Health Department reviews suspicious deaths and adds 7 more coronavirus deaths to the toll and the World Health Organisation says it regrets US President Donald Trump’s decision to halt funding it as world leaders condemn the move.
DAY 20 OF LOCKDOWN
BY THE NUMBERS
• Seven additional deaths added to the total number known to have perished from the virus on Wednesday. But an important note – these people didn’t all die in one day. The department has gone back and reviewed suspicious deaths too and so has added those to the final tally. The total number of dead in SA now stands at 34.
• We have confirmed 2,506 cases since the virus first made it here.
• 90,515 tests have been performed.
• Globally, the number of confirmed cases since the virus first emerged last year has surpassed 2 million, with more than 126,000 deaths.
MASS SCREENING AND TESTING
• As you’ll notice from the steady but slow rise in the numbers of daily tests, we are not yet in the mass testing phase.
• However, mass screening is under way across the country.
• This is one of the approaches that is unique to South Africa, with thousands of community health workers going door-to-door in communities to try and identify people with potential symptoms and refer them for testing.
THE RACE FOR A VACCINE OR EVEN JUST A TREATMENT
• THE WHO confirmed three potential vaccines are now in the clinical trial phase, and 70 more are under development.
• They are also looking at 4 drugs and combinations of drugs as potential treatments.
THE PROS AND CONS OF ZOOM
• Zoom is the new normal for pretty much everything right now, but it has some downsides, as the Ministry of Women, Youth and People with Disabilities found out.
• Minister Maite Nkoane-Mashabane was giving a webinar about the effects of COVID-19 on vulnerable members of society when her meeting got Zoom bombed.
• The meeting was made public to allow as many people to be part of it as possible, but the organisers didn’t have enough time to vet everyone.
• One of the participants took control of the screen and started sharing porn.
• Apologies all round from the department and an increase in security measures.
SOCCER AND TV
• MultiChoice, Orlando Pirates and Kaizer Chiefs got together to fund and donate PPEs.
• The donation includes 100,000 N95 masks, 350,000 surgical masks, 100,000 gloves, 10,000 protective overalls, 10,000 wipes and 100,000 shoe covers.
• Pirates and Chiefs are also taking on a mass social media campaign, using players as influencers to encourage people to stay home, and educate them about preventative measures.
• They referenced the power of football as a unifier – at the height of the political violence in KZN, the clubs advocated for unity, and they believe, they made a difference.
• Donald Trump announced the US would withdraw funding from the WHO yesterday, accusing it of promoting Chinese “disinformation” about the virus, and blaming them for worsening the outbreak.
• Interestingly, Trump praised China’s transparency on COVID-19 in January, and yesterday denied he ever did so. Gaslight much?
• His decision elicited worldwide condemnation – howls across the board.
• For its part, the WHO has called the decision “regrettable”, and says it’s assessing how it will impact not only the fight against COVID-19 but also on multiple other programmes to combat diseases like Malaria, TB and HIV/AIDS.
• Our own Health Minister, Zweli Mkhize publicly endorsed the WHO on Wednesday evening, as has pretty much every other world leader during the course of the day.
• Spain is doubling down on testing, as it tentatively relaxes its lockdown regulations. Spain has the second-highest disease burden in Europe after Italy.
• Boris Johnson’s top medical advisor believes Britain’s coronavirus outbreak is probably peaking, but it is too early to start relaxing restrictions.
• Johnson’s government is facing increasing criticism, with warnings that the UK may end up with the worst death rate in Europe because of government failings.