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Infectious Diseases

04 May 2020

Coronavirus morning update: Western Cape now has more than 3 000 cases, as testing ramped up

Your latest coronavirus news: More than 15 000 new tests were conducted - nearly 12 000 in public laboratories, as cases in the country rose to 6 783. The Western Cape has by far the most cases, with 3 044.

WHAT'S HAPPENING IN SA

Cases update: 

The latest number of confirmed cases is 6 783.

According to the latest update, 131 deaths have been recorded in the country.

So far, 245 747 tests have been conducted, with 15 061 new tests - with testing ramped up considerably in the last while.

Nearly 12 000 of the new tests were conducted in public laboratories.

READ MORE | All the confirmed cases of coronavirus in SA

Latest news:

Several issues preventing foreign nationals, who are documented and are legally employed in South Africa, from receiving Covid-19 benefits are being addressed and some of these employees will be paid this week, according to the department of employment and labour.

During a briefing by the Minister of Employment and Labour Thulas Nxesi on Sunday on workplace readiness as the country moves from level five to level four of its Covid-19 response, it was announced that a further R2.4 billion in benefits from the Temporary Employer / Employee Relief Scheme (TERS) has been cleared for payment on Monday. A total of 29 000 employees are set to benefit, they include South Africans and foreign nationals, Deputy Minister Boitumelo Moloi said.

Moloi noted that there had been delays initially in the disbursements but there has since been progress. The bulk disbursements of Covid-19 TERS amounts to R5.3 billion and has reached 98 employers and 1.1 million workers.

When asked about whether foreign nationals, who are in the country legally and are legally employed, would be paid Unemployment Insurance Fund (UIF) similar to their South African counterparts, Nxesi noted that there had been issues with disbursements, either related to bank accounts or with South Africa Revenue Service (SARS), but which have since been sorted. But Nxesi stressed that illegal foreigners, who are not documented cannot be paid. "Those who are illegal, who are not documented, it is clear we cannot do something illegal ourselves." He called for employers to comply with the law.

READ MORE | State to pay further R2.4bn in coronavirus benefits for 29 000 employees

The National Treasury expects job losses, tax losses and a contracting economy due to the coronavirus pandemic and the lockdown to halt its spread.

The finance minister will only present an adjustment budget, which accounts for the impact of the pandemic and economic relief measures, in June or July, according to Treasury and tax officials who briefed lawmakers on the potential impact of the virus on Thursday.

South Africa’s economy could contract by as much as 16.1% this year, depending on how long it takes to contain the coronavirus pandemic and for the economy to recover to the end of 2020, Treasury estimates showed.

"We have to move quickly to get the economy back to normal, but also take into account that we have to contain the impact of the virus," Dondo Mogajane, the National Treasury’s director-general, said.

READ MORE | Government assesses coronavirus damage to economy

An hour of shopping dedicated to pensioners will be moved this week to accommodate Sassa payouts, retailer Pick n Pay has announced.

The pensioners' shopping hour – a dedicated time for elderly customers to have exclusive use of the store to shop for their groceries and essentials – will move from Wednesdays, and will now take place on Mondays and Tuesdays.

Stores will open an hour earlier - between 07:00 and 08:00 - exclusively for customers over the age of 65 years, and for pension and Sassa disabled grant beneficiaries, before opening to all customers at 08:00.

From Wednesday to Friday, all stores will open early at 07:00 to help accommodate Sassa social grants.

The weekly pensioners' shopping hour will resume on Wednesdays from 13 May. 

READ MORE | Pick n Pay extends shopping times for pensioners and Sassa grant beneficiaries

The first of three SAA flights to repatriate South Africans from the US has landed on home soil.

The flight, which landed on Sunday evening, was carrying 275 South African citizens, Department of International Relations and Cooperation spokesperson Clayson Monyela said.

The remaining two flights would arrive on 5 May and 9 May, carrying 275 passengers each. These follow several flights from Miami, the last of which arrived on Friday and was carrying 256 South Africans.

Once the last SAA flight lands on 9 May, all South Afircans who requested repatriation from the US would be home, Monyela said. All of them would undergo a 14-day quarantine period at a government-selected quarantine site, he added.

READ MORE | 275 South Africans repatriated from US, hundreds more to arrive this week

More than 2700 people were screened during roadblocks on the N14 in Ventersdorp, Brandvlei and the N1 North freeway, on Sunday.

