43,434 confirmed coronavirus cases in South Africa as deaths jump to 908

Minister of health Dr Zweli Mkhize has announced that South Africa now has 43,434 confirmed cases of coronavirus.

This is up by 2,642 from the 40,792 infections on Thursday, when the country reported 3,267 new cases – a 24-hour record.

The minister announced 60 new deaths, taking the total up to 908, while recoveries increased to 23,088 which translates to a recovery rate of 53.2%.

A total of 850,871 tests have been conducted to date.

Globally, coronavirus cases topped 6.7 million globally on Friday, while deaths have exceeded 393,000, with more than 3.2 million recoveries.

An international trial using hydroxychloroquine to treat Covid-19 patients will be restarted after questions arose about a study linking the antimalarial drug to increased death and heart risks.

The World Health Organisation said that it will resume recruiting patients for the hydroxychloroquine arm of a global trial called Solidarity, Bloomberg reported.

The agency had paused the branch of the study, which compares the impact of a number of treatment regimens, after the drug was linked to heart risks in a study published in The Lancet, a medical journal.

The move adds to the confusion that’s erupted since more than 200 scientists began questioning the study published May 22 in The Lancet. Scrutiny has focused on Surgisphere Corp., the Chicago-based firm that provided data for the study, from which scientists have demanded more transparency about its sources and methods of analysis, Bloomberg said.

The WHO paused the hydroxychloroquine arm of its study as a precaution “because of concerns raised about the safety of the drug,” director-general Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said in a press briefing. After a safety panel review “the members recommend that there are no reasons to modify trial protocol.”

Court Appeal

Cabinet has resolved to appeal the North Gauteng High Court judgment that declared Covid-19 regulations under levels 3 and 4 invalid and unconstitutional.

Minister in the Presidency, Jackson Mthembu, announced this during a media briefing on the outcomes of a Cabinet virtual meeting held earlier on Thursday.

According to Judge Norman Davis’s ruling handed down on Tuesday, the lockdown regulations do not satisfy the rationality test.

“Their encroachment on and limitation of rights guaranteed in the Bill of Rights contained in the Constitution are not justifiable in an open democratic society based on human dignity, equality and freedom as contemplated in Section 36 of the Constitution,” Davis said in his ruling.

Davis gave government 14 days to alter the guidelines, meaning level 3 regulations remain in place until new regulations were published.

However, Mthembu said Cabinet is of the view that another court might come into a different conclusion on the matter.

“Cabinet has therefore decided to appeal the North Gauteng High Court decision and government will ask that its appeal is heard on an urgent basis so that all of us can obtain certainty on the regulations,” he said.

He told the media that the Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs minister, Dr Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma, will be joined by president Cyril Ramaphosa and Health minister, Dr Zweli Mkhize, in the appeal.

“Cabinet wishes to assure the nation that all interventions introduced since the declaring of the National State of Disaster in March 2020 by President Cyril Ramaphosa have been directed primarily at saving the lives of our people,” said Mthembu.

The regulations, which placed restrictions on the movement of people and stopped some economic activities, have been directed at slowing the spread of COovid-19 infections.

“While government appeals the judgment, parent regulations remain in force and we appeal and urge our people to observe the health protocols that have been put in place, including washing of hands, social distancing, wearing masks in public, as well as screening and referral for testing where necessary.”

He announced that Cabinet has also approved the extension of the National State of Disaster by another month from 15 of June to 15 July 2020.

“It’s with all the regulations that will help us save lives and nothing else, that’s why the appeal,” he added. “We urge our people to stick to these rules.”

Read: South Africa’s cigarette ban heads to court next week

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43,434 confirmed coronavirus cases in South Africa as deaths jump to 908