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Infectious Diseases

26 July 2020

Coronavirus morning update: Western Cape hunger crisis growing, and WHO warns on Europe

Hunger crisis growing according to a Western Cape report; and the World Health Organisation expressed concern over a coronavirus resurgence in Europe.

WHAT'S HAPPENING IN SA

Cases update: 

The latest number of confirmed cases is 434 200.

According to the latest update, 6 655 of deaths have been recorded in the country.

There have been 263 054 recoveries.

So far, 2 730 812 have been conducted, with 46 324 new tests.

READ MORE | All the confirmed cases of coronavirus in SA

Latest news:

A top-level report given to the Western Cape government paints a dire picture of the impact of the lockdown on hunger and community kitchens, most of whom have seen rising food requests and dwindling resources.

The EDP report makes eight hard-hitting recommendations, which has since been tabled before the Western Cape cabinet by the social development department.

Together, they form a comprehensive plea for urgent government support for NGOs.

Only a massive effort - largely by civil society - has prevented food shortages from deteriorating so far, according to the report.

READ MORE | 'Hunger crisis is growing, emergency food aid is dwindling'- new Western Cape report

The Asset Forfeiture Unit has frozen the bank accounts of a man suspected of defrauding the Unemployment Insurance Fund (UIF) of almost R700 000.

The Gauteng High Court in Pretoria has ordered that a number of bank accounts linked to Thokozani Mchunu be frozen following suspicions that he fraudulently received funds from the UIF, spokesperson for the National Prosecuting Authority Sipho Ngwema said. 

Portions of the money was transferred into other bank accounts, various stokvel accounts and numerous bank accounts of other people in an attempt to disguise the origin of the funds.

The matter was reported to the police, who were investigating allegations of fraud, theft and money laundering.

READ MORE | Accounts frozen after UIF Covid-19 relief fund was allegedly defrauded of R700 000

Statistics released by the Gauteng government has revealed that people between the ages of 50 and 79 contributed to 65.7% of Covid-19 deaths in the province.

"We do have discharges and people do leave our hospitals alive, even those in the highest risk group," Health MEC Dr Bandile Masuku said on Friday.

"The bulk of all of our patients that have passed on have comorbidities. This is the aspects that we have to look at in terms of our lifestyle going forward," he said.

Masuku presented the provincial government's weekly update on its response to Covid-19 in Gauteng.

READ MORE | People do leave our hospitals alive, says Masuku about Covid-19 deaths in Gauteng

Minister of Trade, Industry and Competition Ebrahim Patel is the latest member of the executive to test positive for the deadly Covid-19.

Patel received his results on Saturday.

It was his second test since the outbreak of the virus.

"Minister Patel is in good spirits and is in self-quarantine, and will continue to work from home. Those that have been in contact with the minister are also in self-isolation and have been encouraged to get tested."

READ MORE | Minister Patel tests positive for Covid-19

WHAT'S HAPPENING IN THE REST OF THE WORLD 

For the latest global data, follow this interactive map from Johns Hopkins University & Medicine.

Late on Saturday night, positive cases worldwide were more than 15.88 million, while deaths were more than 641 000.

The United States had the most cases in the world - more than 4.15 million, as well as the most deaths - more than 146 000.

READ MORE | All the confirmed cases worldwide

Latest news:

The World Health Organisation expressed concern over a coronavirus resurgence in Europe as Britain joined France, Germany and Austria in announcing tighter mask rules and greater testing.

Europe accounts for a fifth of the world's more than 15 million infections and remains the hardest-hit region in terms of deaths, with 207 118 out of more than 630 000 globally since the virus emerged in China late last year.

The WHO's European chapter pointed to rising cases on the continent over the past two weeks, saying tighter measures may be needed to curb the spread.

Europe like other regions is struggling to balance restrictions to halt Covid-19 against the need to revive economies as people there emerge from some of the world's toughest lockdowns.

A three-year-old girl died in Belgium, becoming the country's youngest known coronavirus victim, in a further wake-up call for a continent that has recently lifted shutdowns.

"The recent resurgence in Covid-19 cases in some countries following the easing of physical distancing measures is certainly cause for concern," a WHO-Europe spokesperson told AFP.

"If the situation demands, reintroduction of stricter, targeted measures with the full engagement of communities may be needed."

READ MORE | Tighter mask rules, more tests as WHO warns of Europe virus spike

LATEST RESEARCH

Scientists have found a new way of modelling the Covid-19 spread via airborne and contact respiratory droplets.

Generally acknowledged as the main means of transmission for the coronavirus, respiratory droplets spread via talking, sneezing, coughing and singing. They contain small bits of proteins and pathogens that can be passed on to others if they inhale the droplets or touch infected surfaces.

A human can exhale droplets between 1 to 2 000 micrometres, which is why it's so important to know what the evaporation rate of the droplets is.

This model highlights why it's so important to wear a mask, especially in colder and more humid countries, and could also be used to predict – to some degree – how an infection might spread under very specific conditions.

READ MORE | Covid-19 infected droplets spread further in cold, humid climates

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