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Infectious Diseases

14 July 2020

Coronavirus morning update: SA's 'hotspots of hunger', and alcohol industry 'blindsided' by ban

SA is faced with the double storm of Covid-19 and hunger, minister warns; and the alcohol industry says it was blindsided by the reinstatement of the ban on alcohol.

WHAT'S HAPPENING IN SA

Cases update: 

The latest number of confirmed cases is 287 796.

According to the latest update, 4 172 deaths have been recorded in the country.

There have been 138 241 recoveries.

So far, more than 2.19 million tests have been conducted, with 40 233 new tests.

READ MORE | All the confirmed cases of coronavirus in SA

Latest news:

The Minister of Social Development, Lindiwe Zulu, announced on Monday that the department had identified hotspots of hunger, saying "we are looking the Covid-19 storm in the eye, but there's another storm of hunger".

Zulu said the areas are in the Eastern Cape, Western Cape, Northern Cape and Mpumalanga.

She said this during a media briefing on Monday, following President Cyril Ramaphosa's address to the nation on Sunday evening.

"We need to respond as quickly as we possibly can, we need to be agile. The storm is here and there isn't time," she said.

READ MORE | SA faced with double storm of Covid-19 and hunger, warns Zulu

South Africa's alcohol industry has said it was blindsided by government's immediate reinstatement of the ban on alcohol, warning of a dire economic impact due to likely job losses in the industry.

President Cyril Ramaphosa announced on Sunday night that the ban on the sale of alcohol would be reinstated on Monday. Alcohol sales were prohibited as part of the country’s lockdown in March and had been partially reinstated last month.

In a joint statement, the National Liquor Traders Council, South African Liquor Brandowners Association (Salba) , the Beer Association of South Africa, Vinpro, and the Liquor Traders Association of South Africa, said they were shocked and disappointed.

"The industry was given no warning about the ban, nor an opportunity to consult with the National Coronavirus Command Centre (NCCC) before a decision was made and no consideration was given to the immediate logistical difficulties it poses for both suppliers, distributors and retailers alike," the industry bodies said.

READ MORE | We were blindsided by fresh ban, says alcohol industry

Justice Minister Ronald Lamola says the government had been reluctant to criminalise the non-compliance of wearing masks, but has been left with no choice due to people's irresponsible behaviour.

When the country was first placed under lockdown, the government encouraged the wearing of masks, but it would now be enforced as part of measures to slow the spread of Covid-19.

But Lamola added the obligation had been placed on the shoulders of compliance officers of public buildings, and not on individuals.

He made the comments at a media briefing on Monday, following President Cyril Ramaphosa's address to the nation on Sunday evening.

READ MORE | Decision to criminalise the non-wearing of masks not an easy one - Lamola

The Restaurant Association of South Africa (Rasa) may sue the government for damages suffered by lockdown regulations.

According to Wendy Alberts, the CEO of Rasa, the association is “seeking council today [Monday] with our attorney and advocates Mooney Ford to see what claim we have against government for damages on non-performance and restrictions of our liquor licences and the regulations regarding the substantiation on the curfew and how we can leverage this angle to put pressure on government”.

This follows on the announcement by President Cyril Ramaphosa last night that the sale of alcohol would be banned “with immediate effect”.

The association also particularly wants a rebate on liquor licences. Restaurants pay an annual fee for a liquor licence. As they have been unable to serve alcohol under large parts of lockdown, Rasa wants the government to refund part of this licensing cost.

READ MORE | Restaurants may sue government - they want money back for their losses

"Radical error", "overreach", "inexplicably" are some of the words used in Minister of Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma's approach to the Supreme Court of Appeal (SCA).

She is applying for leave to appeal the ruling which declared six of the alert Level 3 regulations invalid, even though these regulations were not in existence when the court heard the matter.

These include the regulations pertaining to the limiting of exercise, funerals, the closure of beaches and public parks, and the declaration of the contravention of certain disaster regulations a criminal offence.

In what was regarded as a bombshell ruling, Gauteng High Court Judge Norman Davis on 2 June granted the Liberty Fighters Network's (LFN) application to declare the regulations unconstitutional and, therefore, invalid.

READ MORE | Dlamini-Zuma asks SCA for leave to appeal 'inexplicable' high court ruling

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 Monday night, positive cases worldwide were more than 12.99 million while deaths were more than 570 000.

The United States had the most cases in the world - more than 3.34 million, as well as the most deaths - more than 135 000.

READ MORE | All the confirmed cases worldwide

Latest news:

The World Health Organisation warned Monday that there could be no return to normality any time soon as too many countries were bungling their response to the coronavirus pandemic.

After a daily record of 230 000 new cases of Covid-19 were reported to the WHO on Sunday, the UN health agency said the pandemic was only going to get worse unless people stuck to the basics of physical distancing, handwashing and wearing masks.

WHO chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus warned that countries that were easing their way out of lockdowns were now witnessing a resurgence of the virus because they were not following proven methods to reduce risk.

"I want to be straight with you: there will be no return to the 'old normal' for the foreseeable future," Ghebreyesus told a virtual news briefing.

"Let me blunt: too many countries are headed in the wrong direction.

"The virus remains public enemy number one, but the actions of many governments and people do not reflect this."

READ MORE | WHO warns of a global Covid-19 'resurgence': 'Many countries are headed in the wrong direction'

LATEST RESEARCH

It has become evident to doctors and researchers that Covid-19 might be triggering neurological complications in patients – even in those with mild symptoms.

One study on a mini lab-grown brain showed that the virus can directly attack brain cells.

Some of the brain disorders that have been identified in coronavirus patients include encephalopathy, ischaemic stroke and Guillain-Barré Syndrome, which can cause haemorrhaging and inflammation.

But it isn't easy diagnosing these conditions, especially if the patient is impaired due to a ventilator.

READ MORE | Brain disorders found in Covid-19 patients with mild symptoms

As experts are doing everything in their power to find a successful treatment or vaccine for SARS-CoV-2, the novel coronavirus that causes Covid-19, other scientists are exploring ways to destroy the disease before it even has a chance to infect the body.

Researchers from the University of Houston, in a collaboration with other teams, have designed a “catch and kill” air filter that can trap and instantly kill SARS-CoV-2.

As Covid-19 spread across the globe, it had devastating effects in areas where social distancing and fresh air are not possible – including airlines, public transport, cruise ships and large office buildings.

While airlines and other sectors of the economy are slowly reopening to avoid further damage to the economy, members of the public are urged to wear masks, especially in these tightly packed areas where physical distancing can’t be maintained.

READ MORE | Can this newly created air filter 'catch and kill' coronavirus?

Both flu and Covid-19 can raise your risk for a stroke, but the odds appear to be eight times higher with the coronavirus, a new study finds.

Among more than 1 900 patients with Covid-19, 1.6% suffered a stroke, versus 0.2% of nearly 1 500 patients seriously ill with flu, researchers found.

"Doctors and practitioners taking care of patients with Covid-19 infection should remain vigilant for signs and symptoms of stroke, because prompt diagnosis may permit effective stroke treatment," said researcher Dr Neal Parikh, an assistant professor of neurology and neuroscience at Weill Cornell Medicine in New York City.

"Fundamentally, our results support the notion that Covid-19 infection is more severe than influenza infection," Parikh added.

READ MORE | Stroke appears 8 times more likely with Covid than with flu

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