29,240 confirmed coronavirus cases in South Africa as deaths climb to 611

Health minister Dr Zweli Mkhize has announced that there are now 29,240 confirmed cases of coronavirus in South Africa.

This is an increase of 1,837 cases from the 27,403 cases reported before.

Dr Mkhize said on Friday (29 May), that the total number of deaths has now reached 611 – an increase of  34 deaths from 577 reported before.

The minister said that over 655,000 tests have been conducted, with 15,093 recoveries to date.

Mkhize said that 14 health workers have lost their lives in the latest reported numbers.

He said the South Africa is in a unique situation. The country’s moves have not tracked placed like China, where a lockdown was implemented as the number of cases rose, and then eased off when cases declined.

Instead, South Africa implemented a lockdown early on, and is now easing while cases are increasing. He said we’ve had to follow this unique path because of the various factors that need to be considered, such as poverty, incomes under pressure and other social stresses.

“The disease is going to be with us for a year or two or more – so we need to adjust to a new reality,” Mkhize said, adding that masks, sanitisers and social distancing is our new way of living.

Presenting new data on the path of the coronavirus in South Africa, professor Abdool Salim Karim, chair of the advisory panel on the virus in the country, said that the lockdown has been effective in flattening the curve.

However, he warned that with the easing of restrictions, the pace will accelerate.

Professor Karim said that the country will have to use all the tools in its toolbox, namely social distancing, testing, etc to keep the spread under control.

Globally, coronavirus cases topped 5.9 million globally on Friday, while deaths have exceeded 362,000, with around 2.6 million recoveries.

Scientists are raising questions about a study that linked antimalarial drugs to increased heart risks and death among Covid-19 patients, Bloomberg reported.

The study, published last week in The Lancet medical journal, found high rates of dangerous side effects in patients treated with hydroxychloroquine and chloroquine.

A group of some 120 researchers signed a letter pointing out inconsistencies, calling on the authors and The Lancet to reveal more details about their analysis.

The letter pointed out 14 major shortcomings in the paper, including that computer code used to analyze the data wasn’t made public, and that no information was included on the medical centers that contributed data, Bloomberg said.

It also said that rates of deaths reported from Africa seemed “unlikely,” that the daily doses purportedly received by some US patients appeared higher than recommended, and that the level of chloroquine use in some continents was “implausible.”

The letter called on the US company holding the data for the study, Chicago-based Surgisphere, to provide greater detail, and for an independent evaluation of the analysis.

Surgisphere said it works with top-tier institutions “that have a tertiary care level of practice and provide quality health care that is relatively homogenous around the world.

As with most corporations, the access to individual hospital data is strictly governed.”

Level 2

South Africa’s level 3 regulations are appropriate for ‘right now’ and the country is already targeting a move to level 2 of the lockdown with fewer restrictions, says president Cyril Ramaphosa.

In an interview with the SABC on Thursday (28 May), the president said that once the country moves to level 3 lockdown on 1 June 2020, the next move is to look forward to level 2.

However, he said that the country must first ‘bed down’ level 3.

“All of our focus must be on level 3 and all of our focus will be on the country’s (coronavirus) hotspots to ensure that these areas comply with the restrictions as they are.

“This includes (compliance) with the additional health protocols that we will impose on those hotspots. Once all of that is working, we will then be ready to move to level 2,” he said.

The whole of South Africa will be moving to lockdown level 3 in June, but under government’s risk-based assessment of districts there is no guarantee that all hotspot areas – existing or emerging – will stay there, or be able to move on to lower levels.

According to Ramaphosa, these areas will face government interventions which may come with added restrictions, even at level 3. If these interventions fail to stop the spread of the virus in those areas, they may be moved up to lockdown level 4 or even level 5.

The opposite is also true, however, with districts that show little or no spread of the virus being able to move to lower levels.

Assessments of districts will take place at two week intervals.

Ramaphosa emphasised that the country will not remain at level 3 restrictions on a permanent basis – noting that government will also relax the restrictions around the sale of tobacco.

“We are going to migrate to another level. Those who are hankering for tobacco must know that it is only a matter of time before their hankering is assuaged or addressed.”

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29,240 confirmed coronavirus cases in South Africa as deaths climb to 611