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2020/04/032020/04/06 03:09 PM

The National Institute for Communicable Diseases (NICD) is reviewing its stance on discouraging members of the public from using masks to reduce the spread of Covid-19, it emerged on Thursday.

The World Health Organisation and the NICD, a government body that provides research and advice on infectious diseases, have until now consistently said that ordinary people do not need to wear masks unless they are sick or caring for someone who is.
2020/04/032020/04/06 03:10 PM

There is something very peculiar about SA’s Covid-19 numbers.

From March 21 to March 24, there were 352 new cases, an average daily increase of 27.9 %. In the four days after that, the number of new cases increased on average by 21%. But in the four days ending on Wednesday April 1 there were 193 new cases, a daily average increase of 3.84%.
2020/04/032020/04/06 03:11 PM

Parliament’s health committee on Thursday called on Health Minister Dr Zweli Mkhize to investigate the lack of protective gear for health workers amid the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.

Committee chairperson Dr Sibongiseni Dhlomo expressed concern over the reported shortage and called on government to do something urgently.
2020/04/032020/04/06 03:13 PM

Nurses say they are afraid of contacting the virus because they don’t have Personal Protective Equipment.

With South Africa under lockdown aiming at slowing down the transmission of COVID-19, thousands of health workers are in the frontline. Nurses from various hospitals and clinics anonymously share their experiences with SABC News.
2020/04/032020/04/06 03:14 PM

The World Health Organisation (WHO) said it was taking stock of how many intensive care unit (ICU) facilities and ventilators each African country had to respond to the coronavirus, as many already had weak health systems.

More than 4,000 cases have been reported in sub-Saharan Africa and 125 people have died.
2020/04/022020/04/06 02:57 PM

Health minister Zweli Mkhize on Tuesday gave an update on the severity of the Covid-19 pandemic in SA during a press briefing in KwaZulu-Natal.

He discussed the use of masks as protective gear and said the implementation of the lockdown was showing signs of improvement in flattening the curve.
2020/04/022020/04/06 03:04 PM

Despite a slowing down in the number of confirmed Covid-19 cases in SA, health minister Dr Zweli Mkhize has warned that the current lull could be the “calm before a heavy and devastating storm”.

On Wednesday evening Mkhize announced an increase of just 27 confirmed cases of Covid-19 since Tuesday afternoon — bringing the total figure to 1,380 cases.
2020/04/06 03:05 PM

South African health-care workers at the forefront of the Covid-19 pandemic in public hospitals are concerned about their health and safety, as they are expected to work without masks and protective gear.

The already emotionally and physically drained workers said they were dealt another blow this week, when they received correspondence from their respective managers, threatening them with disciplinary action if they refused to work without masks or protective gear.
2020/04/022020/04/06 03:07 PM

Government has published updated regulations for South Africa’s 21-day coronavirus lockdown – including amendments around a new national coronavirus database.

In a gazette published on Thursday (2 April), the regulations state that the Department of Health shall ‘develop and maintain a national database to enable the tracing of persons who are known or reasonably suspected to have come into contact with any person known or reasonably suspected to have contracted Covid-19’.
2020/04/012020/04/06 02:54 PM

The number of people who have succumbed to COVID-19 in the country has continued to increase but not at the rate that was expected.

Health Minister Zweli Mkhize said that five people had now died after being infected with the virus, with the latest person being a 46-year-old woman from Umlazi.
2020/04/012020/04/06 03:02 PM

The purpose of the partnership is to get easily accessible coronavirus consultations for every single South African

Discovery, the country’s largest health insurance provider and telecoms giant Vodacom have teamed up to offer the public free, virtual consultations with doctors to help diagnose and treat those exhibiting symptoms of the coronavirus.
2020/03/312020/04/06 02:31 PM

Appeal goes out to companies in manufacturing, forestry and agriculture, construction, mills, spray painting, mining and signwriting industries, among others to release personal protective equipment

Business SA (BSA), a new initiative created to help the government combat SA’s response to Covid-19, has issued an urgent call to companies to release their supplies of masks, gowns and gloves to protect health-care staff tackling the virus.

BSA includes organisations such as Business Unity SA and the Black Business Council.

SA’s first coronavirus case was announced on March 5, and by Sunday the tally had soared to 1,280 confirmed cases, with two deaths. Health-care workers are already sounding the alarm over shortages of masks, gloves, plastic aprons and goggles.

South African Medical Association (Sama) chair Angelique Coetzee said the organisation was advising doctors to consider every patient as being potentially infected and step up their use of protective equipment. However, Sama was receiving reports of shortages in public hospitals, particularly in Gauteng and KwaZulu-Natal.

