Inside Covid-19: Scary truths about lockdown poverty; busting face-mask myths – Ep 75

In this Inside Covid-19 podcast, hear how South Africa is switching to ‘surveillance mode’ in its efforts to combat Covid-19; plus, the worst seems to be over for the pandemic in the country. We pick up on how Covid-19 containment has been a blunt instrument, causing severe economic strain globally and a deepening poverty crisis in SA. Picking up on this theme is an interview with Gift of the Givers founder Dr Imtiaz Sooliman, who shares the details on how cash has dried up for individuals across all spheres. You might be surprised to learn who is relying on charity. Also catch up with the latest developments on how Covid-19 spreads – you can contract Covid-19 twice, Hong Kong scientists discover – and take advice from Dr Geraldine Timothy, a Public Health Medicines Specialist with Discovery Health, who gives the low-down on face-masks. – Jackie Cameron

In today’s Covid-19 headlines:

  • The Johns Hopkins University Coronavirus Resource Centre shows that nearly 24m people have tested positive for Covid-19. South Africa has the world’s fifth-highest rate of Covid-19 with the number of positive cases edging towards 610,000. About 810,000 people around the world have died of Covid-19, with the United States reporting the highest death rate at around 176,000. Brazil, Mexico, India and the United Kingdom join the US among the countries reporting the worst death rates. South Africa ranks around 13 in the world rankings for deaths.
  • You can contract Covid-19 twice. With scientists and doctors working around the clock to find a vaccine for Covid-19, others are relying on herd immunity and enough individuals being infected to curb the virus, in order for it to slowly wane away. A Hong Kong man – who has previously had Covid-19 and made a recovery – has now been re-infected, in what is the first documented case of a human being re-infected. Cleared of the virus in April, the 33-year old tested positive on August 15th, following a trip to Europe. Bloomberg reported that Hong Kong based surgeon, physician and microbiologist, Kwok-Yung Yuen and his colleagues said “our findings suggest that SARS-CoV-2 may persist in humans” in a recent publication found in the Clinical Infectious Diseases journal. Yuen and his colleagues also found that “SARS-CoV-2 is reminiscent of the coronaviruses that cause the common cold”. They go on to say that Covid-19 may go on, continuing to circulate amongst people “even if patients have acquired immunity via natural infection or via vaccination.”
  • When the only item of clothing is a compulsory face-mask. Over 100 people have tested positive for Covid-19, as an outbreak of the deadly virus fell upon a French naturist retreat, in the coastal town of Cap d’Agde. Local officials have been paying attention to the rapid spread of the virus among the naturist community. Since preventative measures were implemented to contain the virus, the nudist hotspot has experienced a high positive testing rate, with 30% of those tested having the virus.
  • Snorkelling equipment converted to face masks. Doctors at Tygerberg Hospital have come up with an ingenious solution to keeping safe from the dangers of Covid-19. Medical staff at the largest hospital in the Western Cape are now able to make use of specially modified snorkel masks, to prevent the risk of contracting the virus when administering medical assistance to critically ill patients.
  • Busting myths on face masks – Dr Geraldine Timothy, Public Health Medicines Specialist, Discovery Health. In South Africa, wearing a mask in public has been compulsory since the level 5 national lockdown was implemented, in an attempt to curb the virus. Even now, as the country has now entered into a more relaxed lockdown, bars and restaurants are only now allowed to serve alcohol – and have to close at 10pm. Under level 2, funeral services are still not permitted to have more than 50 people, while social gatherings (at private homes) are limited to 10 people. Dr Timothy busts some myths about face masks, in this interview with BizNews.
  • AstraZeneca starts a Covid-19 vaccine trial. Just in: in a brief stock exchange statement AstraZeneca has confirmed that it has begun a phase one trial of an antibody treatment that could be used to protect people from the coronavirus. Up to 48 healthy participants in the UK – aged between 18 to 55 years – will take part in the trial which will evaluate the safety and tolerability of the treatment. Monoclonal antibodies are used where more conventional vaccines are unsuitable, including for people whose natural defences are compromised, for example by chemotherapy. “Synthesised in the laboratory, monoclonal antibodies aim to mimic natural antibodies,” said Astrazeneca. “The treatment has the potential to be given as a preventative option for people exposed to the virus, and to treat and prevent disease progression in patients already infected by the virus.”
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