Coronavirus morning update: SA cases more than 2 000 - but 410 recoveries, as global deaths top 100 000



Cases update: 

The latest number of confirmed cases is 2 003.

Health Minister Zweli Mkhize said that there are now 24 coronavirus-related deaths in the country.

But Mkhize also said that there have also been 410 recoveries, more than 300 combined in Gauteng and the Western Cape.

READ MORE |All the confirmed cases of coronavirus in SA

Latest news:

Health Minister Zweli Mkhize has recommended that South Africans start wearing cloth masks to help limit the spread of Covid-19, rather than using medical masks reserved for healthcare workers.

"Wearing masks is important. We want to recommend widespread use of masks. We are recommending that people use cloth masks and just make sure there's a three layer kind of thing," he said during a briefing on Friday.

Mkhize said wearing a mask in public places can help slow the spread of the coronavirus, but that other hygiene measures were also crucial.

"Even when wearing a mask, hand-washing and social distancing remain the most important interventions to reduce the spread of Covid-19.

"Cloth masks are easy and not expensive to make, reusable and help reduce the transmission of Covid-19 by acting like a shield to contain the respiratory droplets through which the virus spreads," said Mkhize.

READ MORE | Covid-19: Everyone in SA should wear a cloth mask in public, says Health Minister Zweli Mkhize

School holidays may be scrapped in order to recover lost time as Basic Education Minister Angie Motshekga contemplates the best way to salvage the 2020 academic year.

This is one of the proposals being considered by the department.

Even before the lockdown started last month, Ramaphosa announced that schools would be closed to deal with the coronavirus outbreak. With the lockdown extended to end April, schools will have been closed for over six weeks.

Motshekga's spokesperson, Elijah Mhlanga, said the department is supporting President Cyril Ramaphosa's implementation of the lockdown to curb the spread of the Covid-19 pandemic.

READ MORE | Lockdown: School holidays may be scrapped to salvage 2020 academic year, says Motshekga

Investigating officers looking into the case against Communications Minister Stella Ndabeni-Abrahams have already spoken to the National Prosecuting Authority, Police Minister Bheki Cele said on Friday.

Cele said the investigating officer had already met with the minister and was "taking the matter forward".

This came after the EFF opened a case against Ndabeni-Abrahams who admitted in a recorded message that she had contravened the lockdown regulations.

President Cyril Ramaphosa summoned her to a meeting on Tuesday, where he expressed his disapproval and told her she had undermined the lockdown regulations which required all residents to stay at home to curb the spread of Covid-19, News24 reported.In a statement after the reprimand, Ramaphosa said the law should take its course.

READ MORE | Police question Stella Ndabeni-Abrahams, meet with NPA over lockdown breach - Cele

The South African government should allow the sale of alcohol to resume during the extension of the national lockdown, South Africa's booze makers say – including at taverns, to keep things as local as possible.

But there should be strict rules, including that all drinks must be sold only on a takeaway basis.

"To ensure that consumers do not travel unnecessarily we recommend that licensed taverns and holders of micro-manufacturing licences should be granted a special dispensation to operate strictly as off-consumption outlets subject to the strict social distancing requirements," the industry bodies wrote in a letter to government this week.

Under their proposal, bottle stores and taverns (newly made takeaway-only) would operate between 9AM and 6PM on weekdays, up to 4PM on Saturdays, and not at all on Sundays and public holidays, such as the upcoming Freedom Day.

READ MORE | The SA liquor industry’s plan to get booze back on sale: let taverns do takeaways until 6PM

The South African Chamber of Commerce and Industry (SACCI) is proposing the re-opening of fast food outlets as part a staggered approach to kickstart business activity in the wake of the extended coronavirus lockdown.

The organisation which represents various sectors of the economy said on Friday the industry which employs more than 150 000 people, already operates under strict hygiene and safety standards that are in line with the regulations aimed at curbing the spread of the deadly virus.

One of the conditions put forward by SACCI is that retailers could start making use of delivery services, drive-thru, followed by takeaways, or call and collect, conducted under strict physical distancing regulations. No sit-downs would be permitted, it said.

"Allowing them to go back to work under these strict conditions releases the pressure on the SME relief support measures and UIF funds." 

READ MORE | Open fast food retailers, says business chamber as Ramaphosa extends lockdown


Cases update:

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

Early on Saturday morning positive cases worldwide were nearly 1.7 million, while deaths are more than 102 000.

The Unites States edged closer to 500 000 cases, with Spain, Italy, France and Germany all more than 120 000.

Italy had nearly 19 000 deaths. The other two countries with more than 10 000 were Spain and France.

READ MORE | All the confirmed cases worldwide

Latest news:

Any premature lifting of restrictions imposed to control the Covid-19 pandemic could lead to a fatal resurgence of the new coronavirus, the World Health Organization warned on Friday.

WHO chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said that while some states were considering ways to ease the restrictions which have placed around half of humanity under some form of lockdown, doing so too quickly could be dangerous.

"I know that some countries are already planning the transition out of stay-at-home restrictions. WHO wants to see restrictions lifted as much as anyone," he told a virtual press conference in Geneva.

"At the same time, lifting restrictions too quickly could lead to a deadly resurgence. The way down can be as dangerous as the way up if not managed properly.

"WHO is working with affected countries on strategies for gradually and safely easing restrictions."

READ MORE | Hasty virus lockdown lift could spark 'deadly resurgence': WHO

Brazilian health officials confirmed the first case of Covid-19, the disease caused by the new coronavirus, among the remote Yanomami tribe in the Amazon.

Health Minister Luiz Henrique Mandetta said at a press conference on Wednesday that a 15-year-old boy from the indigenous tribe has tested positive for the disease.

Mandetta said that the case was "worrying," particularly because of the remote community's separation from the outside world.

According to Brazilian newspaper Globo, the boy was admitted to the intensive care unit at a hospital in Roraima, Brazil's northernmost state located in the Amazon region, on April 3. He reported shortness of breath, fever, chest pain, and sore throat.

READ MORE | A remote Amazonian tribe has recorded its first Covid-19 case

In Wuhan, China, the streets are abuzz. Donning masks and protective suits, some public health workers are still spraying disinfectant in well-trafficked areas. But on Wednesday, an 11-week lockdown was lifted, and a sense of normalcy is returning to the city of 11 million, where the novel coronavirus outbreak began in November.

As the threat of the virus fades, some residents welcomed the very aspects of everyday life that make it so monotonous.

"I hated traffic jams before," said one person on Weibo, a popular blogging app, but "now it makes me happy to see them."

"I won't complain about congested traffic again, because it's a sign the streets are flourishing," said another.

READ MORE | People in Wuhan celebrate traffic jams as the once coronavirus epicentre lifts lockdown

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.

READ MORE: Coronavirus 101 

Image credit: Getty Images
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