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Infectious Diseases

05 June 2020

Coronavirus morning update: What experts say about lockdown ruling - which govt is appealing

Your latest coronavirus news: The High Court lockdown regulations judgment creates more confusion than clarity, say experts - and Cabinet says it will appeal the ruling.

WHAT'S HAPPENING IN SA

Cases update: 

The latest number of confirmed cases is 40 792, after 3 267 new cases were identified.

According to the latest update, 848 deaths have been recorded in the country.

There have been 21 311 recoveries.

So far, 820 675 tests have been conducted, with 34 696 new tests.

READ MORE | All the confirmed cases of coronavirus in SA

Latest news:

The High Court judgment that declared levels 3 and 4 of the lockdown unconstitutional and invalid has been described by some experts as flawed, with one saying if it goes on appeal, it will most likely be overturned.

This comes as the government on Thursday indicated it intends to appeal the court's ruling.

The judgment was delivered on Tuesday following an application brought by the Liberty Fighters Network (LFN) and Hola Bona Renaissance Foundation.

In his ruling, Judge Norman Davis found little or no regard was given to the extent of the impact of individual regulations on the constitutional rights of people and whether the extent of the limitation of their rights was justifiable or not.

READ MORE | Lockdown regulations ruling: 'Flawed' judgment creates more confusion than clarity, say experts

Cabinet on Thursday announced it would appeal the high court judgment, which declared various regulations governing Level 3 and 4 of the nationwide lockdown as unconstitutional and invalid.

President Cyril Ramaphosa held a special Cabinet meeting on Thursday to discuss the high court judgment.

Minister in the Presidency Jackson Mthembu said the decision was taken after advice from legal experts.

Mthembu said Cabinet would appeal through the Gauteng High Court in Pretoria before going to the Supreme Court of Appeal.

READ MORE | Cabinet to appeal judgment declaring lockdown regulations for levels 3 and 4 invalid, confident of another outcome

Although the country is still on lockdown, the Gauteng High Court in Pretoria has declared various regulations governing Alert Level 3 and 4 as unconstitutional and invalid.

Judge Norman Davis found that little or no regard was given to the extent of the impact of individual regulations on the constitutional rights of people and whether the extent of limitation of their rights was justifiable or not.

The judgment was handed down on Tuesday following the urgent application brought by the Liberty Fighters Network (LFN) and the Hola Bon Renaissance Foundation.

Davis ordered Minister of Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma to formulate changes to the regulations within 14 days.

READ MORE | Here is what the High Court said about the various lockdown regulations

While Health Minister Zweli Mkhize has raised concerns about the rapid increase of Covid-19 cases in the Eastern Cape, its largest casualty unit with a dedicated isolation site, Livingstone Hospital, is struggling.

The provincial health department confirmed the unit had been hit by a shortage of sterile gloves, gowns and employees, including doctors, nurses and porters, while its Accident and Emergency Unit had not been cleaned for days.

On Thursday, department spokesperson Sizwe Kupelo told News24 the unit had not been cleaned and it had no sterile gloves and gowns as of Wednesday afternoon.

However, Kupelo denied reports the casualty unit was shut down on Wednesday after doctors complained about its filthy state.

READ MORE | EC hospital beset by issues as Mkhize raises concerns about spike in Covid-19 cases

It will cost the Western Cape government R16 000 per bed for state patients to be treated at a private hospital if government hospitals no longer have space for Covid-19 patients.

This after Health Minister Zweli Mkhize hinted on Tuesday a deal was imminent, and South Africans who cannot afford private healthcare will benefit as the government foots the bill.

Western Cape head of health Dr Keith Cloete said during a digital press conference on Thursday: "I can confirm that the rate that was agreed to for the ICU high care was R16 000."

The province will also open its field hospital at the Cape Town International Convention Centre on Friday instead of next week, to be ready for the first expected patients on Monday as the number of cases spike in the province.

READ MORE | Covid-19: Western Cape govt to pay private hospitals R16 000 per bed if it runs out of space

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.

Early on Friday morning, positive cases worldwide were just short of 6.59 million, while deaths were were more than 388 000.

The United States had the most cases in the world - close to 1.87 million, as well as the most deaths - almost 108 000.

