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Only one Covid-19 fatality in SA: Health department clarifies death toll

Health Minister Zweli Mkhize.Earlier, the department said that two people had died: a 48-year-old woman and a 28-year-old woman.

However, health minister Dr Zweli Mkhize admitted that this was wrong, and sought to clarify the information that was initially provided.

He said that the 48-year-old woman had tested positive for Covid-19, but the 28-year-old was a “suspected case based on her clinical presentation”.

“The clinicians who were treating her have reported to us that this was a 28-year-old female who had presented at the hospital in respiratory distress. At the time of presentation she was hypoxic. She was intubated and transferred to hospital during the early hours of this morning [March 27 2020 at 3am). On arrival in ICU, she was declared dead.

“The clinical picture was suggestive of Covid-19 and, therefore, a test was conducted. Her laboratory results have since been received at 5.20pm and were confirmed negative. Her immediate family was also tested and they are also negative. She is therefore no longer considered a Covid-19 case.

“This therefore means there is only one confirmed death caused by Covid-19 in SA,” said Mkhize.

In the statement, Mkhize also confirmed that the country now had 1,170 confirmed cases of Covid-19 — an increase of 243 new cases from an announcement made on Thursday. So far, 28,537 tests have been conducted.

Of these cases, 55 patients are in hospital, four of whom are in ICU. Of those four, three are on ventilation.

Speaking about the 28-year-old woman’s case, Mkhize said: “I have been informed that the health workers that managed this patient have been debriefed and counselled. I am aware that the public interest around Covid-19 may end up making them feel like they did not perform their duties with utmost care.

“As a clinician myself, I want to reassure them that making such a diagnosis on presentation is line with our plea to them to keep a high index of suspicion so as not to miss a diagnosis of Covid-19. This is common practice; medical doctors often make a diagnosis based on a clinical presentation and physical examination of a patient. They then conduct further tests to confirm or disprove the diagnosis.

“In this instance, doctors and all health workers involved exercised clinical judgment and took extra precaution in managing this patient. We support this approach. I therefore want to acknowledge and appreciate all our doctors, nurses and all the health workers who were treating these patients. We salute them for their dedication in the service of the nation.”

KZN old age home resident, aged 81, tests positive for Covid-19

A resident in an old-age home in KwaZulu-Natal has tested positive for Covid-19.A resident in an old-age home in KwaZulu-Natal has tested positive for Covid-19.
Residents of a KwaZulu-Natal old age home are being tested for Covid-19 after an 81-year-old tested positive.

In a statement, health minister Zweli Mkhize confirmed that the octogenarian was in the intensive care unit and on a ventilator.

He highlighted her case as an illustration of how the country’s elderly were vulnerable to Covid-19, the respiratory illness caused by the novel coronavirus.

“The elderly population in our society is vulnerable. To illustrate this, in KwaZulu-Natal, one of the confirmed cases is an 81-year-old female who is now in ICU and on a ventilator. She initially presented with pneumonia and was admitted and treated as such. Because of the severity of the pneumonia, she was tested for Covid-19 and was confirmed.

“This elderly woman lives in an old age home. As a result, all other elderly people from this old age home are regarded as being vulnerable and are being tested. Those who will test positive will then be put in isolation,” he said.

Other vulnerable groups, said Mkhize, were those with underlying concomitant diseases, particularly those with HIV (especially those with a low CD4 count), chronic lung diseases (including TB, asthma and COPD), auto immune diseases of any kind, chronic kidney diseases, cancer or diabetes.

Smokers and “dependent alcohol consumers” were also at high risk.

“We encourage smokers to quit smoking and for those who drink alcohol, to do so moderately,” said Mkhize.

Moody’s downgrades SA to junk

Picture: REUTERSMoody’s Investors Service on Friday night downgraded SA to junk status.

The move was expected in the face of SA’s poor GDP growth performance and fragile fiscal position, even before the onset of the pandemic.

Moody’s dropped SA’s rating to Ba1, with the outlook remaining negative, bringing it in line with the subinvestment grade ratings from peer agencies, Fitch and S&P Global.View image on Twitter

We answer seven of SA’s most-Googled questions about Covid-19

Wondering what Covid-19 stands for? It's Corona Virus Disease 2019.Wondering what Covid-19 stands for? It’s Corona Virus Disease 2019.
Image: 123RF/onepencils
Given the havoc the coronavirus pandemic has wreaked globally and the situation we find ourselves in at home, Covid-19 is on the tip of everyone’s tongue — and their Google search bars.

According to trends data from the global search engine, the question Mzansi has been asking the most frequently over the past seven days is: “How many cases of coronavirus/Covid-19 are there in South Africa?”

As this figure has sadly been rising daily, it’s best to keep googling that one, but we can answer some of your other most-searched questions about the virus:

  1. What is coronavirus?
    Coronaviruses are a large family of viruses that may affect humans or animals.

According to the World Health Organisation, several coronaviruses are known to cause respiratory infections in humans. This includes the common cold and more severe diseases such as severe acute respiratory syndrome (Sars) which broke out in 2002 and Middle East respiratory syndrome (Mers) which broke out in 2012.

