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Infectious Diseases

27 April 2020

Coronavirus morning update: SA cases now more than 4 500, as KZN premier warns on eThekwini

Your latest coronavirus news: Cases in SA are now more than 4 500, as deaths rose to 87; and eThekwini may face intensified lockdown measures while the rest of the country moves to Level 4; according to the KwaZulu-Natal premier.

WHAT'S HAPPENING IN SA

Cases update: 

The latest number of confirmed cases is 4 546.

According to the latest update, 87 deaths have been recorded in the country.

The Western Cape has the most cases - 1 608, and deaths - 33.

Another 7 639 tests have been conducted - bringing the total to 168 643.

READ MORE |All the confirmed cases of coronavirus in SA

Latest news:

eThekwini may face intensified lockdown measures while the rest of the country moves to Level 4, KwaZulu-Natal Premier Sihle Zikalala announced on Sunday.

On Thursday, President Cyril Ramaphosa announced a risk-adjusted strategy, which will see the country downgrading to Level 4 from 1 May.

Level 4 makes provision for limited economic activity and also allows for some movement. A curfew from 20:00 to 05:00 will kick in, it will be mandatory to wear a cloth face mask when you leave your home, and hot foods will be available - for delivery only.

However, the buying and selling of alcohol are still prohibited.

"If we were to use the National Risk-Adjusted Strategy guideline, as things stand, it looks like eThekwini will still remain under stricter lockdown regulations compared to other districts – unless there is a drastic change in the coming days," said Zikalala.

READ MORE | This is why eThekwini could face stricter lockdown regulations - KZN premier

The majority of people responding to a survey by the Human Sciences Research Council (HSRC) believe that the national lockdown will impact on their financial security.

Between 45% and 63% of people reported that the lockdown would make it difficult to pay bills, debts, earn income, feed their families and keep their jobs.

Additionally, 26% of people reported that they had no money for food, announced Priscilla Reddy, extraordinary professor at the HSRC, in a presentation of the findings on Sunday.

More than half (55%) of informal settlement residents had no money for food and, about two-thirds of residents from townships, also had no money for food, the survey found.

READ MORE | Lockdown: A quarter of South Africans have no money for food - survey

One in 10 smokers has been able to access cigarettes during the national lockdown, according to the results of a survey released by the Human Sciences Research Council (HSRC).

The survey, which was carried out between 7 April and 14 April and had over 19 000 respondents, was set out to understand what South Africans know, and how they are reacting, to the Covid-19 emergency.

It found that cigarettes were more accessible than alcohol during the lockdown, according to Priscilla Reddy, extraordinary professor at the HSRC, in a presentation of the findings on Sunday.

The survey found that a quarter of the people from informal settlements were able to buy cigarettes during the lockdown, which implied that informal trade had continued in these areas.

With South Africa under lockdown since 27 March, the sale of tobacco products and liquor has been prohibited.

READ MORE | Lockdown: Smokers still able to get cigarettes, informal trade is active - survey

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 Monday morning, positive cases worldwide were more than 2.96 million, while deaths were more than 206 000.

The United States had the most cases in the world - more than 963 000, as well as the most deaths - more than 54 500.

READ MORE | All the confirmed cases worldwide

Latest news:

China has confiscated over 89 million poor quality face masks, a government official said on Sunday, as Beijing faces a slew of complaints about faulty protective gear exported worldwide.

Demand for protective equipment has soared as nations across the globe battle the deadly coronavirus, which has infected around 2.9 million people.

But a number of countries have complained about faulty masks and other products exported by China, mostly for use by medical workers and vulnerable groups.

China's market regulators had inspected nearly 16 million businesses and seized over 89 million masks and 418 000 pieces of protective gear as of Friday, said Gan Lin, deputy director of the State Administration of Market Regulation, at a press conference.

READ MORE | China confiscates faulty masks, disinfectants set to be exported worldwide

Boris Johnson will return to work at the start of the week as pressure increases on the UK government over its handling of the coronavirus crisis which has claimed more than 20,000 lives.

Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab told Sky News that Johnson would be back in his Downing Street office on Monday after recovering from the virus and was in "good spirits" and "raring to go".

Raab on Sunday resisted growing calls for the government to relax strict social distancing rules and said they would "be with us for some time".

He told the BBC: "We do want to look at when it's safe, when it's responsible, at ways to allow more outside activities to take place but, again, we have got to have the evidence that it's a surefooted step and doesn't allow the coronavirus to get a grip back on the country."

Johnson ordered the country into lockdown on March 23. It was extended on April 16 and is due for review on May 7.

READ MORE | UK resists calls to ease lockdown as Johnson set to return to work

Up to half of the people who died of COVID-19 in Europe were residents of long-term care facilities, Hans Kluge, the WHO's regional European director, said on Thursday.

The data, which does not include every European nation, was released Thursday during the WHO daily press briefing.

"This is an unimaginable human tragedy," Kluge said. "To the many who are experiencing this loss, my thoughts are with you."

Residents of nursing homes, often those who are of advanced age and have underlying mental and physical illnesses, are at an elevated risk of being infected and suffering from complications related to COVID-19.

Many nursing home residents have also gone without visits from their friends and family as lockdown orders are in place, adding more emotional toll on them, Kluge said.

READ MORE | As many as half of Europe's COVID-19 deaths were people in long-term care facilities

LATEST RESEARCH

Six researchers sought to look into the potential diagnostic value of saliva, by looking closely at existing studies on saliva and Covid-19. They concluded that saliva swabs can be effective and yield quicker results – if done correctly.

Saliva is a common medium for virus transmission. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), the new coronavirus virus spreads primarily through droplets of saliva or discharge from the nose – which can happen when an infected person coughs or sneezes.

Saliva, the authors of the paper note, is made up of 99% water, with the remaining 1% comprising components for, among others, the purpose of tasting and digesting.

Breathing, talking, coughing and sneezing are all ways saliva droplets are generated. The droplets are formed as particles and consist of a mixture of moisture and droplet nuclei of microorganisms.

The authors further explain: “The amount, distance, and size of saliva droplets vary among people, suggesting the infectious strength and transmission path of saliva droplets differ when [the] same pathogen was contracted.”

READ MORE | Coronavirus saliva tests less invasive, safer, and accurate – but only if done properly

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