Maverick Citizen

CORONAVIRUS WEEKLY DIGEST #11

The race to contain Covid-19 in the Eastern Cape is as while over 1 000 maskless people cram into a single party venue

This week, Health Minister Zweli Mkhize visited Nelson Mandela Bay as Covid-19 cases rose rapidly, the Western Cape government closed sports fields as the Garden Route quickly became a hotspot, and The Scientists Collective said it is time to refamiliarise ourselves with the ins and outs of Covid-19 testing. Meanwhile, more children will go hungry as the government puts an end to the child support top-up grant and Covid-19 corruption is rife Gauteng.

Maverick Citizen’s Coronavirus Daily Digest has changed format to a Coronavirus Weekly Digest. Each Friday, the digest will summarise highlights from the previous week’s news about the Covid-19 pandemic in South Africa.

Estelle Ellis reports that the race is on to get Eastern Cape Covid-19 cases under control before the festive season to prevent further spread across the country. Minister of Health Zweli Mkhize warned on Sunday night that the government is under pressure to get an outbreak of coronavirus infections within the province contained, particularly in Nelson Mandela bay and the surrounding areas.

The Eastern Cape Department of Health has launched an intensified testing and tracing programme in Nelson Mandela Bay after a huge outbreak of coronavirus infections in the metro. The metro’s number of active cases on Wednesday was close to 7 000 after an overnight increase of 903.

Estelle Ellis reports a chilling account of how officers from Nelson Mandela Bay municipality’s metro police found 1 000 maskless late-night revellers crammed into a single party venue in the city, with another 500 outside. Ellis writes that these findings formed part of a report provided to Mkhize on the state of a massive coronavirus outbreak in the area.

Mkhize visited Nelson Mandela Bay on Tuesday, where he asked for statistics relating to injuries and casualty admissions linked to alcohol abuse in the metro. During his visit, Mkhize also expressed concern about delays in health laboratories producing the results of Covid-19 tests.

Sports fields close as Covid-19 cases soar in Garden Route

Head of the Western Cape health department Dr Keith Cloete confirms that sections of the Garden Route are going through a second wave of Covid-19. Now, as the festive season approaches, the provincial government is stepping up efforts to curb the spread of the virus. Suné Payne reports.

More children go hungry as government ends the child support top-up grant

Over seven million caregivers and 13 million children have been plunged deeper into poverty as payouts of the R500 caregiver grant top-up ended in October, while the Special Covid-19 Social Relief of Distress grant was extended. In the final article of a six-part series on child hunger, Kathryn Cleary speaks to mothers, children, and experts about the implications of these decisions.

Covid-19 corruption in Gauteng and National Health Insurance

The Covid-19 corruption story in Gauteng is far from over. As Mark Heywood reports, it is common knowledge that the emergency regulations issued by National Treasury in March 2020 to make it possible to have an expedited response to the Covid-19 crisis opened the floodgates to a wave of corruption, far greater and possibly far more costly than the Covid-19 wave that has officially claimed more than 20 000 lives in South Africa.

Sadly, the corruption does not end there. Estelle Ellis writes that National Health Insurance Fund developer, Dr Nicholas Crisp, acknowledges fears of corruption and maladministration in the proposed fund, predicted to receive up to R3-billion a week once it is in operation. Crisp says they will do all they can to design a corruption-proof system. Though it is never impossible ‘to plunder’, says Crisp, they will try to make it as difficult as possible.

Re-familiarising yourself with Covid-19 testing

Wearing face masks, maintaining physical distance, avoiding poorly ventilated spaces, and isolating if symptoms develop, remain the most important defences against this virus. The Scientists Collective says that now is a good time to re-familiarise ourselves with who, when, why, and how to test for SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes Covid-19.

‘Uniting’ families: Tygerberg Hospital introduces a robot to connect patients with loved ones

A robot called Quintin is helping patients in the ICU connect with their friends and family. A computer tablet on wheels, Quintin is equipped to make video and voice calls, allowing family members to “visit” patients in the ICU. Quintin was developed by Double Robotics and has helped several families to say goodbye to their sick loved ones for the last time.

Biénne Huisman speaks to those who have interacted with Quintin. DM/MC

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