Infections spike in KZN as Covid-19 claims two more

Professor Gita Ramjee.
Professor Gita Ramjee.

The highest concentration of Covid-19 patients in KwaZulu-Natal as of March 30 is in the eThekwini area, followed by uMgungundlovu.

The latest statistics from the Department of Health on Tuesday evening revealed that two more people have died from the virus (total of five deaths). There are a total of 1 353 positive patients, with KZN having 179 patients and two deaths. Gauteng is at 633, the Western Cape with 325, Free State with 74, Limpopo at 14, the Eastern Cape and Mpumalanga with 12 cases each, Northern Cape with six and North West with eight.

KZN reported the first case in the country, on March 5, when a Midlands businessman tested positive after returning from a skiing trip to Italy with a group of 10. Five more people from that group tested positive shortly thereafter.

Among the dead is prominent and world-renowned Professor Gita Ramjee, a chief specialist scientist and director of the South African Medical Research Council’s HIV Prevention Research Unit. She died on Tuesday after returning from the United Kingdom.

It is believed Professor Ramjee was on a ventilator at a local hospital and had presented with pneumonia.

Tributes from the medical fraternity poured in. Described as a “towering HIV prevention leader”, “a stellar vaccine scientist”, her death was described as a “massive loss for science”.

South African Medical Research Council president and CEO Professor Glenda Gray confirmed Ramjee’s death as being from “Covid-19 related complications”.

“We are sincerely grateful for her contributions to HIV prevention and for the role she played in our lives,” said Gray.

On Sunday, the province recorded its first death — that of a 74-year-old pensioner from Ladysmith.

Health Minister Dr Zweli Mkhize said the man had been on a ventilation machine at a private hospital.

He had travelled to the Kruger National Park with his family and when he got back, he began displaying flu-like symptoms. On March 27, the man tested positive for Covid-19.

He had an underlying skin cancer condition and had presented with respiratory distress, shortness of breath, cardiac failure, decreased saturation and his temperature was above 38 degrees, Mkhize had said. His family and contacts have since been put into quarantine.

The country’s first Covid-19 death was reported in the Western Cape last week. Madeleine van Wyk (48) died at the Durbanville Mediclinic.

According to Mkhize, Van Wyk had been suffering from a pulmonary embolism or a blood clot on her lung.

KZN province saw its spike in the infection rate on March 26 with 36 more cases reported then. eThekwini had 102 positive cases on Monday, uMgungundlovu 30, uMkhanyakude 20, Ugu, 11, Amajuba nine, uThukela and King Cetshwayo eight each, Umzinyathi two, Zululand and Ilembe one each, with Harry Gwala reporting no positive cases yet.

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