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Infectious Diseases

Updated 10 July 2020

Coronavirus morning update: Storm 'is now arriving', and Western Cape premier tests positive

The health minister says the Covid-19 storm is approaching; and the Western Cape premier is self-isolating after confirming he tested positive for the virus.

WHAT'S HAPPENING IN SA

Cases update: 

The latest number of confirmed cases is 224 665.

According to the latest update, 3 602 deaths have been recorded in the country.

There have been 106 842 recoveries.

So far, 1.94 million tests have been conducted, with 36 867 new tests.

READ MORE | All the confirmed cases of coronavirus in SA

Latest news:

Health Minister Zweli Mkhize announced that the Covid-19 storm, which the government had consistently warned South Africans of, "is now arriving".

"We have now reached the surge. By now it's no longer a matter of announcing numbers of confirmed cases. We are now at a point where it's our fathers, mothers, brothers, sisters, close friends and comrades that are infected," Mkhize said in a ministerial statement in Parliament on Wednesday.

"As a country and the world at large, we are now in this reality where we must live with knowing that some of us cannot even bury our loved ones because of restrictions or even because we, ourselves, have been exposed.

"This pandemic that is attacking us globally will cause some of us lifetime scars. It steals from us - from some lives, others jobs, others businesses. It spares no race, no gender or social class," Mkhize said.

READ MORE | Covid-19 storm is approaching - Mkhize

As pressure mounts on Gauteng hospitals to cope with the current surge in Covid-19 cases, hospitals in both the public and private sector are offering counselling and other psychosocial support to healthcare workers.

The health department is using an external service provider to offer therapy to healthcare workers in need.

Private hospital groups Netcare, Mediclinic and Life Healthcare are also offering various forms of counselling to healthcare workers and, in some cases, finding ways to ease the workload of, particularly, nursing staff.

At a ceremony recognising Gauteng healthcare workers on Tuesday, Gauteng health MEC Bandile Masuku said the province had lost five healthcare workers to Covid-19.

READ MORE | Covid-19 in Gauteng: Support ramped up for healthcare workers as pressure mounts

President Cyril Ramaphosa says Covid-19 presents an opportunity for the world to deliver greater economic security, equal opportunity and social justice for those who work, those who've lost jobs and those seeking employment opportunities.

Ramaphosa, who is also the African Union chairperson, told the International Labour Organisation's (ILO) Global Summit on Covid-19 and the World of Work on Wednesday that the world was collectively tasked with rebuilding shattered lives and economies.

The ILO is hosting a five-day online gathering of workers, employers and governments to discuss the economic and social impact of the outbreak.

The novel coronavirus, which has infected millions across the globe, has wreaked havoc in economies, forcing many companies to shed jobs.

READ MORE | Covid-19 has sped up changes to the world of work, Ramaphosa tells global summit

Western Cape Premier Alan Winde is self-isolating at home for the next 14 days after confirming he tested positive for Covid-19 on Wednesday.

"I received a positive test result for Covid-19 this morning, and I am in self-isolation at home for 14 days," Winde said in a statement on Wednesday.

"On Sunday, I started to develop mild flu-like symptoms. As I am diabetic (type 2) and over 55 years of age, I know I am at a higher risk of developing a more serious illness. I therefore went to be tested to determine the cause of the symptoms on Monday."

Winde said he stayed at home as soon as he started feeling sick and was only experiencing mild symptoms.

READ MORE | Western Cape Premier Alan Winde tests positive for Covid-19

North West Premier Job Mokgoro has chosen to go into voluntary self-quarantine on Wednesday after testing positive for Covid-19.

According to his spokesperson, Vuyisile Ngesi, Mokgoro "is in good spirits", but has taken the decision to limit his staff's exposure to Covid-19 by going into quarantine at a hospital facility.

"The premier took a very responsible decision to go into voluntary quarantine for reasons of safety to himself and his support staff at his house – the state's official residence – including the helpers, the people who tend to the garden and the security, but also to minimise a whole lot of traffic that was starting to build up at the state official residence."

Ngesi said Mokgoro's self-quarantine had been arranged through the proper medical processes in the province, adding that the name of the hospital could not be revealed for safety reasons.

