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Weekly News 19 October 2020

Western Cape on high alert for more super-spreader events

Business Day 19 October 2020 - Jump in Covid-19 cases traced to a big party at a nightclub in Claremont

By October 15, the Western Cape health department had traced 89 cases of Covid-19 to an event at the Tin Roof nightclub in Claremont 12 days earlier, 38 of them grade 12 pupils who have been forced to defer writing their matric examination and may well have scotched their university plans.  

Health minister Zweli Mkhize and his wife test positive for Covid-19

Business Day 18 October 2020 - The minister, who has been at the forefront of SA’s efforts to manage the coronavirus pandemic, is in quarantine at home with his wife, Dr May Mkhize

Mkhize has been at the forefront of SA’s efforts to manage the coronavirus pandemic, and is the fifth cabinet minister to test positive for Covid-19. 

‘Bogus’ dentist nabbed at Dunkeld West Centre denied bail

The Star 14 October 2020 - The ’bogus’ dentist who had been operating for two years though he is not registered with the Health Professions Council of South Africa (HPCSA), has been denied bail.

Vladimir Jovanovic was arrested on Friday at Dr Abram Behr Fait’s dental practice in Dunkeld West Centre. This was after the HPCSA said he was found to have practising as a dentist at the practice since 2018 while Dr Fait had not been practising there from March this year.  

Scientific rigour not at risk amid the race for a coronavirus vaccine

Business Day 14 October 2020 - Both Eli Lilly and J&J have paused trials, but this is normal in all trials, says one doctor, who would be worried if it didn’t happen

The sprint to find medical breakthroughs to contain Covid-19 stumbled this week, as a pair of pharmaceutical giants working to develop treatments and vaccines suffered setbacks in the clinic. On Tuesday, Eli Lilly said that enrolment in a government-sponsored clinical trial of its antibody therapy had been paused out of safety concerns. That came less than 24 hours after Johnson & Johnson said research on its experimental vaccine was paused after a study volunteer fell ill.  

Mystery doctor on MAC allegedly has bogus qualifications

Medical Brief 14 October 2020 - A doctor who President Cyril Ramaphosa is claimed to have recommended Health Minister Zweli Mkhize appoint to the Ministerial Advisory Committee on Covid-19 is believed to have bogus qualifications and no medical experience, reports Sunday Independent.

When Dr Ringane ka Seme was named as “external advisory” on “Health and Presidency”, a whistle-blower tipped off the Department of Health about Ringane ka Seme’s bogus qualifications and a “top secret” report was compiled that states .. 

SA’s Biovac in talks to make vaccines for Covid-19

Business Day 14 October 2020 - The Biovac Institute could produce up to 30-million doses of Covid-19 vaccines a year, CEO Morena Makhoana says

A company partly-owned by the government is in talks with the global Covid-19 vaccine distribution scheme and pharmaceutical companies to produce some of the vaccines SA needs to protect itself against the disease. 

Health minister seeking new legal powers to contain disease outbreaks

Business Day 13 October 2020 - If approved, the amended regulations would give Zweli Mkhize the power to implement same stringent restrictions imposed to curb coronavirus pandemic

The intention is to create an alternative legal instrument to the regulations now in force under the state of disaster declared in terms of the Disaster Management Act. The proposed amendments give the minister power to order the complete or partial closure of schools and teaching institutions, ban public gatherings, limit travel and order people to be placed in quarantine. 

Trial launched to test MMR vaccine against Covid-19

Business Day 13 October 2020 - SA researchers are investigating tried and tested vaccines used for childhood immunisation to see if they can provide a stopgap measure

SA’s medicines regulator has given researchers the green light to investigate whether the childhood vaccine for measles, mumps and rubella (MMR) can protect healthcare workers from Covid-19. 

Covid-19 can strike the same person twice, and it can be worse

Business Day 13 October 2020 - A 25-year-old man living in Nevada, US became infected with two different genetic variants of the SARS-CoV-2 virus in less than two months

The research, published in the Lancet medical journal, examined the case of a 25-year-old man living in Nevada who became infected with two different genetic variants of the SARS-CoV-2 virus in less than two months. He tested negative twice in between, meaning he’s unlikely to have suffered a single prolonged infection. 

Hotspots of resurgent Covid erode faith in ‘herd immunity’

Times 12 October 2020 - Infection rates rise again in cities where some hoped a form of protection had been achieved

For a short time the Brazilian city of Manaus, in the heart of the Amazon rainforest, offered a glimmer of hope in the search for herd immunity from Covid-19. After a devastating wave in May killed about 3,400 people and infected many more, the prevalence of the virus subsided rapidly, leading some scientists to theorise that the city of 2-million had reached a form of collective immunity. That hypothesis is now in doubt. 

KZN health department closes most of its Covid-19 field hospitals

Times 12 October 2020 - The KwaZulu-Natal health department has closed most of its temporary field hospitals that were erected to help permanent facilities cope with Covid-19 patients.

Health MEC Nomagugu Simelane-Zulu told journalists on Sunday that the majority had been shut, with the exception of the temporary or alternative structures which had put into permanent facilities.