Coronavirus morning update: All the new rules for Level 2, and president urges caution

WHAT'S HAPPENING IN SA

Cases update: 

The latest number of confirmed cases is 589 886.

According to the latest update, 11 982 deaths have been recorded in the country.

There have been 477 671 recoveries.

So far, a total of more than 3.41 million tests have been conducted, with 15 032 new tests reported.

READ MORE | All the confirmed cases of coronavirus in SA

Latest news:

While you won't be able to buy alcohol from a bottle store over the weekend, you may order drinks in a restaurant and a bar until 22:00 on weekends.

This is according to the new regulations for lockdown level 2, which was gazetted on Monday.

Under level 2, all companies can now do business in South Africa - apart from nightclubs, and international passenger ships, which remain prohibited.

The sale of liquor by a licensed premises for off-consumption is permitted from 09:00 to 17:00, from Mondays to Thursdays.

That means liquor stores are closed on Fridays, weekends, and public holidays. But you can buy alcohol at a licensed premises for on-site consumption over the weekend until the curfew of 22:00, so you can drink at a restaurant or bar over the weekend.

READ MORE | All the new rules for Level 2, including how many people can come over for a braai

As South Africa moves from Level 3 to Level 2 of the national lockdown from midnight on Monday, President Cyril Ramaphosa has urged citizens to remain vigilant, saying there is always a chance of resurgence of the coronavirus.

In his weekly newsletter to the nation, he said: "We are still very much in the middle of a deadly pandemic that has taken over 11 000 lives in South Africa alone."

Ramaphosa said, with more than half a million confirmed cases, the country still had the fifth highest number of infections in the world.

"If we ever need a stark reminder of the need for vigilance, we should look to recent events thousands of kilometres away in New Zealand.

"Three months since the country was declared coronavirus-free, New Zealand is once again under lockdown. Although the latest outbreak was of relatively few cases, the government swiftly re-imposed lockdown restrictions," he said.

He said similar restrictions had to be re-imposed in several parts of Europe as they experienced a "second wave" of infections.

READ MORE | 'Just because you can, doesn't mean you should' - Ramaphosa urges continued caution under Level 2

Misinformation and disinformation around Covid-19 continues to fuel the negative stigma attached to testing positive for the virus, and this needs to be challenged.

This emerged from a roundtable discussion on the stigma attached to contracting the novel coronavirus, and the disinformation that fans the flames, hosted by the United Nations on Monday.

United Nations Resident Coordinator in South Africa Nardos Bakele-Thomas said it was sad that Covid-19 pandemic had created an environment for misinformation to grow.

The "scourge of stigma" has been fueled by misinformation and needs to be fought, Bakele-Thomas said.

Panelists all agreed that the stigma attached to Covid-19 was damaging and would lead to people being reluctant to disclose their status, or even be afraid to seek treatment if necessary.

READ MORE | Covid-19 misinformation continues to fuel negative stigma in South Africa

The new regulations for level 2 of lockdown were gazetted on Monday, which allow for gyms and fitness centres to re-open from Tuesday.

But Virgin Active - the country's biggest gym chain, with more than 700,000 members - won't be open this week.

"We are still waiting for approval from government on our Covid operational procedures and protocols, and what conditions will be imposed on our opening," a spokesperson told Business Insider SA. "We expect their review of our plan to take approximately a week, following which we will announce our opening date."

The new regulations determine that only 50 people will be allowed in a gym at any time.

READ MORE | Gyms can now re-open - but Virgin Active will stay closed for now

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 Monday night, positive cases worldwide were more than 21.76 million while deaths were more than 776 000.

The United States had the most cases in the world - more than 5.42 million, as well as the most deaths - more than 170 000.

READ MORE | All the confirmed cases worldwide

LATEST RESEARCH AND HEALTH NEWS

Since the start of the coronavirus pandemic, the list of potential signs and symptoms has become significantly longer.

As there are so many variables, it may be hard to tell whether a general symptom such as fever or coughing indicates that a person has Covid-19, or something else.

But according to scientists from USC Michelson Center, the order of the appearance of symptoms could help doctors diagnose Covid-19 more quickly.

Not only will the order of the symptoms help doctors diagnose Covid-19 at an earlier stage, but it will also give them a clearer understanding of which treatments to prioritise.

It also may help doctors rule out other illnesses, according to the study led by doctoral candidate Joseph Larsen and his colleagues, with faculty advisors Peter Kuhn and James Hicks, at the USC Michelson Center for Convergent Bioscience Convergent Science Institute in Cancer.

"This order is especially important to know when we have overlapping cycles of illnesses like the flu that coincide with infections of Covid-19," stated Kuhn, a USC professor of medicine, biomedical engineering, and aerospace and mechanical engineering, in a news release. "Doctors can determine what steps to take to care for the patient, and they may prevent the patient's condition from worsening."

READ MORE | Scientists identify order in which Covid-19 symptoms appear

Roughly 42% of people with diabetes who tested positive for Covid-19 and had to be admitted to hospital in the Western Cape had died as of 16 July. The preliminary data, presented during a recent digital press conference of the Western Cape Department of Health, is in line with reports from countries hardest hit by the pandemic.

Even before the Covid-19 pandemic diabetes was recognised to be one of the leading causes of illness and death worldwide. According to a recent article penned by leading experts in internal medicine, endocrinology and metabolism and published in the South African Medical Journal (SAMJ), diabetes and obesity globally accounted for “43.4% of all deaths in 2012, compared with 33.6% of deaths from HIV/AIDS and TB combined”.

“In SA, high body mass indexes (BMIs) and DM [diabetes] are the second and third leading risk factors for early death and disability, respectively, and the increasing overlap with infectious diseases is a growing concern,” the authors wrote.

While it is known that diabetes claims many lives, not that much is known about how many people in South Africa have the disease.

"Accurate current data on the prevalence of diabetes in South Africa is quite difficult to find as there are no recent robust studies in all provinces in South Africa,” says Professor Joel Dave, head of endocrinology at the University of Cape Town and co-author of the SAMJ article.

Dave points out that, while there are estimates, there is also significant uncertainty over how many people have uncontrolled diabetes. The Western Cape’s 2019 Burden of Disease Report estimated that around 70% of people with diabetes in the province had poorly controlled or uncontrolled diabetes.

READ MORE | Covid-19: Understanding the increased risk in people with diabetes

The Covid-19 pandemic is leaving an indelible impact on the modern world, changing it forever, including healthcare systems.

While the disease is directly destroying many lives, it's also systematically erasing years of progress made in the fight against other communicable diseases – specifically tuberculosis, malaria and HIV.

Epidemics in their own right, disruptions to medication, the halting of prevention programmes and a fear of seeking medical care due to the coronavirus have severely impacted many countries' – including South Africa's – ability to sustain those fights.

According to recent modelling by the Global Fund on communicable diseases, a six-month disruption of antiretroviral medication alone can lead to more than 500 000 extra deaths from Aids-related illnesses in sub-Saharan Africa.

Despite the two billionth bed net being distributed to prevent malaria infections, Covid-19 disruptions can double malaria deaths on the continent.

For tuberculosis, the predictions are even more worrisome. The Global Fund predicts that treatment and prevention services can erase five years of progress on TB, especially worsening it over the next five years. Just a three-month lockdown can lead to 6.3 million more cases and 1.4 million deaths worldwide.

READ MORE | The forgotten killers: Covid-19 destroying gains made in the fight against malaria, TB

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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