Friday, 27 March 2020

Pretoria: To date, South Africa has 1 170 cases of Coronavirus, with one confirmed death. This is an increase of 243 new cases from yesterday’s announcement. The total number of tests conducted to date is 28 537.

Reported deaths:

“This morning we reported that two deaths had occurred as a result of the COVID-19 virus. The first patient was a 48 year old female who tested positive for COVID-19 on the 23rd March 2020. She was suffering from pulmonary embolism. This means she had an underlying disease,”

The second patient who died was a suspected case based on her clinical presentation. The clinicians who were treating her have reported to us that this was a 28 year old female who had presented at the hospital in respiratory distress,”

”At the time of presentation she was hypoxic. She was intubated and transferred to hospital during the early hours of this morning, (ie 27 March 2020 at 3am). On arrival in ICU, she was declared dead,”

”The clinical picture was suggestive of COVID-19 and therefore a test was conducted. Her laboratory results have since been received at 17:20 and were confirmed negative. Her immediate family was also tested and they are also negative. She is therefore no longer considered a COVID-19 case,”

This therefore means there is only one confirmed death caused by COVID-19 in South Africa. I have been informed that the health workers that managed this patient have been debriefed and counselled. I am aware that the public interest around COVID-19 may end up making them feel like they did not perform their duties with outmost care,”

”As a clinician myself, I want reassure them that making such a diagnosis on presentation is line with our plea to them to keep a high index of suspicion so as not to miss a diagnosis of COVID-19. This is common practice, medical doctors often make a diagnosis based on a clinical presentation and physical examination of a patient. They then conduct further tests to confirm or disprove the diagnosis.” said Minister Mkhize.

Country synopsis:

A synopsis of what is currently occurring in the country in relation to confirmed COVID-19 patients:

  • Total number of patients in hospitals (both public and private) : 55
  • Total number of patients in ICU : 4
  • Total number of patients in ventilation : 3
  • Total number of recoveries : 31
  • Contacts of the patients that have been identified : 4407
  • Contacts of the patients that have been traced : 3465

Clinical obsevations that are of concern:

1. The infection of people with underlying concomitant diseases is increasing. This is well illustrated by the COVID-19 patient that has passed away in the Western Cape.

”We therefore urge our citizens to be vigilant, protect themselves and not unnecessarily expose themselves by making contact with a lot of people. It is important to remain in your home, create a distance between yourself and anyone, including family members, that are unwell,” said Minister Mkhize.

These are some of the underlying medical diseases that make people vulnerable:

  • HIV Positive people with a low CD4 count: This therefore emphasises the importance everyone to know their status, get tested and immediately start treatment should they test positive.
  • Chronic Lung Diseases, including TB,
  • Asthma and COPD
  • Auto Immune Diseases of Any Kind
  • Chronic Kidney Diseases
  • Cancer
  • Diabetes

2. Other population groups that are vulnerable are:

  • Smokers & dependant alcohol consumers.

“We encourage smokers to quit smoking and for those who drink alcohol, to do so moderately,” said Minister Mkhize.

3. The elderly population in our society is vulnerable. To illustrate this, in KwaZulu-Natal, one of the confirmed cases is an 81 year old female who is now in ICU and in a ventilator.

She was initially presented with pneumonia and was admitted and treated as such. Because of the severity of the pneumonia, she was tested for COVID-19 and was confirmed. This elderly woman lives in an old age home.

As a result, all other elderly people from this old age home are regarded as being vulnerable and are being tested. Those who will test positive will then be put in isolation.

4. There is an increase in the rate of internal transmissions. Patients without a history of travelling abroad have been detected in many provinces. The Free State province is such an example. The majority of 61 patients infected arose from the church conference which had five international visitors who subsequently tested positive for COVID-19.

”Amongst these, were various local church leaders who have since tested positive for COVID 19, thus making their own church members direct contacts. These church members have had to be screened and tested. The church leaders and members who were tested have since been put in quarantine” said Minister of Health.

”It must be noted that these confirmed cases in the Free State province are concentrated in Mangaung and this requires dedicated focus of interventions,”

”All the above factors have emphasised the need to rapidly expand testing, early detection and early treatment. We are intensifying the offensive.” concluded Dr Zwelini Mkhize,
Minister of Health.