People, don’t panic.
Yesterday, news broke of South Africa’s first confirmed case of coronavirus, or COVID-19. It is believed that the infected man is at his home in Hilton, near Pietermaritzburg, in KZN.
Naturally, the news spread rapidly, and it wasn’t long before memes and misinformation began to spread.
What is it with aunties and just forwarding on everything they receive as if it’s the gospel truth? This may be the time to sit down with your family members and explain the benefits of using Google before hitting ‘forward to all’.
You can also send them this link, which is a real-time tracker of confirmed cases of the coronavirus.
Anyway, we digress, because let’s find out who is most likely to die.
Normally, I wouldn’t trust the Daily Mail, who love to make use of ‘inside sources’ and ‘someone close to the family’ to manufacture stories, but this time they’re relying on information from the World Health Organisation:
Men are 65 per cent more likely to die from coronavirus, new analysis has revealed – despite the gender balance for those testing positive being roughly split in half.
Figures from the World Health Organisation and Chinese scientists has revealed that 1.7 per cent of woman who catch the virus will die compared to 2.8 per cent of men…
To the table, we go:
The rest of that article is drivel, not based on information from the World Health Organisation, so moving on…
Some of the stats above are likely to induce the sweats, but let’s balance things out a touch.
Via Bhekisa, an independent media organisation that specialises in journalism focusing on health and social justice issues across Africa, a few good reasons to ‘keep calm and don’t panic’:
South Africa’s summer might help to slow down the spread of the virus because of COVID-19’s inability to survive in high temperatures, explains Shaheen Mehtar, who leads the national health department’s coronavirus infection prevention and control programme. Mehtar also sits on the WHO coronavirus expert group.
Currently, scientists think that when the virus leaves the body — for instance, when people cough, propelling droplets of virus-carrying saliva onto their hands or surfaces — COVID-19 dies in temperatures of about 24 or 25 °C.
“The virus is very sensitive to heat,” she explains, “so [our current] temperatures are basically too high for the virus.”
She says: “Even if one or two people get infected the spread of it is not going to be very good because the virus doesn’t like heat.”
This does not mean you shouldn’t take precautions, like fastidiously washing your hands (the OCD people out there are vindicated!) and coughing into your elbow.
We know that South Africans quarantined in Wuhan, China, are due to return home soon, and our Health Department, whilst a little at sea on Twitter at times, is erring on the side of caution:
The country’s 21-day quarantine stretches far beyond that and those arriving from China have shown no symptoms of the virus. Plus, they’ve already spent about six weeks under quarantine in China where they have been repeatedly tested for COVID-19, explains Mehtar..
Mehtar stressed that South Africans should not panic about the new coronavirus. “I am not concerned about South Africa just at the moment.”
Yes, deep breaths.
Let’s hear from Dr Kerrigan McCarthy, a specialist pathologist from the NCID:
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