The roadblock was held to monitor commuters returning to Gauteng. Law enforcement officers and health officials were joined at the roadblock by Gauteng Education MEC Panyaza Lesufi.

Of those screened for Covid-19, five were taken in for testing, Lesufi's office said.

Two people were arrested for the possession of alcohol, while nine motorists were fined for various traffic infringements.

READ MORE | Coronavirus: Hundreds screened for Covid-19 at Gauteng roadblocks

Three more police station buildings have been closed for a Covid-19 decontamination, this time in the Western Cape. 

Provincial police spokesperson Brigadier Novela Potelwa said the Bredasdorp and Struisbaai police stations had started decontamination protocols on May 1. 

"Struisbaai is now operating from the municipal building while Bredasdorp will utilise the Thusong Centre," Potelwa said on Sunday. 

"Members from the two stations who came in contact with the infected case/s will undergo the necessary screening and/or testing." 

READ MORE | Coronavirus: Three Western Cape police stations closed for Covid-19 decontamination

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 Sunday night, positive cases worldwide were just short of 3.5 million, while deaths were almost 247 000.

The United States had the most cases in the world - more than 1.15 million, as well as the most deaths - more than 67 000.

READ MORE | All the confirmed cases worldwide

Latest news:

Russia reported a record number of new coronavirus cases for the fourth consecutive day Sunday, as the virus rapidly spreads in the country, which is fast becoming one of the global epicenters of Covid-19.

There were 10 633 new cases of Covid-19 confirmed on Sunday, Russian President Vladimir Putin said, some 1,000 more than were reported on Saturday, according to Worldometers data.

A total of 134 687 people are now confirmed to have had coronavirus in Russia, making it the seventh most-infected country on the planet, with significantly more infections than early hotspots for the virus, such as China and Iran. More than half of all cases in Russia have been reported in the capital, Moscow.

Of those 134 687 people, 1 280 have died.

READ MORE | Russia is fast becoming a coronavirus hotspot - it just reported 10 000 new cases in a day

When Dr. Anar Yukhayev's patient told him she'd developed a fever after a recent trip to Italy, he ran out of the room and grabbed a mask for each of them.

By that point, the 31-year-old obstetrician-gynecologist had been face-to-face with her for 20 minutes.

It was the first week of March, when reports of the novel coronavirus were starting to emerge in the New York City area. Westchester county, north of the city, was already seeing a cluster of cases.

Yukhayev works at Katz Women's Hospital at Long Island Jewish Medical Center on the border of Queens and Suffolk County in New York.

The following week, he started to feel off, with back and muscle aches. Then, he spiked a fever.

He got tested on March 13, two days after the World Health Organisation declared the novel coronavirus a pandemic. The state by that point had hundreds of confirmed cases. By the following week, he was so sick that his colleagues were thinking about putting him on a ventilator.

Yukhayev's experience of getting severely ill is common in hospitals overwhelmed with Covid-19 patients. Patients between 30 and 59 made up roughly a third of hospital admissions evaluated by Northwell Health, the health system Yukhayev's a part of, according to an article in the Journal of the American Medical Association.

The shock of finding otherwise healthy people in their 30s, 40s, and 50s, in the hospital severely ill with Covid-19 has been a common refrain in Business Insider's conversations with doctors on the front lines. Other viral outbreaks, especially the flu, tend to hit the youngest and oldest Americans the hardest.

READ MORE | Younger adults are getting seriously sick and ending up in the hospital because of the coronavirus

A 104-year-old woman in New York is recovering from Covid-19, and her nursing home is calling it a "miracle."

Ida Acconciamessa, who lives at the Sheepshead Nursing and Rehabilitation Center in Brooklyn, tested positive for Covid-19 on April 4. She was given oxygen, was very weak, and wasn't eating, according to CBS News. And now, nearly a month later, she's talking, eating, and recovering from the virus.

Her daughter, Barbara Senese, said her mother isn't a stranger to health hardships. She said Acconciamessa lived through the Spanish flu, has had two broken hips, survived stage 4 melanoma, and now, Covid-19.

"She always used to say, 'I was born under a lucky star.' That was her mantra in life. And you know what? To be able to get through this virus, those words often come to my mind," Senese told CBS News.

READ MORE | US woman, 104, who lived through the Spanish flu and had cancer, just recovered from Covid-19

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