1,280 confirmed coronavirus infections in South Africa as second person dies

As of Sunday 29 March, the total number of confirmed Covid-19 cases is 1,280. This is an increase of 93 from the previously reported cases.

The announcement of the latest cases also includes the second death related to the virus in South Africa.

“It is with sadness that we announce the second death of a patient who had tested positive for Covid-19,” said health minister Zweli Mkhize.

The 74 year old male had been in ICU and ventilation in a private hospital in Ladysmith. He had travelled to Kruger National Park with his family and came back with flu like symptoms. He was confirmed to be Covid-19 positive on the 27th March 2020.

“It has been reported to us that the deceased patient had an underlying skin cancer condition (melanoma), which had already complicated. He presented with the following symptoms: respiratory distress, shortness of breath, cardiac failure, decreased saturation and his temperature was above 38 degrees,” he said.

The deceased’s family, 14 health workers, including 3 specialist doctors, who were in contact with him are now in quarantine and being monitored.

“We express our condolences to the family and we thank the doctors and health workers who looked after the deceased patient until his time of passing,” the minister said.

On Saturday, the Department of Health confirmed 1 187 Covid-19 cases and one death. It was previously reported that two people had died as a result of the virus, but the health department later clarified that one of the cases was only suspected, not confirmed.

Globally, coronavirus cases have climbed to 680,696, with 31,920 reported deaths, and 146,396 recoveries.

The Department of Defence and Military Veterans meanwhile, has called up members from the Reserve Force to complement the already deployed soldiers in the fight against Coronavirus (Covid-19).

The call comes after president Cyril Ramaphosa deployed South African National Defence Force (SANDF) members to assist the country to fight the Coronavirus pandemic.

This as South Africa entered a 21-day national lockdown, which came into effect at midnight on 26 March.

The move is in line with the National Disaster Management Act of 2002 section 27, sub-section 2, which provides that the SANDF must release its personnel to a national Organ of State for rendering of emergency services.

Sub-section 2(f) provides for the SANDF to assist with the movement of persons and goods to and from or within the disaster stricken or threatened area(s).

The department said the SANDF will be deployed in various capacities.

Similarly, the South African Military Health Service has called up Reserve Force doctors, nurses, operational emergency care practitioners, together with teams to work with other health practitioners in various fields.

Members of the South African Police Service (SAPS) and SANDF are currently deployed in all parts of the country, where they will play an important role in supporting and enforcing the nation’s compliance with the restriction of movement of people under the National State of Disaster and lockdown.

Financial aid

South Africa may approach the International Monetary Fund for the first time ever to help with funding to deal with the fallout from the coronavirus outbreak, Johannesburg’s Sunday Times reported, citing Finance Minister Tito Mboweni.

While the minister is currently considering an emergency budget, he also advocates asking the World Bank for assistance, the newspaper said.

“In a conversation with the Reserve Bank and the Treasury I indicated that we should proceed and speak to the IMF and the World Bank about any facility that we can access for health purposes,” he said, according to the newspaper. “We take no ideological position.”

Bloomberg reported that South Africa is considering an emergency income grant to assist informal workers who can’t earn money during the nation’s 21-day lockdown to buy food, citing Rapport newspaper.

A task team of economic advisers finalized the plan in meetings at the weekend and will on Sunday present it to President Cyril Ramaphosa’s national command council for the government’s Covid-19 response effort, the Johannesburg-based paper reported without saying where it got the information or giving any amount.

While the official unemployment rate is 29%, the rate according to the expanded definition, which includes people who have given up looking for work, is almost 39%.

Millions of South Africans therefore depend on informal trade and odd jobs to make a living and due to the lockdown most of that has been shut down.

An announcement about the grant could be made as early as Sunday, with the country’s recipients of old-age and child support grant likely to be included in the plan, said Caroline Skinner, a development economist at the University of Cape Town and a member of the grant task team, according to Rapport.


Read: Use pension funds for coronavirus relief efforts – unions

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1,280 confirmed coronavirus infections in South Africa as second person dies