Coronavirus morning update: The latest on testing in SA, UK PM in ICU, and more on symptoms



Cases update: 

The latest number of confirmed cases is 1 686.

The country has also recorded 12 deaths.

Gauteng, the Western Cape, and KwaZulu-Natal account for most of the cases in the country.

READ MORE |All the confirmed cases of coronavirus in SA

Latest news:

South Africans aren't unaccustomed to queueing in a drive-thru, ordering and then waiting for food. But a drive-thru station that conducts Covid-19 tests has to be a first. Then again, we're experiencing many firsts since the outbreak of the deadly coronavirus hit South African shores just over a month ago.  

HealthInsite, a corporate wellness and occupational health service provider, in collaboration with Mullah Labs, have since 26 March been conducting drive-thru Covid-19 tests at the Wanderers Stadium in Johannesburg.

The mobile testing station intends to operate throughout the nationwide shutdown, in order to improve access and reduce the risk and spread of infection, while contributing to "flattening the curve". 

A nurse at the testing station who could not be named, dressed from head to toe in white protective gear, told News24 that a person must meet certain criteria before they can get tested. 

All prospective patients are screened at the first stop - to check if they meet the test criteria.

READ MORE | WATCH | How Covid-19 drive-thru testing station is helping to 'flatten the curve'

Testing for Covid-19 in South Africa will, hopefully, be massively increased in the next few weeks. A machine called the GeneXpert, currently used to diagnose tuberculosis (TB), will be used by the state to test for the coronavirus.

Minister of Health Zweli Mkhize has expressed concern that not enough testing is being done, GroundUp reports.

“Our testing criteria are reactive and restrictive. This means we don’t have a true picture,” he said previously in his daily briefing on the Covid-19 epidemic.

South Africa had conducted over 50 000 tests by 4 April. This compares well to, say, Brazil, which has conducted about the same number of tests but has a much bigger population. But our capacity is far behind Australia (nearly 300 000 tests), South Korea (over 460 000 tests) and most European countries

READ MORE | Covid-19: How South Africa will test for the virus

South Africa's economy may contract by between 2% and 4% this year as a result of the coronavirus pandemic, the SA Reserve Bank has said. 

In its latest Monetary Policy Review, the central bank said there was also limited scope for an economic rebound in 2021, with growth unlikely to exceed 1%. 

Speaking on a webcast briefing on Monday afternoon, Reserve Bank Governor Lesetja Kganyago said forecasting had become "nightmarish" given the many moving parts at play.

In its earlier GDP projection in March, the bank said that economic growth was likely to decline by 0.2% this year. But this was before President Cyril Ramaphosa announced a 21-day nationwide lockdown to curtail the spread of the coronavirus so that South Africa's health infrastructure does not become overwhelmed. 

"South Africa was already in recession prior to the Covid-19 shock, and the situation has become more challenging since," it said.  

READ MORE | Economy may shrink by up to 4% due to coronavirus, warns SA Reserve Bank

A fake video relating to Covid-19 which has emerged, claiming testing kits are possibly contaminated, has been condemned by the Eastern Cape Department of Health. 

In the video, which has been widely distributed on social media, a man - whose name is known to News24 - calls on South Africans to refuse Covid-19 testing.

With an ear bud stuck up his nose, he claims he is giving South Africans "the most important message you will ever hear in your entire life".

He then claims that the South African government will send 10 000 workers door to door, with the police, to test for Covid-19. 

READ MORE | FAKE NEWS: No, Covid-19 testing kits are not contaminated


Cases update:

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

Positive cases worldwide are more than 1 347 000, while deaths are close to 75 000.

The United States has by far the most cases, with more than 368 000, with Spain and Italy both on more than 130 000

Italy has more than 16 500 deaths.

READ MORE | All the confirmed cases worldwide

Latest news:

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson has been moved to intensive care after his symptoms worsened, according to reports on Monday.

He was taken to hospital on Sunday for tests, his office said, 10 days after he tested positive for coronavirus.

This came just two hours after he thanked people for staying at home in a bid to curb the virus. "Stay home, protect the NHS and save lives," he tweeted.

Johnson, 55, announced he had mild symptoms of Covid-19 on March 27 and had been in self-isolation at his Downing Street residence for seven days.

READ MORE | British Prime Minister Boris Johnson's condition worsen, moved to intensive care - reports

President Donald Trump used his daily press briefing to enthusiastically endorse two experimental drugs as a potential treatment for Covid-19, the disease caused by the new coronavirus.

The drugs - chloroquine and hydroxychloroquine- are often used for the prevention and treatment of certain types of malaria. It is also used to treat rheumatoid arthritis, lupus, and a limited number of other conditions.

"It's a powerful drug on malaria, and there are scientific works on this. Some strong signs," Trump said, adding that the US has a stockpile of over 29 million pills for its potential use in fighting Covid-19.

"What do you have to lose?" he said, referring to using the pills for possible coronavirus treatment. "If it does work, it would be a shame if we didn't do it early."

READ MORE | Trump touts chloroquine for Covid-19 but dismisses risks

In a suspected human to animal transmission, a tiger at the Bronx Zoo has tested positive for Covid-19, the coronavirus disease.

Nadia, a four-year-old female tiger at the zoo tested positive, and the diagnosis was confirmed by the USDA's National Veterinary Services Laboratory, based in Ames, Iowa.

The Wildlife Conservation Society said that Nadia, three other tigers, and three African lions have developed dry coughs and decreased appetite, but are expected to recover.

None of the zoo's other big cats, including tigers in another area of the zoo, have shown any coronavirus symptoms.

READ MORE | A tiger at a US zoo tested positive for Covid-19 after coming in contact with an asymptomatic caretaker


As Covid-19 causes complications and death in patients globally, experts are attempting to find out exactly how the virus attacks the body.

While medical experts reported acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS) as one of the main symptoms of Covid-19, it has been shown that it can also affect the heart. But now, according to an article in New York Times, and reports by clinicians, neurological symptoms such as confusion, seizures and an altered mental state have also been observed.

But what does this mean?

In an earlier Health24 article, we discussed the Covid-19 virus’s ability to adhere to several kinds of human cells, not only those of the lungs. This means that patients may present with atypical symptoms such as diarrhoea, apart from the textbook fever, cough and shortness of breath.

Now there are reports of patients who show no signs of pneumonia or respiratory distress, but instead confusion, strange behaviour and sometimes seizures.

READ MORE | Neurological ailments in some coronavirus patients – what could this mean?

HEALTH TIPS (as recommended by the NICD and WHO)

• Avoid contact with people who have respiratory infections 

• 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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