Coronavirus morning recap: Latest on Covid in kids, masks, and warning from the WHO

LATEST SCIENCE AND RESEARCH

READ| Coronavirus: Symptomatic children carry more virus than those without symptoms, study suggests

Children who test positive for the new coronavirus, but are asymptomatic (don't display symptoms) have significantly lower levels of the virus compared to those who experience symptoms.

This was according to a new study based on an analysis of 817 children from nine hospitals in the US and Canada who tested positive for SARS-CoV-2.

The findings were published in the Journal of Clinical Microbiology.

Although the study was the first large and comprehensive analysis of SARS-CoV-2 viral loads in asymptomatic children, the authors cautioned that the reason behind their finding was still unclear and required further research.

"While these findings provide some reassurance about the safety of asymptomatically infected children attending school, these unanswered questions suggest that risk mitigation measures in daycares, schools and the community remain critical to reduce the spread of Covid-19," said lead author and epidemiologist, Larry Kociolek of the Northwestern University in Illinois.

The study included 339 asymptomatic and 478 symptomatic children (ages 0–17 years). All children in the study tested positive for the virus through polymerase chain reaction (PCR) tests.

READ | More evidence masks slow Covid spread

Here's more proof that masking up reduces transmission of Covid-19: A new Massachusetts study found that wearing face coverings resulted in a decrease in coronavirus cases among healthcare workers as infections were increasing in the surrounding community.

"We found clear benefits to universal masking for preventing infectious spread within the work environment," researcher Dr Stefanos Kales said.

He's division chief of occupational and environmental medicine at the Cambridge Health Alliance (a Harvard-affiliated community health system) and a professor at Harvard Medical School.

For the study, the researchers compared the rate of Covid-19 cases between the Cambridge Health Alliance (CHA) and Massachusetts residents from 17 March to 6 May. The CHA started requiring masks on 26 March.

The universal masking was done during a time of rising infections in both the healthcare system and the community. After the policy was instituted, infections among healthcare workers sharply decreased, while community infections continued to rise until their peak on April 20.

Before the mask mandate, infection rates increased almost identically in the healthcare system and the state's population, the study found.

CORONAVIRUS CASES LATEST

SA cases update: 

The latest number of confirmed cases is 719 714.

According to the latest update, 58 deaths have been recorded in the country.

There have been 648 654 recoveries.

So far, 4 752 596 tests have been conducted, with 25 721 new tests reported.

Global cases update:

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

Early on Thursday morning, positive cases worldwide were more than 44.3 million, while deaths were close to 1.172 million.

The United States had the most cases in the world - more than 8.8 million, as well as the most deaths - close to 228 000.

WHAT'S HAPPENING IN SA

Latest news:

READ | Ramaphosa announces establishment of 4 new courts to deal with Covid-19 corruption

Four new Special Commercial Crimes Courts will be established to deal with cases of Covid-19-related corruption, President Cyril Ramaphosa announced in the National Council of Provinces (NCOP) on Tuesday.

In response to a question from ANC MP Maurencia Gillion, Ramaphosa said the government had "responded swiftly and decisively to allegations of corruption in the awarding of Covid-19-related contracts".

He added the Special Investigating Unit (SIU) was currently looking into 932 cases under the proclamation issued in July and all were at different stages of investigation.

"The SIU has, to date, provided me with two interim reports which outline the progress in the investigations, including where investigations have been inalised."

Ramaphosa said the SA Revenue Service (Sars) had established a Covid-19 project team to investigate and audit cases.

At the end of September, there were 307 cases with an estimated tax revenue loss of R300 million and 139 companies were referred for potential tax evasion investigations.

READ | Cape Town doctor tests positive for Covid-19 twice: 'We are not safe from the claws of SARS-CoV-2'

"We are not safe from the claws of SARS-CoV-2," said Dr Davinia Masimila who tested positive twice - once in June and a second time, after she recovered, in September.

However, whether she had a true reinfection had not been confirmed, even though she had a positive test result and was experiencing Covid-19 symptoms.

Masimila told News24 she was admitted to hospital for Covid-19 treatment in June after she had severe chest pains and shortness of breath. She recovered, but in September, she started showing symptoms again.

"More than three months after my initial infection, I experienced this unusual tiredness and severe headaches. I then had a scratchy feeling in my throat and later became dizzy and developed diarrhoea."

She double-checked if the symptoms she experienced the second time around could be Covid-19 related.

"I also contacted an infectious diseases colleague regarding my symptoms and whether it warranted a second swab. My colleague suggested a retest for SARS-CoV-2 as I had symptoms suggestive of Covid-19 and more than 90 days had lapsed since my initial infection, but we were also aware that other common viral infections should also be considered."

WHAT'S HAPPENING IN THE REST OF THE WORLD 

Latest news:

READ | The WHO warns getting Covid-19 under control may require tougher lockdowns, 'sacrifice for many people'

The World Health Organisation (WHO) warned Monday that the world was "well behind" where it should be on Covid-19, and that getting the crisis under control "may require sacrifice for many, many people".

"We're well behind this virus," Dr. Mike Ryan, executive director of the WHO's health emergencies program, said at a press conference in Geneva. "We will have to get ahead of this virus, and [that] may require sacrifice for many, many people in terms of their personal lives," he added.

His warning came as Covid-19 cases surged, particularly in the US and Europe.

WHO officials said some countries may have to consider closing down non-essential businesses again to stem the tide.

"It may require shutting down and restricting movement and having stay-at-home orders in order to take the heat out of this phase of the pandemic," Ryan said.

The WHO also criticized some nations for not doing enough to reduce the spread of the virus during the first wave of the pandemic.

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

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