READ MORE | All the confirmed cases worldwide

Latest news:

Brazil is easing restrictions despite logging record numbers of daily coronavirus fatalities, with President Jair Bolsonaro saying death is "everyone's destiny."

On Wednesday, Brazil recorded the highest number of deaths from the coronavirus in a single day. The 1 349 new fatalities beat the previous record of 1 262 deaths, which was set the day before, according to data from the country's health ministry.

The country's total number of confirmed Covid-19 cases also surpassed 500 000 this week. Only the US has more.

Striking images published late last month showed row upon row of mass graves, laying bare the state of the country's crisis.

READ MORE | Brazil eases lockdown despite record deaths, its president says death is 'everyone's destiny'

LATEST RESEARCH

The first comprehensive review of all available evidence for Covid-19 protective measures has been published in The Lancet.

The review takes a look at all published literature to inform the World Health Organization on the most effective safety measures.

All the studies reviewed looked at optimum use of protective measures in both community and healthcare settings, including physical distancing, eye protection and the wearing of face coverings such as masks, according to a news release.

The aim of this comprehensive release is to help establish definitive guidelines on protective measures, according to the statement.

Professor Holger Schünemann from McMaster University in Canada co-led this study and stated that it was the first to synthesise all direct information on Covid-19, SARS and MERS and provide the best available evidence in a response to the pandemic.

"Governments and the public health community can use our results to give clear advice for community settings and healthcare workers on these protective measures to reduce infection risk," he stated in a news release.

READ MORE | Covid-19: Distancing, masks - what a comprehensive review says about their effectiveness

Lost sense of smell (anosmia) and diminished sense of taste (dysgeusia) have surfaced in recent weeks as peculiar symptoms of Covid-19 (the diseases caused by SARS-CoV-2) infection. And a recent case report of a 25-year-old radiographer who underwent magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) illustrates how this may happen.

The report, published in the journal JAMA Neurology, explains that the female patient had no significant medical history, and that she had initially presented with a mild dry cough that lasted for a day. This was then followed by persistent severe anosmia. However, the patient did not have a fever.

The patient then had a brain MRI performed three days later. The authors looked at 3D and 2D fluid-attenuated inversion recovery images, which showed that a cortical hyperintensity was evident in the right gyrus rectus – a portion of the brain, usually vulnerable to traumatic injury, that is located at the very middle of the frontal lobe of the brain.

They also found the presence of a subtle hyperintensity in the olfactory bulbs – an essential structure in the olfactory system which is devoted to the sense of smell.

READ MORE | SEE: Brain scan of 25-year-old Covid-19 patient who suffered mild symptoms

A new analysis of the Covid-19 outbreak in 58 cities shows that places that took longer to start implementing measures of physical distancing allowed more time for the virus to spread rapidly, leading to a longer outbreak than in those areas who started measures earlier, according to a news release.

The study by a team of epidemiological researchers at the University of Texas in Austin is now in press at the CDC’s journal Emerging Infectious Diseases.

In the new research, the team studied cities throughout China when the first cases emerged, when physical distancing measures were implemented and when the outbreak was under control.

The research suggested that for every day delayed after the first case emerged, a period of 2.4 days could be added to the length of the outbreak.

"Every day saves time, saves effort, saves people becoming infected and probably saves lives," stated Lauren Ancel Meyers, a professor of integrative biology in the press release. “This is particularly important as we think about the coming weeks and months."

READ MORE | Covid-19: For every day delay in distancing, the length of the outbreak is significantly longer

If a child is infected with the new coronavirus, being obese appears to greatly raise the odds for developing a severe form of Covid-19, a new study finds.

The report was based on 50 cases of paediatric Covid-19 severe enough to require admission to a New York City hospital.

Eleven (22%) of the 50 kids were obese, and six of the nine children who required a ventilator were obese, the study found.

Obesity has long been noted as a risk factor for adults with Covid-19, "so it was interesting that many of the hospitalised patients in this study had obesity and/or overweight," said researchers led by Dr Philip Zachariah, a paediatrician at Columbia University Irving Medical Center in New York City. They published their findings on 3 June in the journal JAMA Pediatrics.

READ MORE | Similar to adults, obesity raises kids' odds for severe 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.

Image credit: Getty Images