Coronavirus morning update: Concern over drunk driving arrests, and Hong Kong man re-infected



Cases update: 

The latest number of confirmed cases is 611 450.

According to the latest update, 13 159 deaths have been recorded in the country.

There have been 516 494 recoveries.

So far, a total of 3.56 million tests have been conducted, with 10 640 new tests reported.

READ MORE | All the confirmed cases of coronavirus in SA

Latest news:

The government on Monday expressed concern at reports of alcohol abuse, recklessness and fatal road accidents after the easing of restrictions under Level 2.

It has been a week since President Cyril Ramaphosa announced the lifting of the ban on the sale of alcohol as part of the national implementation of Level 2 regulations.

News24 reported that more than 820 people were arrested in Gauteng over the weekend, including two police officers, for a number of crimes, notably driving under the influence of alcohol.

"The recent spate of fatal accidents following the reopening of liquor sales is a cause for concern," government spokesperson Phumla Williams said in a statement on Monday.

"While many South Africans are responsible in their use of alcohol, government and society cannot sit idle while lives are being destroyed as a result of alcohol abuse and binge drinking. "We have noticed that some people do not abide by alert Level 2 regulations, which place restrictions on gathering, and we urge law enforcement authorities to play their role in bringing the culprits to book."

She welcomed the call by Police Minister Bheki Cele for police to be tough on alcohol consumption and driving.

Williams called on all citizens to be responsible.

"We urge road users, especially drivers, to take extra care and exercise utmost vigilance on the road."

The alcohol industry said in a statement on Monday evening that it supported the government's call to fight alcohol abuse.

It also appreciated the opportunity to continue trading.

READ MORE | Level 2: Govt concerned after 820 arrested in Gauteng at the weekend, many for drunk driving

A total of 48 people have been killed on Eastern Cape roads since the beginning of lockdown Level 2, which allows for the sale of alcohol.

The 48 died in 33 crashes, said Eastern Cape transport department spokesperson Khuselwa Rantjie.

Rantjie said 15 of those killed were pedestrians.

Seventeen people died over the weekend alone, in 16 crashes, said Rantjie.

Speeding, reckless, and negligent driving were the major contributing factors to the accidents, Rantjie added.

Investigations were underway to establish if alcohol was a contributing factor in some of the crashes, said Rantjie.

READ MORE | 48 killed on Eastern Cape roads since move to level 2

Pressure is mounting on Gauteng hospitals following the lifting of the ban of alcohol sales across the country.

Last month the provincial Coronavirus Command Council reported that there were 8 301 beds available for Covid-19 patients, and that a total of 1 575 beds including 900 intensive care unit beds would be ready by end of July.

By 29 July, 5 476 Covid-19 patients were admitted in hospitals and 1 889 were in ICU, while 3 587 were admitted in general wards.

In a statement on Monday, following the move to Level 2 lockdown, the Gauteng Department of Health said the correlation between alcohol consumption and the number of emergency cases presenting at public hospitals was undeniable and putting pressure on the health system.

"The admission for emergency cases decreased during April, May, and July this year compared to last year. This can be attributed to lockdown and [the] ban on [the] sale of alcohol. The number of emergency room admissions increased in June, but decreased again in July after the ban," department spokesperson Kwara Kekana said.

"The department urges the people of Gauteng to act responsibly during the Level 2 lockdown that has seen the lifting of the ban on sale of alcohol."

READ MORE | Pressure mounting on Gauteng hospital beds after alcohol ban was lifted

Gauteng has received its first batch of ventilators from the Solidarity Fund.

On Sunday, 206 018 people had tested positive for the coroavirus in Gauteng making the province the epicentre of the virus.

The fund approved additional funding of R405 million to go towards buying critical healthcare equipment for the public hospital system in the hotspots of Gauteng, the Western Cape, and the Eastern Cape.

