CORONAVIRUS DAILY DIGEST #76

Academics recommend all children should go back to school, Ramaphosa calls on youth to lead Covid-19 response and cheap steroid could help save patients’ lives

By Zukiswa Pikoli 17 June 2020

DURBAN, SOUTH AFRICA - JUNE 09: Students during the Kzn Premier's visit to Ohlange High School to monitor whether they are adequately prepared to deal with the COVID-19 pandemic on June 09, 2020 in Durban, South Africa. The Premier's visit to the schools is part of the schools monitoring programme to ensure compliance with COVID-19 requirements. (Photo by Gallo Images/Darren Stewart)

A Stellenbosch research report found that keeping children away from schools and crèches can no longer be justified and that they should all return to classes. In his Youth Day address, President Cyril Ramaphosa said young people should be championing the fight for economic recovery after the pandemic. There is hope that a widely accessible steroid named dexamethasone could curb Covid-19-related deaths.

Swipe through the gallery below to view the latest Covid-19 numbers. All maps are sourced from provincial health departments. KwaZulu-Natal and Eastern Cape did not provide an update by the time of publishing.

Rebecca Davis reports that research released by two Stellenbosch academics argues that keeping South African children of all ages out of schools and crèches for any longer cannot be justified. The paper suggests that children are exponentially more at risk of dying of “regular” causes than of Covid-19 – and that even physical distancing within classrooms should not be enforced.

President Cyril Ramaphosa marked Youth Day by calling on young people to lead the country’s economic recovery and challenge inequality. Opposition parties lamented the challenges young people continue to face 44 years after the Soweto Uprising, says Greg Nicolson.

Some encouraging news from the UK: a cheap and widely used steroid called dexamethasone has become the first drug shown to save the lives of Covid-19 patients in what scientists said was a “major breakthrough” in the coronavirus pandemic, reports Reuters.

A close-up of a box of Dexamethasone tablets in the UK. Results of a trial have shown that Dexamethasone, a cheap and widely used steroid drug which is used to reduce inflammation, reduced death rates by around a third in the most severely ill Covid-19 patients who were admitted to hospital.(Photo: Matthew Horwood / Getty Images)

Equal Education and SECTION27 discussed learning during Covid-19 and the key challenges within the education sector affecting South Africa’s youth, writes Shani Reddy. Chief among these were the reinstatement of the school nutrition program as well as the difficulties of remote tuition.

The Northern Cape Health Department has come under fire from Nehawu, the DA, residents and healthcare workers for not testing enough and dragging its feet in its Covid-19 response. Refilwe Mekoa and Alicestine October investigate for Spotlight.

From presidential “loose use of language”, the secrecy of records of Cabinet, or the National Coronavirus Command Council, to fair administrative justice. All these issues were argued before the Western Cape High Court on Monday in another legal challenge to the Covid-19 lockdown, writes Marianne Merten

Estelle Ellis reports that a remorseful Dr Thobile Mbengashe says he deeply regrets what happened at Livingstone Tertiary Hospital in Nelson Mandela Bay when a strike caused the casualty unit to shut down. Doctors struggled to access even basic drugs as nurses and cleaners downed tools amid critical staff shortages.

According to Ed Stoddard, Discovery, South Africa’s largest health insurance administrator, expects normalised full-year earnings to the end of June 2020 to fall 20% to 30% as it sets aside more than R3-billion as provision for future Covid-19 impacts, potentially lasting into 2022. DM/MC

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