CORONAVIRUS DAILY DIGEST #120

Tributes for Eastern Cape’s Prof Pepeta, young mother and baby overcome coronavirus and KZN pledges boost for school feeding programme

By Christi Nortier 11 August 2020

Compilation image by Sahra Heuwel.

On Tuesday, tributes continued to flow for Professor Lungile Pepeta who died of Covid-19 complications over the weekend. In Cape Town, a team of healthcare workers pulled together to save the life of a young mother with Covid-19 and that of her unborn baby. Meanwhile, the KwaZulu-Natal education department has promised to spend millions on mobile kitchens to support the reboot of the National School Nutrition Programme.

Scroll through the gallery below to view the latest Covid-19 numbers available on 11 August at the district level. All maps are sourced from provincial health departments. Limpopo, the Eastern Cape and the Free State did not provide an update by the time of publishing:

More than 180 healthcare workers have died from Covid-19 and a further 24,000 have been infected in South Africa. As Mark Heywood writes in an editorial:

“…181 is not just a number, a dry statistic of death; it is a number composed of people of flesh, blood and soul; the dead are loved mothers and fathers, loved sons and daughters, breadwinners, mentors. People like Lungile Pepeta had very big dreams and ambitions, not just for themselves, but for the people they serve and for the profession of medicine.”

Celebrate our Healthcare Workers: Honour their sacrifices by adopting their Values 

On Tuesday, outpourings of adoration continued to flow in the wake of Professor Pepeta’s death – “A beloved doctor blessed with the sharpest of minds and the biggest of hearts”. Pepeta died of Covid-19 related complications on Friday 7 August at Life St George’s Hospital. The paediatric cardiologist was the executive dean of the Nelson Mandela University’s faculty of health sciences. In a tribute, Estelle Ellis writes:

“Covid-19 has dealt the Eastern Cape a devastating blow. It took away a doctor who fiercely advocated for the health of the province’s children, a man who bravely fought to open a medical school for rural doctors, an advocate who fearlessly battled and offended many politicians in his mission to achieve excellence in public healthcare.”

Read the tribute in full here.

Callan Jacobs was a healthy 19-year-old woman with no pre-existing health conditions, but her life – and that of her unborn baby – was put on the line when she contracted Covid-19. At the height of her illness, she was on a ventilator with six specialists and a team of support staff caring for her for 11 days.

The team worked around the clock to keep her breathing while battling numerous interlinked health complications. With the help and care of this team and her family, Jacobs has recovered and her baby has flourished. Still, her doctor keeps a watchful eye. Shani Reddy spoke to Jacobs and the medical team about “turning the Covid-19 tide, one life at a time”.

Turning the Covid-19 tide, one life at a time

The Scientists Collective has written a third expert advisory – this week, the focus is on Covid-19 and antibody tests. If you missed it, see their first advisory on isolation and quarantine and their second on Covid-19 and disinfecting.

Testing for Covid-19? All you need to know about antibody tests

How has South Africa fared in the first 150 days of the Covid-19 pandemic? If President Cyril Ramaphosa’s scorecard is anything to go by, then it’s patchy, writes Ferial Haffajee. She unpacks why he is faced with the choice of either fixing South Africa or the ANC – because he can’t do both.

Fix South Africa or fix the ANC – Ramaphosa can’t do both

The Bonteheuwel-Joint Peace Forum Community Action Network has been hard at work to temporarily convert a much-loved community centre into a Covid-19 self-isolation site. During lockdown, the centre was badly damaged by vandals. The Community Action Network fundraised and volunteered to fix up the centre themselves and put it to use to benefit the community while gatherings are still prohibited. They were assisted by the centre’s management and the Rondebosch Collective Action Network.

They are just about ready to accept their first “resident”, but have been accused by DA ward councillor Angus McKenzie of “hijacking” the facility for “an ANC project”. The Collective Action Network has rejected these claims as a “gross misrepresentation of the truth”. 

Bonteheuwel community group takes flak from DA councillor for their Covid-19 relief efforts

On Tuesday, grade 7 and 12 pupils returned to the classroom. However, the National Association of School Governing Bodies says schools are still in the dark over how they should manage accommodating teachers with comorbidities. 

Meanwhile, the KwaZulu-Natal Education Department has said it will spend R50-million to buy 300 mobile kitchens to support the National School Nutrition Programme in the province. Education MEC Kwazi Mshengu said he has instructed officials to “negotiate prices so that they are market-related” and says the kitchens will be rolled out between August and December 2020. DM/MC

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