Solidarity Fund interim CEO Nomkhita Nqweni said they were responding to an expected surge in hospital admissions caused by Covid-19 predicted to peak in late August.

"A further R250 million was approved for the local production of up to 20 000 non-invasive C-PAP ventilators in support of the National Ventilator Project. As we traverse the predicted peak of the Covid-19 infection in South Africa, it is important that we accelerate our efforts to arm the medical practitioners with the equipment that they need.

"We are gratified that the first installment of ventilators is being distributed ahead of schedule, and are committed to ensuring the speedy dispatch of all ventilators to medical facilities on the frontline of the fight against this pandemic," said Nqweni.

READ MORE | Gauteng receives ventilators ahead of expected spike in Covid-19 infections


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 23.55 million, while deaths were more 810 000.

The United States had the most cases in the world - more than 5.73 million, as well as the most deaths - more than 177 000.

READ MORE | All the confirmed cases worldwide

Latest news:

A Hong Kong man who recovered from Covid-19 was infected again four-and-a-half months later in the first documented instance of human re-infection, researchers at the University of Hong Kong said on Monday.

The findings indicate the disease, which has killed more than 800 000 people worldwide, will continue to spread amongst the global population despite herd immunity, they said.

The 33-year-old male was cleared of Covid-19 and discharged from a hospital in April, but tested positive again after returning from Spain via Britain on 15 August.

The patient had appeared to be previously healthy, researchers said in the paper, which was accepted by the international medical journal Clinical Infectious Diseases.

He was found to have contracted a different coronavirus strain from the one he had previously contracted and remained asymptomatic for the second infection.

READ MORE | Covid-19: Hong Kong man re-infected in first documented case

China says it has been giving essential workers shots of an experimental coronavirus vaccine since late July.

Zheng Zhongei, the head of the National Health Commission (NHC) science and technology center, told the state-run CCTV broadcaster on Sunday that "emergency use" of a vaccine was green-lit on 22 July.

Zheng did not say how many workers had been inoculated, or which vaccine candidate was used, but said that the recipients included health workers and border officials.

"Most cases in China now are imported, so border officials are a high-risk group," he said.

The guidelines of the emergency scheme were approved as early as June 24, Zheng said, according to Reuters.

READ MORE | China says it has been injecting key workers with a coronavirus vaccine candidate for a month


Earlier research has shown that breathing and talking, and coughing release tiny (aerosolised) particles carrying SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes Covid-19.

In a new study, surprising findings reveal that singing is no more likely to spread infected aerosols and respiratory droplets than speaking at a similar volume.

The research, which has been supported by Public Health England and the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, was carried out by a collaborative team of 13 researchers from Imperial College London, the University of Bristol and Royal Brompton Hospital.

The results of the project, called "Perform", is the first of their kind and have been published on preprint server ChemRxiv. It has not yet been peer-reviewed or published in a scientific journal.

READ MORE | Coronavirus spread: Singing is no riskier than talking, scientists find

We've all been going through a whirlwind of emotions like anxiety, depression and grief during the Covid-19 pandemic – but many of us are now seeing the frustration caused by the situation boiling over into anger.

One global study analysed more than 20 million English tweets and found that the fear at the start of the pandemic eventually gave way to anger – a common emotion when suffering from loss. And as a result of the pandemic, people have lost job security, stability, health, social interactions and even loved ones.

If you're feeling a little angrier than usual, don't worry, it's a perfectly natural emotion, according to anger management specialist Karen van Zyl from Pretoria.

"It is a secondary emotion triggered to provide a defence against a situation the person doesn't like," says Van Zyl.

This can be triggered especially by changes in our lives and when times are uncertain – and 2020 has doled out enough uncertainty to make our heads spin for a long time.

Other common triggers include tiredness, stress and hunger, but it's important to investigate what other feelings are featuring alongside anger.

READ MORE | Lockdown got you fuming? How to understand your anger and deal with it

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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