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Infectious Diseases

02 August 2020

Coronavirus morning update: SA breaches half a million Covid-19 cases, lockdown tax loss exceeds value of two virus loans, revised 2020 school calendar revealed

Your latest coronavirus news: Tax revenue loss due to lockdown exceeds two virus loans, ANC MP Zamuxolo Josephs dies, and 7 arrested after smuggling illicit liquor and cigarettes from Mozambique.

WHAT'S HAPPENING IN SA

Cases update: 

The latest number of confirmed cases is 503 290.

According to the latest update, 8 153 deaths have been recorded in the country.

There have been 342 461 recoveries.

So far, 3 million tests have been conducted, with 42 450 new tests.

READ MORE | All the confirmed cases of coronavirus in SA

Latest news:

South Africa lost more in tax revenue in the first three-and-half months of its fiscal year than it borrowed from the International Monetary Fund and the African Development Bank (AfDB) combined.

Lockdown rules and allowances to cushion businesses against their impact contributed to the drop in income. Relief measures included a deferral of payroll taxes and excise and fuel levies.

Meanwhile, the sale of tobacco products has been prohibited for four months and the government reinstated a similar ban on alcohol sales from July 13.

READ MORE | Lockdown tax loss exceeds value of two virus loans

The Department of Basic Education has released the revised calendar for the 2020 school year.

Last month, President Cyril Ramaphosa announced that public schools would close for four weeks from 27 July to 24 August.

On Friday, News24 revealed that the a document compiled during a Heads of Education Departments Committee (Hedcom) workshop proposed concluding the school year by 15 December.

The department has confirmed the school year for Grades R to 11 will be concluded on 15 December, while the Grade 12 examinations will also be completed by the same date.

It says teachers will return on 25 January for the 2021 school year, while pupils will go back to school "a few days later".

READ MORE | Here's when the school year will end: Education dept releases revised calendar dates

ANC MP Zamuxolo Joseph Peter has died after testing positive for Covid-19.

In a statement released by the ANC's Parliamentary Caucus on Saturday, the party said Peter had tested positive for the virus and was subsequently hospitalised on 11 July.

READ MORE | ANC MP Zamuxolo Peter died after testing positive for Covid-19

Alcohol played a role in 8.4% of violent crime between 1 April 2019 and 31 March 2020.

Police Minister Bheki Cele, who, in recent months, enthusiastically enforced and lobbied for the banning of alcohol, presented the crime statistics for the previous financial year to the Portfolio Committee on Police on Friday, after which he presented it to the media.

Combined, there were 372 174 murders, attempted murders, and assaults. In 31 322 of these cases, the perpetrators were confirmed to be under the influence of alcohol.

The declaration of a state of disaster, in response to the Covid-19 pandemic, empowered government to ban or limit the sale of alcohol, which was duly implemented.

While the initial ban was still in force, Cele said if it were up to him, alcohol would be banned permanently.

Crime stats: Alcohol involved in 8.4% of violent crime cases

Cogta Minister Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma has argued it is "absurd" for the DA to want to dictate to the National Assembly on how to conduct oversight on the executive during the lockdown.

In a 100-page court document, she said the National Assembly's oversight duties did not entitle it to overturn any decisions taken by the executive in the lawful exercise of its powers.  

READ MORE Dlamini-Zuma calls DA’s argument absurd in high court affidavit

Rangers at the Kruger National Park have arrested seven suspects and confiscated illicit goods, including cigarettes and liquor.

On Thursday, the rangers were on duty patrolling along the fence which separates South Africa and Mozambique.

Seven of the suspects were apprehended, while the others managed to flee.

The men were found in possession of illicit cigarettes, liquor as well as skin whitening creams wrapped in black plastic bags. The illicit goods were estimated to be worth about R 78 000.

READ MORE | Seven arrested for allegedly smuggling illicit cigarettes, liquor from Mozambique

Two sons of ANC secretary-general and former Free State premier Ace Magashule have been awarded government contracts for Covid-19 goods and services, according to a report.

The tenders have been awarded amid reports that the province's Finance MEC Gadija Brown is close to Ace Magashule.

READ MORE | Ace Magashule’s sons join list of ANC family members linked to Covid-19 government tenders

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 Saturday night, positive cases worldwide were 17 639 185, while deaths were 680 575.

The United States had the most cases in the world - 4 579 761, as well as the most deaths - 153 642.

READ MORE | All the confirmed cases worldwide

Latest news:

Egypt reported 321 new Covid-19 infections on Friday, the health ministry said, the lowest figure since 3 May.

In total, 94 078 Covid-19 cases have been reported in Egypt, of which 39 638 have recovered and 4 188 have died, including 31 on Friday, the ministry said in a statement late on Friday.

READ MORE | Egypt reports lowest coronavirus daily figures since 3 May

The World Health Organization on Saturday warned the coronavirus pandemic was likely to be "lengthy" after its emergency committee met to evaluate the crisis six months after sounding the international alarm.

The committee "highlighted the anticipated lengthy duration of this Covid-19 pandemic", the WHO said in a statement, and warned of the risk of "response fatigue" given the socio-economic pressures on countries.

The panel gathered Friday for the fourth time over the coronavirus crisis, half a year on from its January 30 declaration of a public health emergency of international concern (PHEIC) - the WHO's highest level of alarm.

Going into the meeting, WHO chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said the pandemic's effects would be long-lasting.

"It's sobering to think that six months ago, when you recommended I declare a PHEIC, there were less than 100 cases and no deaths outside China," he said Friday.

READ MORE | Expect 'lengthy' coronavirus pandemic WHO warns

LATEST RESEARCH

As experts learn more about Covid-19, the disease caused by SARS-CoV-2, it is now known that some comorbidities increase the risk of more severe disease.

One of these risk factors that makes patients more susceptible to severe Covid-19 is obesity – a body mass index higher than 25.

New research revealed that high leptin levels, which is often linked to obesity, could alter the way the body fights off infections, including Covid-19.

READ MORE | Why can Covid-19 be so dangerous where patients are obese?

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