Exponential spread of Covid-19 unavoidable

todayApril 14, 2020 7

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South Africa can not escape the worst of the Covid-19 pandemic.

This is according to the chairperson of the ministerial advisory group on Covid-19, epidemiologist professor Salim Abdool Karim. Speaking in Durban on Monday night during a live ZOOM public engagement, he said the country’s population would be at high risk again after the nationwide lockdown. President Cyril Ramaphosa has extended the nationwide lockdown which came into effect on March 26 midnight, by a further 14 days.

Karim stressed that although government had done fairly well in its efforts to slow down the spread of the virus, exponential spread was simply an unavoidable reality.

“No,Not unless SA has a special protective factor (mojo) not present anywhere else in the world”

The chairperson also raised several issues of concern, among those being the number of HIV positive citizens who are not on Antiretroviral therapy (ART) as well as TB patients. He also spoke of the change in season and debunked the myth that the virus could not survive in hot temperatures.

“Based on the evidence that we have seen so far, this notion that  that our summers will protect us, and that this virus won’t survive our heat and humidity, has simply proven not to be an accurate situation. The virus survives quite well at 37 degrees Celsius, which is our body, it grows in fact in our lungs at that temperature. So we know it survives well in a wide range of temperatures.”

He argued that there should be a voluntary partial lockdown until the end of September just for old people above 60 and those with co-morbidities to reduce exposure.

Importance of the current lockdown

-Time to flatten the curve even more

-South Africa has a unique component to its response,ie, active case finding

-Only South Africa has>28 000 community health care workers going house-to-house in vulnerable communities for screening & testing to find cases

-New quicker and simpler diagnostics becoming available

-New treatments become available

-Time to prepare the medical care needs

Professor Karim added that the next stage of community transmission interpretation was critical and that an average of above 90 daily cases would warrant an extension of the lockdown. The country’s number of confirmed cases stand at 2272 with 27 deaths.



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