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Infectious Diseases

Updated 20 September 2020

Coronavirus morning update: SA could return to tighter lockdown restrictions if cases rise

Your latest coronavirus news: Minister Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma has warned that South Africa could go back to tighter lock down restrictions if Covid-19 cases rise.

WHAT'S HAPPENING IN SA

Cases update: 

The latest number of confirmed cases is 657 627.

According to the latest update, 15 857 deaths have been recorded in the country.

There have been 586 844 recoveries.

So far, just over 4 million tests have been conducted, with 20 057 new tests reported.

READ MORE | All the confirmed cases of coronavirus in SA

Latest news:

Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs (Cogta) Minister, Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma has warned that South Africa could go back to tighter lock down restrictions if Covid-19 cases rise, following the relaxation of lockdown to Level 1.

Dlamini-Zuma was briefing media on Covid-19 Level 1 regulations on Friday following president Ramaphosa's speech on Wednesday.

Ramaphosa announced on Wednesday that the country would enter Level 1 from 20 September, bringing with it a shorter curfew, relaxed alcohol sale regulations, and an increase in the numbers of people who could gather.

Dlamini-Zuma said it was true that many thought that as the levels eased, it meant the risk was lower.

READ MORE | Lockdown: SA could return to tighter restrictions if cases rise, warns Dlamini-Zuma

Government officials decided to keep a curfew during Level 1 to stop the "chaos" of especially young people being out at all hours drinking, Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs (Cogta) Minister Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma said on Friday.

Briefing media on Covid-19 Level 1 regulations, Dlamini-Zuma said people tended to relax when imbibing.

"If people have been sitting in a tavern or even in a restaurant, you don't want people to sit there for hours and hours," she said.

"People, when they start drinking, get drunk. They forget the mask, they forget social distancing. It becomes chaos. So you don't want that chaos to continue right into the morning."

READ MORE | Level 1: Curfew is to stop people sitting in taverns, restaurants for hours, says Dlamini-Zuma

Minister of Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma has said a schedule of countries beyond the African continent allowing limited travel to South Africa will change depending on the progress each country makes in bringing down Covid-19 infections and deaths.

Dlamini-Zuma addressed reporters on Friday afternoon, following President Cyril Ramaphosa's announcement on Wednesday evening that South Africa's national lockdown would shift from level 2 to level 1 starting next week Monday.

Among other things, the shift will allow more previously restricted businesses and gatherings to resume under social distancing and hygiene protocols and for the borders which exclusively took in cargo under previous lockdown level to allow travelers and tourists.

"The eighteen land borders that were open for cargo will now be open for everything, including migrants and tourists. The 35 that were closed will remain closed. We are opening the eighteen borders fully so that they can take traffic for tourists and people coming for any reason," said Dlamini-Zuma.

READ MORE | Dlamini-Zuma: Masks are a matter of life or death as SA borders open

The Ahmed Kathrada Foundation and civil society organisations demonstrated against Covid-19 corruption at Constitutional Hill on Friday. This was to highlight a campaign which calls for society to "say no to Covid-19 corruption".

The organisations called for accountability and transparency.

"The kind of sacrifices South Africans have made [during the pandemic], the last thing they expected was for the funds to help alleviate poverty, ensure that our frontline healthcare workers have the necessary PPE and equipment to do the work that was required, [was] to find that it was of inferior quality or not delivered at all," Ahmed Kathrada Foundation executive director Neeshan Balton said.

"[This] is simply because others thought it more important to line their own pockets and steal in a way that I think is the most brazen [act] that we have seen thus far," he added.

PICS | Civil society protests Covid-19 corruption: 'We want to see looters in orange overalls'

Police at Mogwadi, in the Capricorn district of Limpopo, have arrested a member of the South African National Defence Force (SANDF) for allegedly shooting a 27-year-old man at a local shopping complex on Thursday afternoon at about 12:30.

According to Limpopo police spokesperson Brigadier Motlafela Mojapelo, members of the SANDF were monitoring Covid-19 compliance in the area when they approached a group of people who were not wearing face masks.

"When asked why they were not wearing masks, an argument allegedly ensued and one of the soldiers shot the victim," Mojapelo said.

