concerns about "contradictory statements" the Minister of Defence made about an army investigation into Collins Khosa's death, her ministry has admitted that she got it wrong.

In a statement released on Friday, the ministry said that when the minister, Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula, told Parliament's Portfolio Committee on Defence that, in her opinion, there was no finalised report, she did so because she understood "that the investigation had been referred back by the chief of the South African National Defence Force (SANDF) and might be reopened for further investigation".

"This understanding has turned out not to be correct as the SANDF will not be reopening the board of inquiry for further investigations.

"The minister regrets any confusion that might have been caused by her address to the Joint Standing Committee on Defence and by the subsequent public reporting of her address to the Joint Standing Committee," read the statement.

READ MORE | Defence Minister Mapisa-Nqakula got it wrong on Collins Khosa inquiry, report is final - SANDF

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 Friday night, positive cases worldwide were more than 6.71 million, while deaths were close to 394 000.

The United States had the most cases in the world - more than 1.89 million, as well as the most deaths - closing in on 109 000.

READ MORE | All the confirmed cases worldwide

Latest news:

More than four months after identifying its first coronavirus case, Taiwan has reported less than 450 infections. Only seven people of the country's 24 million have died.

Part of that success in fighting the virus was Taiwan's quick response: The state began to monitor incoming travelers from Wuhan for signs of respiratory illness on December 30, after Chinese ophthalmologist Li Wenliang warned fellow doctors about a possible outbreak resembling SARS. Then in January, Taiwanese officials began isolating every infected patient and tracing their contacts.

But a second key element of Taiwan's strategy was communicating with citizens through humorous stunts and digital campaigns. The state hired comedians to help craft viral memes, adopted animal mascots to inform the public about important safety information, and even used teddy bears to encourage social distancing at restaurants.

Audrey Tang, Taiwan's digital minister, said at the TED 2020 conference that her mantra is "humour over rumour." So Tang developed a strategy for delivering information about the virus in a fast, fair, and fun manner.

READ MORE | Taiwan successfully used viral memes, animal mascots, and teddy bears to fight its Covid-19 outbreak

LATEST HEALTH NEWS

As fabric masks are now mandatory when you exercise outside, buy groceries or work outside your house, you might find that you are still struggling getting used to them.

Not only do those who wear glasses complain that their masks make their lenses fog up, or runners struggle to breathe with masks while out running, but there is another side-effect that a lot of us are starting to experience – skin woes.

Our skin is delicate and can suffer from breakouts or rashes if we don’t take good care of it. Add a fabric mask to the equation, and there are several reasons why our skins could suffer. Here are some of the most common reasons why your skin might be acting out as a result of wearing a mask.

According to Dr Ian Webster, a dermatologist from Cape Town, wearing a cloth mask occludes your skin, causing a build-up of moisture, mainly because of constant warm breath on your skin. The skin’s top layer (stratum corneum), when exposed to relentless moisture, may result in blocked pores, resulting in an acne breakout. The increased temperature or moisture can also cause rosacea, a red inflammatory rash, to flare up.

READ MORE | Covid-19: Masks and your skin – what you should know

When South Africa moved to lockdown level 3 on 1 June 2020, the exercise window was extended to 18:00, allowing more time to exercise outdoors.

Runners and walkers now have more time to enjoy the fresh air, but wearing a mask outside is still mandatory. Unfortunately, it can take a while to get used to this. You may notice that your breathing is more laboured than usual (and this is not only because you lost fitness during lockdown level 5) and that you struggle to reach your usual pace.

Your face might also feel hot and the mask or buff might become damp during your run, leading to discomfort and even skin issues.

While the risk of SARS-CoV-2 infection remains greater indoors, especially in an area without proper ventilation, keeping your distance from others and covering your mouth and nose while out running are still encouraged.

READ MORE | Running with a mask – what you should know, and how to choose the right one

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