In Episode 68 of Inside Covid-19, a rational perspective on the plateauing of coronavirus infections cases in South Africa from Discovery Health CEO Dr Ryan Noach with a warning that although we’ve peaked, complacency will be costly; Yusuf Abramjee, founder of Tax Justice SA, shares a compelling argument on the eve of a historic High Court action bidding to end the ban on tobacco sales; and we track down Sygnia’s founder Magda Wierzycka, who, after bringing a slice of the Oxford University Covid-19 vaccine company to South Africans, will tomorrow launch a health innovation investment fund. – Alec Hogg
In today’s Covid-19 headlines:
- Official data continues to suggest that the peak of South Africa’s pandemic is behind us, with distinct declines now evident in both infections and mortalities. On Monday, the country reported 5,377 new cases, the fifth successive decline and the lowest for any day since June 23 – that’s six weeks ago. Active cases, which offset new infections with recoveries, have now fallen in seven of the last eight days. On Monday South Africa’s active cases stood at just over 150,000, well down on the peak of 173,500 set two weeks earlier. The country’s mortality rate remains well below the norm, with South Africa’s 516,000 total cases ranked 5th of any country, but its 8,500 deaths only 17th on the global list. With 358,000 South Africans having formally recovered from the virus, the country ranks 5th in the world on this measure. Globally, total cases rose past 18.5m today with total deaths hitting 700,000.
- It’s not only in South Africa where deep rifts have been created over the management of the pandemic. Today New York City’s health commissioner, Dr Oxiris Barbot, resigned over what she believes was the incompetence of the city’s high profile mayor Bill de Blasio. She complained that instead of being at the strategic centre of the response, what she called her Department’s “incomparable disease control expertise” was left in the background. Included in the sleights against Dr Barbot’s unit was the mayor’s decision to take away its responsibility for contact tracing, which the Health Department has managed for decades, and give the responsibility to public hospitals, which had never done this before.
- Good news, at least for some of those experiencing lockdown-inspired cabin fever. South African National Parks today announced that accommodation at most of its establishments will re-open on the 14th. On the downside, visitors will only be allowed from within the province – interprovincial leisure travel, one of numerous regulations criticised as irrational, is still prohibited. To enforce this rule, guests will be required to provide proof of residence. Another much criticised regulation, the ban on tobacco sales, will be challenged in the Western Cape High court tomorrow.
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