The injured man was taken to the local hospital where he is receiving medical attention.

READ MORE | SANDF soldier allegedly shoots Limpopo man who wasn't wearing mask

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 over 30 million, while deaths were over 948 000.

The United States had the most cases in the world - more than 6.7 million, as well as the most deaths - more than 198 000.

READ MORE | All the confirmed cases worldwide

Latest news:

A full global economic recovery from the coronavirus pandemic may take as much as five years, according to World Bank's chief economist, Carmen Reinhart.

"We have seen [economic] collapses that are very much outside of the norm," Reinhart said at a virtual conference hosted by Spanish daily El Pais on Thursday.

"Naturally, there will be rebounds but the real recovery – how long it will take for the average person to recover the income they had before the crisis, the GDP per capita – this will take at least five years," she said.

The economist, who is also a professor at the Harvard Kennedy School, said that rebounds will rely on when economic activity becomes "more normal" once lockdowns end fully. She highlighted that the pandemic-caused recession will be more prominent and last longer in some countries than in others.

Global poverty rates will rise following the crisis for the first time in 20 years, she said.

Adding to widespread outlooks of uncertainty, she said: "After the 2008-2009 crisis, I more or less knew what to expect, but here, we are in a situation that is very different."

READ MORE | Full global recovery from Covid-19 may take 5 years, World Bank chief economist says

Europe's healthcare regulator has endorsed using dexamethasone to treat Covid-19 patients with breathing difficulties, paving the way for the steroid to become the region's second approved treatment for the respiratory illness.

The European Medicines Agency (EMA) said on Friday the drug could be an option to treat adults and adolescents needing oxygen therapy or mechanical ventilation, after concluding its review of results from a trial by British scientists.

The study, dubbed RECOVERY, by researchers at the University of Oxford, showed in June that dexamethasone reduced death rates by about a third in severely ill, hospitalised Covid-19 patients. The drug has since been approved in Japan as a Covid-19 treatment.

The decades old drug is cheap and widely available, commonly used against a range of inflammatory conditions. Companies can now apply for a licence to their national regulators or the EMA for an expanded use of the drug, the watchdog said.

READ MORE | EU regulator backs dexamethasone as Covid-19 treatment

LATEST RESEARCH

To date, several studies, such as this one reported on by Health24, have indicated that transmission of the Covid-19 virus by children may largely be asymptomatic (displaying no symptoms).

However, according to a new case-control study that compared the numbers of test results indicating viral infection among children and adults who were admitted to a hospital in Milan, Italy, and were asymptomatic, children may carry the virus less frequently than adults.

The study was published in JAMA Pediatrics in September.

The study authors wrote that social and public health policies, such as school closures, have been implemented in many countries, and that, based on this, the role of children in asymptomatically carrying SARS-CoV-2 needs to be investigated.

For their study, they analysed patients who were admitted for non-infectious conditions to Fondazione Ca’ Granda Ospedale Maggiore Policlinico hospital in Milan, from 1 March to 30 April 2020.

READ MORE | Coronavirus: Fewer child asymptomatic carriers than believed, evidence from Italy suggests

For some Covid-19 patients, the effects linger long after recovery.

Colloquially called "long Covid", some people who have recovered from Covid-19 are suffering from health issues like chronic fatigue, heart difficulties, breathing problems, and even a decline in mental health. Basically, the longer-term effects of Covid-19 are unknown, as we're still in the throes of the pandemic.

Even children – who generally have mild reactions to the virus – might face long-term health effects indirectly linked to the disease.

Research from Austria showed lung and heart damage weeks after recovery, although there appeared to be some self-recovery after a longer period of time, highlighting the importance of pulmonary rehabilitation for hospitalised patients.

According to a Nature article, research yet to be published arrived at similar findings, seeing scarring on lungs more than a month later in a third of a 33-patient cohort. While these were severe cases, the overall rate of this kind of lung damage is expected to be 10% of total infections. On a global scale, that's, however, still hundreds of thousands of people that have to deal with new health issues and disabilities.

READ MORE | 'Long Covid': Clinics could be our future as recovered patients struggle with after effects

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