Local stocks of personal protective equipment (PPE) have been hit by soaring global demand in the face of the Covid-19 pandemic, which by Monday had sickened 738,000 people and killed more than 35,000 people since it first emerged in China late last year, according to the Johns Hopkins University tracker. The equipment shortages have been worsened by export restrictions, supply chain disruptions and escalating costs, BSA said in a statement.

“Stocks are rapidly depleting. We are going to have to fly in a special consignment from China,” said the head of BSA’s health workstream Stavros Nicolaou, who is Aspen Pharmacare’s head of strategic trade. The consignment, worth “tens of millions of rand”, had been financed by the Solidarity Fund and other donors, he said. The fund was established by the government last week to channel donations aimed at helping SA tackle Covid-19 and support vulnerable people whose lives are disrupted by the disease.

Supplies would be allocated to both private and public health-care facilities, in consultation with the national health department, said Nicolaou.

“In almost every sector, there are companies that have stocks of protective gear that they issue to employees to protect them in the workplace. These are the stocks that are urgently required to be fed into the national health efforts to combat and manage the spread of Covid-19,” he said.

BSA is eyeing PPE held by companies in manufacturing, forestry and agriculture, construction, mills, spray painting, mining and signwriting industries, among others, as a strategy for quickly boosting stocks for the health-care sector.

It is also working with the government to try to boost local manufacturing and production.

In a separate development, the National Empowerment Fund announced that it would make R200m in low interest loans available to support black entrepreneurs to manufacture medical supplies, including PPE.

BSA has asked all companies with PPE stocks to contact it on covid19supplies@businessresponsecovid19.co.za.
2020/03/312020/04/06 02:32 PM

Contacts to be tracked and traced; people to be tested at home.

SA will deploy a 10,000-strong force of field workers to visit homes across the country to screen people for symptoms of the Covid-19 virus and will introduce mobile technology to track and trace contacts of those found to be positive, President Cyril Ramaphosa said.
2020/03/312020/04/06 02:51 PM

Soon, tests for Covid-19 - the respiratory illness caused by the coronavirus - will be done at homes across the country.

Field workers will do the visits to do screenings, President Cyril Ramaphosa announced on Monday.
2020/03/312020/04/06 02:53 PM

As the Covid-19 death toll climbed to three, with more than 1 300 people infected in the country yesterday, President Cyril Ramaphosa announced a new wave of intensified measures, including door-to-door screening and testing.

“We are now entering a new phase in the fight against the Covid-19 pandemic,” Ramaphosa said in an address to the nation last night.
Mia Lindeque

The National Education, Health and Allied Workers' Union (Nehawu) is ready to file an urgent interdict against Health Minister Zweli Mkhize if he fails to respond to the desperate plea for protective gear for health workers fighting the COVID-19 pandemic.

More than 1,300 people have tested positive for the coronavirus in South Africa so far but the union said the number would rise significantly once more tests were carried out.

2020/03/312020/04/06 02:56 PM

Medical organisations representing tens of thousands of doctors and therapists are unhappy that they are only permitted to use video or phone calls to only treat existing patients during the Covid-19 outbreak, saying the restriction is “wrong and dangerous”.

The Health Professions Council of SA (HPCSA), the regulator of doctors and therapists, had previously banned all forms of telemedicine except for allowing doctors to give a prescription over the phone.
2020/03/302020/04/06 02:47 PM

South Africa will participate in the Public Health Emergency Solidarity Trial, which has been initiated by the World Health Organisation (WHO) to come up with effective Covid-19 treatment protocols.

“WHO has convened an independent group of experts to review evidence from laboratory, animal and clinical studies to prioritise treatments for inclusion in the trial,” Health Minister Dr Zweli Mkhize says.
2020/03/272020/03/03 10:16 AM

The scepticism (contempt, actually) with which the Treasury regards the health department’s National Health Insurance plan is evident in how little has been allocated to it — about 1% of the budget — and the decision to make the NHI bear the lion’s share of spending cuts.

The total health budget is R229.7bn, of which 62.5%, or R145bn, will go to salaries.
2020/03/272020/03/30 09:45 AM

Since last week Health Minister Zweli Mkhize has been talking about how the country will ramp up testing for Covid-19, yet laboratories have a backlog of more than 5 000 tests.

The impact of this has been confirmed by doctors in the private and public sector, who have told the Mail & Guardian that there is quite a backlog in getting results for Covid-19 tests.
2020/03/272020/03/30 09:47 AM

Western Cape Premier Alan Winde has told CapeTalk that the first two patients to die as a result of Covid-19 were women.

