Peter Smanjak

Lockdown Extended April End in the US – What is In Store for SA?

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The New York Times reports that the US president, facing grim figures from his health advisers, starkly reversed an earlier upbeat assessment that the country could relax the guidelines by Easter.

The article refers to Dr. Anthony S. Fauci, the nation’s leading infectious disease expert, had said he and other public health officials had urged President Trump not to relax the guidelines too soon. Dr. Fauci — who in television appearances earlier in the day had offered the estimate of 200,000 dead — said President Trump was affected by those predictions.

“The idea that we may have these many cases played a role in our decision in trying to make sure that we don’t do something prematurely and pull back when we should be pushing,” Dr. Fauci said. He said extending the guidelines until April 30 was a “wise and prudent decision” that President Trump reached after discussions over several days with health officials

President Trump announced that all Americans must continue to avoid nonessential travel, going to work, eating at bars and restaurants, or gathering in groups of more than 10 for at least another month and perhaps until June.

The recommendation, which the president made in the White House Rose Garden, came just a day before the end of a two-week period in which the world’s largest economy has largely shut down with staggering consequences: businesses shuttered, schools and colleges emptied, and social life all but suspended.

With the escalating infections in New York, all people have been issued with stay-at-home orders in order to contain the spread of Covid-19.

The coronavirus pandemic has infected more than 771,500 people, according to official counts. As of Tuesday morning, at least 37,084 people have died, and the virus has been detected in at least 171 countries.

Spain has reported more than 812 new deaths on Monday, bringing the country’s death toll to nearly 7,400. Spanish officials said on Monday that they would impose even more rigorous restrictions on residents’ movements.

The officials are implementing the tighter restrictions similar to those imposed in the Chinese city of Wuhan, where the virus was first detected last year. Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez of Spain said at the weekend that the tighter lockdown was needed to avoid the collapse of already saturated hospitals in Madrid and a few other regions of the country.

Now they are trying desperately to slow down the number of people in hospitals and in the intensive care units. There is currently too much pressure not the health system. This could be similar situation to what South Africa could face if social distancing is not taking seriously in the informal settlements.

In Britain, it is said that it could be six months or more before a return to normal, with lockdowns being reassessed every three weeks.

The greatest risk right now is the exposure of doctors and health workers and them getting sick. In emergency rooms and intensive care units medical professionals are feeling panicked as numbers round the globe are increasing. Medical workers still have to show to work with the overflowing emergency rooms.

In China, more than 3,000 doctors were infected, nearly half of them in Wuhan, where the pandemic began, according to Chinese government statistics. Li Wenliang, the Chinese doctor who first tried to raise the alarm about Covid-19, eventually died of it.

In Italy, the number of infected heath care workers is twice the Chinese total, and the National Federation of Orders of Surgeons and Dentists has compiled a list of 50 who have died. Around 14 percent of Spain’s coronavirus cases are medical professionals.

The SA government needs to take every measure to protect health workers across the spectrum. Proper risk mitigation strategies are vital at this stage. In our research this is a concern as we are not seeing how the government is taking extra precautions while stocks begin to run low.

South Africa will have to be careful that trying to return to normal life too quickly risks allowing the virus to rage, increasing the likelihood of more infections or recurring infections and raising the number of deaths.

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