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Weekly News 11 October 2020

Covid fallout for SA's mental health

Times 10 October 2020 - SADAG’s helpline call volumes have doubled to about 1,400 people a day since the coronavirus pandemic lockdown began in March.

The suicide helpline has seen a 63% increase with more than 65,000 people reaching out, she said. Psychiatrist Frans Korb, chairperson of the SA Mental Health Alliance, said: “Researchers are almost expecting a Tsunami of psychiatric disorders [from Covid-19].” 

Johannesburg records most Covid-19 cases in Gauteng

Times 09 October 2020 - Johannesburg district reported the highest number of new Covid-19 cases in Gauteng on Thursday.

The city also accounts for the highest number of deaths in the province, with 1,763 recorded so far. Just behind it is Ekurhuleni with 1,079 deaths, while Tshwane has 931 reported deaths. So far, 4,386 people have died due to Covid-19 complications in the province. 

Big jump in recent Covid-19 deaths due to reconciling of data: Mkhize

Times 08 October 2020 - The more robust processes make the figures more accurate, the health minister said

SA's recent spike in Covid-19 deaths was due to better verification processes, health minister Dr Zweli Mkhize said on Thursday night. Mkhize announced that there were 160 Covid-19 related fatalities in the past 24 hours, taking the national death toll to 17,408. 

Mkhize: Cubans a ‘saving’ compared to SA specialists

Medical Brief 07 October 2020 - Health minister Zweli Mkhize says the remuneration of the Cuban doctors is actually a “saving” and that he may extend their deployment.

Business Day reports that Mkhize told Parliament that the state has thus far spent close to R120m on the salaries of 187 Cuban doctors who arrived in April to help in the response to COVID-19. Their deployment is scheduled to run until April 2021, costing the state R440m for the 12 months.  

Only 28% of emergency PPE suppliers registered with Sahpra

Medical Brief 07 October 2020 - An analysis shows that only 28% of personal protective equipment (PPE) suppliers that benefited from R2,5bn in emergency pandemic expenditure were licensed by the medical products oversight body.

Scorpio’s months-long data investigation into COVID-19 expenditure reveals that the nine health departments collectively sourced personal protective equipment (PPE) and related goods from 550 companies. Of these suppliers, only 155, or 28%, were licensed by the South African Health Products Regulatory Authority (Sahpra).  

SIU: Corruption is ‘part of health sector’s DNA’

Medical Brief 07 October 2020 - Corruption is rife within South African health sector institutions such as the state laboratory service, the health professions council and the product oversight authority, says the head of the Special Investigations Unit.

“There is corruption in the National Health Laboratory Service (NHLS), there is corruption within the Health Professions Council of South Africa (HPCSA) with the registration of doctors. There is corruption within the health sector product authority when it comes to products entering the market inappropriately,” says Advocate Andy Mothibi, head of the Special Investigating Unit (SIU). 

EFF makes the case for clinics to be open 24/7

Business Day 07 October 2020 - Most state clinics offer services on weekdays between 7am and 4pm, and the National Health Act does not stipulate operating hours

The EFF put its case to parliament on Wednesday for government-funded clinics to be open around the clock, arguing that anything less infringed on people’s constitutional rights to dignity and access to healthcare. 

Second Covid-19 wave could hit Cape Town if people disregard wearing masks

Business Day 07 October 2020 - Mayoral committee member Zahid Badroodien says some residents are no longer wearing masks in public and many businesses are ignoring social distancing protocols

Cape Town’s health department has expressed concern over an increase in nonadherence to safety protocols‚ saying it could lead to a second wave of Covid-19 infections. 

Bill Gates says rich world could be back to normal by late 2021 if vaccine works

Business Day 07 October 2020 - World Health Organisation chief says Covid-19 vaccine may be ready by the end of the year

Rich countries could be back to close to normal by late 2021 if a Covid-19 vaccine works, is ready soon and distributed properly at scale, Microsoft founder Bill Gates said on Tuesday. "By late next year you can have things going back pretty close to normal — that's the best case," Gates told The Wall Street Journal CEO Council.  

FDA sets up committee over emergency vaccine use, bypassing White House

Business Day 06 October 2020 - New requirements will add to the time to review any vaccine, potentially past election day, but the FDA won’t bend to political pressure

The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) plans to have an expert panel review any Covid-19 vaccine application for emergency use, and wants to see at least two months of safety data, according to a document posted by the agency on Tuesday. 

Covid-19 advanced innovation in medical and counselling worlds

Business Day 06 October 2020 - We have never seen so much content from medical schemes created to educate the entire population and not just their members

SA’s response to the Covid-19 pandemic has shown what can be achieved if public and private healthcare sectors collaborate effectively. It’s also highlighted new ways of consulting with primary healthcare providers that could make both sectors more time-efficient and cost-effective. 

Second coronavirus wave likely, but it may be less deadly

Business Day 06 October 2020 - A recent survey in the Western Cape, found 40% of people at government clinics for other care had SARS-Cov-2 antibodies, suggesting there has already been extensive spread of the disease.

A second wave of coronavirus infections in SA is likely to be less deadly than the first, according to the expert co-ordinating the Actuarial Society of SA’s (Assa) modelling work on Covid-19.