South Africa recorded its first Covid-19 deaths on Friday, the 28-year-old and 48-year-old women from the Western Cape.
2020/03/272020/03/30 09:49 AM

As South Africans begin the first day of the national 21-day lockdown, the National Health Laboratory Service (NHLS) says it is stepping up its efforts to fight the spread of Coronavirus.

NHLS chief executive officer, Dr Kamy Chetty, said the organisation has adequate testing capacity and equipment to meet the demand.
2020/03/262020/03/30 09:46 AM

Pressure mounts on medical regulator to let doctors see to Covid-19 patients over the phone or by video call

Doctors are pleading for the medical regulator to allow them to consult via video and voice calls to keep vulnerable patients safe at home and ensure that those with Covid-19 symptoms don’t come into busy waiting rooms.
2020/03/252020/03/30 09:40 AM

Laboratory service to increase the number of mobile testing sites from four to 20 in the same period

The National Health Laboratory Service (NHLS) is rapidly expanding its testing capabilities for Covid-19 and will be able to process 36,000 samples a day by the end of April, it said on Wednesday.
2020/03/242020/03/30 09:42 AM

The country’s health laboratories are taking strain as testing for the Covid-19 disease, caused by the novel coronavirus, increases.

Zweli Mkhize, the Minister of Health, announced on Tuesday that the number of confirmed infections had jumped from 402 to 554.
2020/03/232020/03/30 09:31 AM

The Gauteng health department has put additional measures in place at its facilities to strengthen the response to the coronavirus.

Last week, the department imposed new restrictions on visiting hours at health care facilities, limiting visits to one hour per day and only allowing one visitor at a time for a maximum of 15 minutes.

On Sunday, they cancelled elective surgeries that were planned in advance and they also scrapped all annual health events.

Gauteng health spokesperson Kwara Kekana said: “We will reduce the number of patient visits by using the appointment system. A separate area for patients with flu-like symptoms will be identified in facilities. We will also increase the number of chronic patients linked to centralised chronic medical dispensing and distribution system.”

At the same time, activists said allowing evictions to go ahead during the coronavirus outbreak would be dangerous for vulnerable people.

A group of non-governmental organisations has penned a letter to the president’s national command council asking for a moratorium on evictions.

Ndifuna Ukwazi's Mandisa Shandu said: “In the context of evicting and displacing people into spaces where there isn’t an alternative, for various reasons, poses a serious risk on all fronts. So the basic minimum that can be done is to place a moratorium on that so as to not exacerbate the risk.”
2020/03/232020/03/30 09:35 AM

Government needs to take drastic action to avoid the country reaching a tipping point of 100 locally acquired cases, according to a team of researchers at Wits University.

One million South Africans could contract Covid-19 within just 40 days, unless the government takes drastic action to avoid the country reaching a tipping point of 100 locally acquired cases, according to a team of researchers at Wits University.
2020/03/232020/03/30 09:37 AM

Gauteng and Western Cape are bracing for a surge in Covid-19 cases and are rapidly scaling back on the number of patients using their facilities. Similar moves are being taken by some of the private hospital groups, based on their risk assessments Reported cases of Covid-19 in SA surged past 400 on Monday, 18 days after the first case was confirmed on March 5.

A total of 402 cases have been reported, in all nine provinces, with the majority in Gauteng (207) and Western Cape (100).
2020/03/202020/03/23 08:45 AM

Quality health care is essential, but according to the World Health Organisation (WHO), only 10% of South Africans can afford it. The proposed National Health Insurance (NHI) might be the solution to this violation of a basic right.

Last month, President Cyril Ramaphosa addressed the issue of the NHI in his state of the nation address, emphasising that the growth of the nation depends on a healthy and productive population that has access to quality and affordable health care.
2020/03/202020/03/23 08:57 AM

Die regering het ’n spesiale regulasie uitgevaardig om die private sektor se hospitale, dokters, verpleërs en toerusting te kan gebruik in die bekamping van die Covid-19 uitbreking, het Ebrahim Patel, minister van handel en nywerheid, Donderdag aangekondig.

Hy het op ’n mediakonferensie gesê die regering het deur die nasionale departement van gesondheid met die private gesondheidsektor geskakel om deel van die gekoördineerde poging te word om die virus te bekamp.
2020/03/23 08:59 AM

The government is rapidly expanding the number of sites that can provide Covid-19 testing, aiming to cover 6,000 patients a day as soon as possible, according to National Health Laboratory Service (NHLS) CEO Kamy Chetty.

SA is the worst affected country in sub-Saharan Africa, and has seen its outbreak grow rapidly since the first case was announced by health minister Zweli Mkhize a fortnight ago.

The tally of confirmed cases of Covid-19 stood at 150 on Thursday, and the figure is expected to be as high as 200 by Friday, the minister told the SA Medical Association on Thursday night.
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