Coronavirus morning update: Cases in SA hit 150 but health minister says 'we are seeing recoveries'



Cases update: 

The latest number of confirmed cases is 150.

Gauteng, KwaZulu-Natal, the Western Cape, Limpopo and Mpumalanga are still the affected provinces so far.

The province with the most cases is Gauteng with 76 confirmed cases.

READ MORE |All the confirmed cases of coronavirus in SA

Latest news:

Before he announced stringent lockdown measures to combat the novel coronavirus, President Cyril Ramaphosa was told that a slow and inadequate response by government to the outbreak, could result in anywhere between 87 900 and 351 000 deaths in South Africa and cause the health system to be overwhelmed.

News24 has seen the epidemiological projections prepared for the department of health and government that catapulted severe state action. These projections formed the basis of Ramaphosa's and the Cabinet's plans to combat the novel coronavirus, which as of Wednesday night had infected 116 South Africans.

Since the projections were presented to Ramaphosa and Cabinet, the government has announced a range of dramatic regulations and interventions to prevent the spread of the virus.

The calculations presented to Ramaphosa are based on an infection rate of 10%, 20% and 40% of the population and factors in a slow or non-existent response by authorities.

READ MORE | The terrifying coronavirus projections that pushed govt into lockdown

Minister of Health Zweli Mkhize on Thursday said the department has started seeing recoveries of Covid-19 virus positive patients. 

In a statement, he said they were in the process of conducting further confirmation tests and medical examinations.

“We will formally inform the public on the number of recoveries. At this stage, most of the patients are recovering well,” Mkhize said.

READ MORE | Coronavirus: 'We are starting to see recoveries' says Mkhize

The number of confirmed cases of the Covid-19 virus rose to 150 on Thursday, with the country recording its first transmission cases from the continent.

As of Thursday, the National Institute for Communicable Diseases (NICD) confirmed 34 new cases.

For the first time since the outbreak in South Africa, transmission cases have come from the rest of Africa.

According to the NICD, three adult patients in their forties, who recently travelled to the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), have tested positive for the Covid-19 virus. All three cases were located in Gauteng.

READ MORE | Coronavirus: SA records first transmission cases from rest of Africa

Justice Minister Ronald Lamola and Police Minister Bheki Cele have warned South Africans that failure to comply with the regulations of the national state of disaster to combat the Covid-19 virus outbreak in South Africa will be dealt with by law enforcement agencies.

"For us, this is a very important means to help us combat [the virus]," Lamola said.

He was speaking at an inter-ministerial committee briefing in Pretoria on Thursday to explain, in more detail, the regulations that were gazetted on Wednesday, officially kicking off South Africa's national state of disaster.

Cele said restrictions on South Africans as part of the national state of disaster was now part of the law. "It's not negotiations, it's the law."

READ MORE | Coronavirus: SA warned that failing to comply with new regulations will be dealt harshly

Malusi Mpumlwana, the general secretary of the South Africa Council of Churches says some religious leaders are reluctant to abide by the government's ban of not more than 100 people in gatherings, calling them "naysayers who are testing God".

"Churches that refuse to do this could face charges of life endangerment because that is what it is. You are creating a situation where people will infect one another, and this is going to explode."

Mpumlwana was briefing the media, along with several other religious leaders from different denominations, following a meeting with President Cyril Ramaphosa in Pretoria on Thursday. 

Mpumlwana cited reports out of South Korea, which said 60% of Covid-19 virus infections resulted from a church which refused to close its doors to congregants. 

READ MORE | 'Naysayers who are testing God' - Some churches refuse social distancing


Cases update:

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

Positive cases worldwide are now more than 245 000, while deaths are more than 10 000.

Seven countries, China, Italy, Iran, Spain and Germany,United States and France all have more than 10 000 cases.

Italy has now surpassed China and has the most deaths, with 3 405.

READ MORE | More than 150 000 cases worldwide

Latest news:

Italy passed a grim milestone on Thursday when it overtook China as the country with most reported deaths from the new coronavirus sweeping the planet.

The world has stepped up its war to try to contain the rapid spread of the Covid-19 virus, with several countries imposing lockdowns that are keeping tens of millions of people trapped in their homes.

But the death toll has soared in Europe even as China saw a glimmer of hope with zero new domestic cases reported for the first time.

READ MORE | Grim milestone: With 3 405 deaths, Italy records more coronavirus fatalities than China

Millions of people could die from the new coronavirus, particularly in poor countries, if it is allowed to spread unchecked, UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres warned on Thursday, appealing for a coordinated global response to the pandemic.

"Global solidarity is not only a moral imperative, it is in everyone's interests," he said.

Guterres stressed the need for a coordinated global response to contain a "health catastrophe" that already has claimed the lives of more than 9 000 people and infected more than 217 500 around the world.

"We need to immediately move away from a situation where each country is undertaking its own health strategies to one that ensures, in full transparency, a coordinated global response, including helping countries that are less prepared to tackle the crisis," he said.

He urged governments to give "the strongest support to the multilateral effort to fight the virus, led by the World Health Organization, whose appeals must be fully met."

READ MORE | Millions could die if coronavirus spreads unchecked, warns UN chief


The Covid-19 virus has caused public anxiety and a feeling of powerlessness across the world. Since the outbreak, misinformation and false statements have been doing the rounds, including conspiracy theories that the virus is a "man-made bioweapon", reports Forbes.

However, a new study, published in the journal Nature Medicine, found no evidence that the virus was created in a laboratory or otherwise engineered.

Shortly after the outbreak of the novel strain of coronavirus on December 31 last year and Chinese authorities alerting the World Health Organization (WHO), Chinese scientists sequenced the genome of the Covid-19 virus – officially named SARS-CoV-2, but referred to as the Covid-19 virus – and made the data available to researchers across the world.

Researchers behind the recent study, which was published yesterday, then analysed this public genome sequence data from the Covid-19 virus, as well as related viruses, and focused in on a number of revealing features of the virus, in the hope of determining its origin and evolution. They concluded that it was the product of "natural evolution".

"By comparing the available genome sequence data for known coronavirus strains, we can firmly determine that SARS-CoV-2 originated through natural processes," said Kristian Andersen, PhD, an associate professor of immunology and microbiology at Scripps Research and one of the authors of the study.

READ MORE | New coronavirus is not man-made, new study confirms

Whenever we see images of the coronavirus pandemic in the news, we associate it with hazmat suits and people deep-cleaning healthcare settings and places where people might have been exposed to the virus.

By now we know that the Covid-19 virus is spread by droplets through coughing, sneezing, touching and talking, but researchers are still working hard to determine exactly why this virus is spreading so rapidly.

A new study published in the New England Journal of Medicine explores the viability of the Covid-19 virus on certain surfaces.

For the purpose of this study, the researchers from several institutions, including the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases and the University of California, tested the viability of both the Covid-19 virus and the SARS virus on plastic, in aerosols, on stainless steel, copper and cardboard.

READ MORE | How long can coronavirus survive in the air and on surfaces; and why do you need to wash your hands?

HEALTH TIPS (as recommended by the NICD and WHO)

• Avoid contact with people who have respiratory infections 

• Maintain social 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.

READ MORE: Coronavirus 101 

Image credit: Getty Images
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