  1. Why is it called Covid-19?/What does Covid-19 stand for?
    The most recently discovered coronavirus which the world is currently battling causes Covid-19, a disease named by the WHO. It stands for Corona Virus Disease South Africa, the specific source of the virus is not yet known. However, the majority of Covid-19 patients initially identified were dealers and vendors at a seafood, poultry and live wildlife market in the Jianghan district of China’s Hubei province.

“This suggests that the novel coronavirus has a possible zoonotic origin,” says the NICD website, meaning it is a disease that normally exists in animals but can be transmitted from animals to humans.

The pandemic was first reported to the WHO office in China on December 31 2019.

  1. What are the symptoms of coronavirus?
    The WHO lists the most common symptoms of Covid-19 as being fever, tiredness and a dry cough. “Some patients may have aches and pains, nasal congestion, runny nose, sore throat or diarrhea. These symptoms are usually mild and begin gradually,” according to their website.

That said, some people may be infected without developing any symptoms which is why social distancing and self-isolation are important, even if you’re not feeling ill.

  1. How to prevent coronavirus?
    There is no vaccine or anti-viral agent available to guard against contracting the disease which means the best way to avoid being infected is to practise basic hygiene.

The WHO suggests taking a few simple precautions such as regularly washing your hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds or using an alcohol-based hand sanitiser. Avoid touching your mouth, nose and eyes.

You also need to practise good respiratory hygiene, meaning you should cover your mouth and nose with a tissue or bent elbow when coughing or sneezing.

It is advisable to maintain a distance of at least a metre between yourself and other people, especially if they are exhibiting signs of infection.

Most importantly, you need to respect the government’s lockdown.

  1. How long does Covid-19 live on surfaces?
    The WHO says it is uncertain how long the virus that causes Covid-19 can survive on surfaces, but so far it seems to behave like other coronaviruses.

“Studies suggest that coronaviruses (including preliminary information on the Covid-19 virus) may persist on surfaces for between a few hours and several days. This may vary under different conditions (type of surface, temperature and humidity).”

For this reason, it is advisable to clean surfaces regularly and to wash your hands frequently.

  1. When will coronavirus end?
    It is unclear when this latest coronavirus will be snuffed out. After the mayhem that ensued in China after the initial outbreak, the country is finally reporting very few new domestic Covid-19 cases, meaning there is hope of recovering from the pandemic.

At the moment it seems countries will have to ride out the infection and in the process try to “flatten the curve” [of new infections] using measures such as lockdown. That said, as long as the virus persists somewhere, there is always the possibility that a single traveller may cause a new outbreak elsewhere.

Avoid fake news: you can now Some countries have placed their hope in people building up “herd immunity” whereby many build up a natural immunity to the virus and protect those who have not, but this will take a while and at this stage the cost of human life is still too great. Professor Neil Ferguson of the Imperial College London told the BBC that such herd immunity could take years to build up.

What we will ideally need is a vaccine, which is something scientists around the globe are working on relentlessly. However, the BBC reports a vaccine could still be 12-18 months away — if everything goes smoothly.

Good Samaritan pays for gogo’s groceries as panic buyers turn nasty

Blythe Kruger, 89, and her granddaughter, Angel Campey, after a kind shopper paid for Kruger's groceries while panic buyers behind her in the queue yelled at her to hurry up.Blythe Kruger, 89, and her granddaughter, Angel Campey, after a kind shopper paid for Kruger’s groceries while panic buyers behind her in the queue yelled at her to hurry up.
Image: Supplied
When 89-year-old Blythe Kruger went to do her pre-lockdown shopping, she did not expect her card would not have enough points – or that someone would stand up for her.

Kruger and her caregiver, Nontsikelelo Mduba, went to town while Kruger was under the impression her eBucks rewards stood at R500, when in fact they were only the equivalent of R50.Her granddaughter, Angel Campey, a Cape Town-based stand-up comedian, relayed the story.

“It looked like a lot of money. Enough for bread and supplies for the week,” Campey quoted her grandmother as saying.

Things became awkward at the till.

When Kruger tried to pay for her items, she was told she did not have enough money.

Panic buyers behind her started becoming impatient, embarrassing the wheelchair-bound elderly woman.

“Panic buyers are monsters. They started yelling at her and telling her to hurry up while she got embarrassed,” Campey said.
o pay.”

“We didn’t even know her,” said Mduba.

The old woman protested between her sobbing, but eventually surrendered.

The good Samaritan’s name is Thenda from Bredasdorp.

“When I called my grandma this morning she was in high spirits and said she just got off a call with my new cousin, so she has pretty much become a new part of our family.

“I have a new cousin and my nanna has food,” Campey said.