By Gaby Ndongo and Buyeleni Sibanyoni (5 mins read)
An overall of 31 (6.1%) of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) deaths are of people between the ages of 10-39, according to the figures released yesterday by the National Department of Health.
South Africa’s National Youth Commission Act, 1996, describes youth as those between the ages of 14-35 years. As of Monday, 25th May 2020, the country reported 23,615 cases, 481 deaths, 11,917 recoveries, and 11,217 active cases, according to a tally by The Open Journal.
Zero death has been recorded for people aged 10-19, while four deaths (0,5%) were registered in the age group of 20-29 and twenty-seven fatalities (5,6%) for those aged 30-39. Regarding the total number of deaths, males account for 258 deaths (53,6%), females make up 222 fatalities (46,2%) and 1 death (0,2%) is still unknown.
Although people of all ages can be infected by the virus, the World Health Organisation (WHO) says that “older people, and people with pre-existing medical conditions (such as asthma, diabetes, heart disease) appear to be more vulnerable to becoming severely ill with the virus”.
The WHO named COVID-19 a pandemic on 11th March 2020. According to the global health body, “the most common symptoms of COVID-19 are fever, dry cough, and tiredness.
“Other symptoms that are less common and may affect some patients include aches and pains, nasal congestion, headache, conjunctivitis, sore throat, diarrhea, loss of taste or smell or a rash on skin or discoloration of fingers or toes. These symptoms are usually mild and begin gradually. Some people become infected but only have very mild symptoms.”
To curtail the spread of the virus, the South African government is conducting community screening and testing. These methods are coupled with a country-wide lockdown that began on 27th March. The lockdown consists of five levels. Its fifth level ended on 31st April, allowing for the fourth level to start on 1st May.
Lockdown level 3: “your actions … will determine the fate of our nation”
On Sunday, 24th May, president Cyril Ramaphosa said that the country will be moving into level 3 of the nation-wide lockdown. “Now as we enter the next phase of our struggle against the coronavirus, it is once again your actions that will determine the fate of our nation,” said Ramaphosa.
The level 3 lockdown, among other measures, will declare areas with new, rapidly increasing infections as coronavirus hotspots. Metros that have been so far declared as hotspots are the City of Tshwane, City of Johannesburg, Ekurhuleni, Ethekwini, Nelson Mandela Bay, Buffalo City and Cape Town.
Other areas include the West Coast, Overberg and Cape vineland district municipalities in the Western Cape province, Chris Hani district in the Eastern Cape province and iLembe district in the KwaZulu Natal province. The City of Cape Town and the Western Cape have more than half of the total infections.
“A fulltime team of experienced personnel will be assigned to each hotspot,” said Ramaphosa. Hotspots will be reviewed every two weeks and then decisions will be made of whether they should be kept in the same level, move up or down the alert levels.
- People can now exercise at any time during the day but should not be in groups.
- Alcohol will be sold during specific days and only be allowed to be consumed at home. The relevant department will issue out further instructions.
- The sale of tobacco is still banned.
- Restaurants, bars, taverns, accommodation and domestic air travels, personal care services such as hairdressing and beauty services, cultural, sporting, entertainment and recreational exhibitions will remain closed.
- Large gatherings are still banned.
- The number of people allowed at a funeral remain at 50.
- Most sectors of the economy will reopen. Wholesale and retail trader will be fully opened, and e-commerce will continue to remain open.
- All staff older than 60 years and suffering from underlying conditions should work at home. People who are able to work at home should work at home.
- It is mandatory to have a mask on when using public transport.
- Schools will reopen on the 1st of June 2020 but only for grade 7 and 12 learners as previously stated by the minister of basic education, Angie Motshekga. “I must stress that no parent will be forced to send their child to school if they are worried about safety,” said Ramaphosa.
- From Monday, 1st June 2020, all public universities will start implementing remote teaching and learning to save the 2020 academic year. TOJ
Reporting by Gaby Ndongo and Buyeleni Sibanyoni. Editing by Kupakwashe Kambasha. Feature image by Brian McGowan on Unsplash.