287,796 confirmed coronavirus cases in South Africa as deaths climb to 4,172

Health minister Dr Zweli Mkhize has announced that there are now 287,796 total cases of coronavirus in South Africa.

This is an increase of 11,554 cases from the 276,242 cases reported on Sunday.

The minister announced 93 new Covid-19 related deaths, taking the total to 4,172 casualties, while the minister pointed to 138,241 recoveries to date.

A total of 2.19 million tests have been conducted, with 40,233 tests conducted over the past 24 hours, Dr Mkhize said.

Since 31 December 2019 and as of 13 July 2020, more than 13 million cases of Covid-19 have been reported, including approximately 572,000 deaths, and around 7.6 million recoveries.

Two of Pfizer and BioNTech’s four investigational mRNA-based vaccine candidates received fast track designation from the FDA, Bloomberg reported.

The designation was granted based on preliminary data from phase 1/2 studies that are currently ongoing in the US and Germany as well as animal studies.

The companies said a large, global Phase 2b/3 study may begin as early as this month.

Alcohol ban welcomed

President Cyril Ramaphosa’s announcement to reinstate a ban on alcohol sales in the midst of the Covid-19 pandemic is reflective of an increased number of trauma cases seen in hospitals.

“It’s a decision that I don’t think he’s taken lightly. It’s a decision that was reflective of what we have been seeing in the last few days.

“Unfortunately if you look at the various levels of lockdown under level 5, our trauma units were nice and quiet. Under level 4, it was around 20% of the user volumes to about 40%,” professor Steve Moeng said on Monday.

Moeng, who is head of trauma at Gauteng’s Charlotte Maxeke Hospital, spoke to SAnews following the president’s announcement of the immediate suspension of the sale, dispensing and distribution of alcohol during a televised address on Sunday night.

In his weekly newsletter on Monday, the president said there is clear evidence that the resumption of alcohol sales has resulted in substantial pressure being put on hospitals, including trauma and ICU units, due to motor vehicle accidents, violence and related trauma.

“We have therefore decided that in order to conserve hospital capacity, the sale, dispensing and distribution of alcohol will be suspended with immediate effect,” he said in the newsletter.

Moeng said that since the country moved to level 3 of the lockdown on 1 June, hospitals have seen more trauma cases.

“Usually when it’s cold, trauma goes down, but unfortunately we have seen higher numbers. Unfortunately, that has had a negative impact in terms of our ability to deal with the Covid-19 load in our hospitals,” he said.

Moeng, who is also the academic head of trauma at the University of the Witwatersrand (Wits), said a hospital’s response to Covid-19 is put under pressure when the trauma load increases.

“Unfortunately it reduces that capacity for us to deal with other emergencies.

“Remember at the same time it’s the flu season and I understand why he may have found it worthwhile to sit down and see whether we can reduce the trauma load again. Unfortunately in this country the trauma that we see is related to alcohol,” said Moeng.

The professor welcomed the decision announced by the president, saying it will afford hospitals time to pay more attention to Covid-19 which to date has affected at least 276 242 people in the country.

“From the health point of view, we would welcome this, it can help us to reduce and give us an opportunity to be able to pay more attention to Covid-19 again as those numbers are going higher and higher.”