READ MORE | North West Premier Job Mokgoro checks into hospital for voluntary self-quarantine

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.

Earlier on Thursday morning, positive cases worldwide were more than 11.92 million, while deaths were more than 546 000.

The United States had the most cases in the world - more than 3.03 million, as well as the most deaths - more than 132 000.

READ MORE | All the confirmed cases worldwide

Latest news:

Jair Bolsonaro said that he is taking the contentious antimalarial drug hydroxychloroquine to treat his coronavirus infection.

The Brazilian president tested positive for what he calls the "little flu" on Monday after contracting a cough and fever over the weekend.

Hydroxychloroquine has been banned in France, dropped from the World Health Organisation's trial program, labelled dangerous by experts, and has not been approved by the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA).

In mid-March, the FDA briefly greenlit the drug for emergency use in severe coronavirus cases, but that waiver was withdrawn on June 15 following weeks of debate over its safety.

READ MORE | Brazil's president says he is taking hydroxychloroquine to cure his Covid-19

US President Donald Trump on Tuesday said he disagrees with the assessment of the country's top immunologist, Anthony Fauci, on the dire situation the United States faces as cases of the novel coronavirus continue to spread.

"The current state is really not good," the highly respected Fauci, head of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, said in a Facebook and Twitter livestream on Monday.

"We are still knee deep in the first wave of Covid-19 infections," he said.

Trump, speaking Tuesday in a TV interview, disagreed with Fauci, a key player on the White House's own Coronavirus Task Force.

"I think we are in a good place," the president said in an interview on the Full Court Press news show hosted by a former Fox News anchor, adding: "I disagree with him."

READ MORE | Trump: 'I disagree' with Fauci on Covid-19 in the US

LATEST RESEARCH

The first case of coronavirus in Italy was detected in the town of Vo. The Paduan town went into lockdown immediately for 14 days.

The findings of an in-depth study on Vo was recently published in Nature, where researchers wanted to asses transmission rates in the community, the risk factors of other underlying conditions and their treatment and whether a lockdown had any impact on the spread of the virus.

They took 2 812 swabs from subjects at the first interval, and less that two weeks later swabs from 2 343 participants.

At the beginning of lockdown they had an infection prevalence of 2.6% with 73 people testing positive, and at the end of lockdown it went down to 1.2% with only 29 positive cases. Only 4.9% of the total population became infected.

"Our analyses show that viral transmission could be effectively and rapidly suppressed by combining the early isolation of infected people with community lockdown," writes the researchers.

Fever and cough were the most prevalent symptoms, while all the children under 10 that were tested had no infection. The chances of infection for those over 50 years of age were three times higher than younger people.

READ MORE | What we learned from Italy's outbreak: About 40% of coronavirus cases in one town were asymptomatic

Addiction – or substance use disorder (SUD) – is a tough, exhausting fight even under normal circumstances.

But throw a pandemic into the mix, and accessing support becomes a lot harder. Isolation has become the new reality for the world as we try to curb the spread of Covid-19, but it can become a trigger for relapses or even new addictive habits.

"Addiction is a disease of disconnection as it isolates you from the people you love, and physical distancing contributed to addictions flourishing during lockdown," says Adrie Vermeulen, the national coordinator for the South African National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence (Sanca).

In South Africa, certain services shut down at the start of lockdown, and those still open took no new admissions. Even hospitals couldn't provide detox services to patients suffering from severe, potentially deadly withdrawal.

READ MORE | Fighting addiction in a pandemic: Is telemedicine the key?

How easily can the coronavirus infect the nervous system?

This is a question that could help us find better treatment - and prevent neurological damage that might incur in developing brains.

In Wuhan, 36% of Covid-19 patients showed signs of neurological symptoms, including viral inflammation of the brain. Researchers from Johns Hopkins University wanted to understand these symptoms better, and published their findings in ALTEX: Alternatives to Animal Experimentation.

The virus's most popular gateway - ACE2 receptors - are found in certain neurons in the human body, which could make it susceptible to direct infection. Other types of coronaviruses are known to have a neuropathological effect on humans, but until know this hasn't been officially proven with the SARS-CoV-2 strain yet.

READ MORE | Proof that the coronavirus can infect lab-grown brain cells might make its effects felt long-term

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