23,615 confirmed coronavirus cases in South Africa as deaths rise to 481

Health minister Dr Zweli Mkhize has announced that there are now 23,615 confirmed cases of coronavirus in South Africa.

This is an increase of 1,032 cases from the 22,583 cases reported on Sunday, when the country recorded its highest 24-hour increase in infections – 1,240 new cases.

Dr Mkhize said on Monday (25 May), that the total number of deaths has now reached 481 – an increase 52 of deaths from 429 reported before.

There have been 11,917 recoveries.

The minister said that 596,777 tests have been conducted, with 12,992 tests in the past 24-hour cycle.

Globally, coronavirus cases topped 5.52 million globally on Monday, while deaths have exceeded 347,000, with more than 2.3 million recoveries.

Since the start of the outbreak, citizens have struggled to get clear answers to some basic questions, Bloomberg reported. Consider masks, for example: The World Health Organisation said early on that there was no point in encouraging healthy people to use them, but now most doctors agree that widespread mask-wearing is a good idea.

The pandemic has reminded us that science — and medicine in particular — has limits.

On the other hand, scientists and medical doctors have struggled to convey a unified message to the public. This does not mean they have failed in their duty. Far from it.

Health-care professionals are the true heroes of this crisis, risking their lives to protect the rest of us. But on a range of issues — from containing the virus to prescribing effective treatments — we have seen some scientists and doctors jump to conclusions, only for others to give immediate rebuttals.

Research does not produce immediate answers. Scientists, doctors and public health experts should not be afraid to say clearly how much they do not yet know, Bloomberg said.

Back to school prep underway

With just a week to go until Grade 7 and 12 learners return to the classroom under level 3 of lockdown, preparations are underway at schools in South Africa to ensure the safe return of pupils, come 1 June 2020.

The doors of learning were shut as the country went on lockdown from 27 March 2020 in a bid to curb the spread of Covid-19.

As the country marks day 60 of lockdown, delivery of personal protective equipment is underway, school desks are being deep cleaned and spaced out, in line with the social distancing protocols of a 1.5m distance between pupils.

In Gauteng, School Management Teams (SMTs) have made their return to schools to pave the way for the return of teachers.

Providing an update on the return of SMTs and teachers, Gauteng Education MEC Panyaza Lesufi said the province’s schools are ready to open their doors to teachers.

“We are preparing to welcome our Grade 7s and 12s from 1 June as Gauteng and thus far, all the measures we needed to put in place for all our senior management teams have been met to the latter.

“We are now moving to the next phase to welcome teachers. After we welcome teachers, we will move to the most critical stage, which is stage 3 of welcoming learners. We will then be in a position to observe whether we can bring in other grades,” said the MEC.

Following the successful completion of deep cleaning, delivery of Personal protective equipment (PPE) and sanitisers at the various schools, Lesufi said by this Friday, all teachers should be at school.

“From our readiness point of view, we just want to ensure that the School Management Teams are back and receive the PPEs and on the basis of that, teachers will come back.

“We have 2,800 schools in Gauteng and we will get stock of how many schools have opened and then we will update you on the daily return of teachers,” he said.

On teachers that are not fit or ready to start, the MEC said these teachers have been given forms to fill in to declare their circumstances, which will allow the provincial department to kick-start the process of finding replacement teachers.

With many parents anxious about the return of children to schools, Lesufi urged them to make use of e-learning materials made available by schools as an alternative.

“We want to emphasise this one: there must be no parent that… would rather have their child repeating a grade because they are scared. We say use all the channels that we have made available because we don’t want a generation that will lose academic programme because of Covid-19.

“Besides, we don’t know how long Covid-19 will be with us,” Lesufi said.

In KwaZulu-Natal, the Provincial Education Department has temporarily postponed the return of School Management Teams and teachers to Thursday, 28 May 2020.

This follows the assessment of cleaning and delivery of PPE to schools.

“It has since been discovered that although a sufficient quota of PPEs has been delivered to districts and circuits, it has not yet been transported to schools where it is needed most,” said the Provincial Department.

The postponement, however, does not apply to circuit managers and principals, who are key to ensuring delivery and receipt of PPEs at school level.

Read: Here’s how many cases South Africa’s top coronavirus hotspots have

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23,615 confirmed coronavirus cases in South Africa as deaths rise to 481