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First COVID-19 Deaths in South Africa; Both Young

Government confirms first two coronavirus-related deaths on day one of SA’s lockdown.

Two women from the Western Cape – a 28-year-old who was admitted to hospital on Thursday and a 48-year-old who has been in ICU, are the first two confirmed deaths of the Covid-19 virus in South Africa.

This was confirmed by Western Cape Premier Alan Winde on Friday morning, following a brief statement earlier in the morning by Health Minister Zweli Mkhize, who also noted that the number of verified Covid-19 cases in the country “have tipped the 1 000-mark.”

Speaking to Moneyweb, Winde says it is very sad news for the province and South Africa. He adds that it highlights why citizens need to take the situation and the lockdown more seriously.

“The fact that these two women were relatively young – one being in her twenties and the other in her forties – should serve as a serious warning to South Africans that it is not only the elderly that are at risk. We all need to take responsibility and stay home during this lockdown,” he says.

“With these two deaths being confirmed on the first day of the lockdown in the country, it brings home the seriousness of what we are facing…. It highlights the importance of the lockdown, which I fully support.

“I call on all South Africans to take responsibility for yourselves and for every single citizen around during this time.”

In his statement, Mkhize said: “This morning, we wake South Africans up with sad news that we now have our first deaths resulting from Covid-19. These two deaths occurred in the Western Cape. One at a private hospital and the other at a public hospital.”

The minister added that government would share more details later today, however he noted that the number of cases had increased (from 927) on Thursday to more than 1 000 by Friday morning.

Meanwhile, Winde tells Moneyweb that besides the ages and the fact that the first two deaths in South Africa were women from the Western Cape, he could not currently share further details.

“Minister Mkhize will share more details later today, but the Western Cape already had more than 200 of the 927 confirmed cases in the country on Thursday. The numbers are bound to increase, that’s why we need to do all we can to slow down the spread of the virus through the lockdown and people staying home,” he says.

Gauteng remains the epicentre of the virus in South Africa, with 409 of the 927 confirmed Covid-19 cases on Thursday.

The Western Cape has the second highest number of cases at 229, while KwaZulu-Natal has the third highest with 134 cases. These numbers are expected to be updated later on Friday.

The number of confirmed Covid-19 cases globally has topped the half-a-million mark and US-based Johns Hopkins University now estimates that the US has more suspected and confirmed cases of Covid-19 than China and Italy. The US, China and Italy all have more than 80 000 cases, but Italy still has the highest death toll.

Globally the death toll has surpassed the 23 000-mark.

To track the spread of the virus, visit Microsoft’s map here.

For information as to how Relocation Africa can help you with your Mobility, Immigration, Research, Remuneration, and Expat Tax needs, email info@relocationafrica.com, or call us on +27 21 763 4240.
Sources: [1], [2]. Image sources: CDC [1], [2].

African e-Learning App to Help Fight Coronavirus

Kenya-based NGO Amref Health Africa has launched the Jibu app, a mobile learning platform to provide real-time information and learning opportunities to health workers and medical students.

The organisation acknowledges the role the app could play in helping to curb the spread of Coronavirus (COVID-19).

Users can engage the app to register for courses, take tests and secure certification. It will also be updated with the latest medical treatment and related information to support qualified health workers.

It took developer Rafael Muia a year to design, develop, test, pilot and implement the app, which is now available for both Android and iOS smartphone users to download and use on mobile devices.

The release of the technology could not be more timely, given the worldwide focus – and ongoing reaction to COVID-19.

Muia says: “This is a great app that can be used as a go-to place for up-to-date, authentic COVID-19 information and safety practice on avoidance, prevention and contamination control eLearning content once it is live.”

Currently, more than 2700 health workers across 15 African countries can access 41 courses that have been uploaded and more courses are scheduled to be added on demand and when opportunities arise.

For information as to how Relocation Africa can help you with your Mobility, Immigration, Research, Remuneration, and Expat Tax needs, email info@relocationafrica.com, or call us on +27 21 763 4240.
Sources: [1], [2]. Image sources: Kimberly Farmer [1], [2].

Feeling Anxious About Coronavirus? A UCSF Psychologist Offers Tips to Stay Clearheaded

As cases of the novel coronavirus infection, COVID-19, increase across the U.S., many people may be feeling anxious. UC San Francisco psychologist Elissa Epel, PhD, who studies stress, shared some thoughts about the difference between anxiety and panic, and steps you can take to prevent panic and be prepared.

Some anxiety is normal, but our anxious minds can easily go into panic mode

“The good news about the widespread anxiety is that it is fueling big changes fast—many people in affected areas are being very careful to limit exposure. Anxiety fosters prevention and safeguarding behaviors. Prevention reduces anxiety,” said Epel

“However, when threats are uncertain, such as the current coronavirus situation, our anxious minds can easily overestimate the actual threat and underestimate our ability to cope with it.” Epel noted that people with pre-existing anxiety conditions are particularly vulnerable.

“While some anxiety helps us cope, extreme anxiety can become coronavirus panic. When we are in a panic state, we suffer, we stress out our children, we are more likely to make mistakes and engage in irrational decisions and behavior,” said Epel. Panic can create new problems, such as overbuying that creates supply chain shortages of masks and sanitizers, and xenophobia toward certain groups.

Keep in mind that your anxiety influences those around you, said Epel. “Too much anxiety creates emotion contagion and spreads panic. That’s not helpful.”

Children will naturally have questions about the coronavirus, said Epel, and she pointed to resources to help you talk to your children and help them manage their own anxiety.

Limit media exposure and stick with reliable sources

“It’s tempting to check for updates, but checking several times a day can keep us in an escalated state of anxiety,” said Epel. “We then easily transmit that type of exaggerated anxiety to our children and those around us.” Focusing on catastrophic thoughts and predictions, especially given the examples on social media, can fuel panicky feelings.

Instead, she advises sticking to reliable sources of coronavirus information such as the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

Be informed about the key safety precautions, and be supportive to others, helping them think more calmly about it.

Reduce anxiety by reducing your risk

“Don’t feel silly or embarrassed about taking reasonable precautions,” said Epel. For example, follow the safety advice from the CDC, such as frequent handwashing; stay home if you don’t feel well; get enough sleep and take good care of your immune system. “Preparing a plan for the future, such minimizing exposure to large crowds, makes sense and can help reduce anxiety,” said Epel.

“During this uncertain time, it’s important to keep up your self-care routine, or even add something to it, to reduce your somatic anxiety, the anxiety we store up in our bodies,” said Epel. Consider what helps you most, such as taking a walk in nature, meditating, exercising, or talking to a friend.

“Make time to step back from screens, and make sure to connect with people about things other than just this issue,” said Epel.

About UCSF Psychiatry

The UCSF Department of PsychiatryUCSF Langley Porter Psychiatric Hospital and Clinics, and the Langley Porter Psychiatric Institute are among the nation’s foremost resources in the fields of child, adolescent, adult, and geriatric mental health.

For information as to how Relocation Africa can help you with your Mobility, Immigration, Research, Remuneration, and Expat Tax needs, email info@relocationafrica.com, or call us on +27 21 763 4240.
Sources: [1], [2]. Image sources: CDC [1], [2].

Benin: COVID-19 Status

Authorities in Benin announced on Monday, March 23, that starting from Monday, March 30, quarantines will be put in place around most affected cities, including Cotonou, Abomey-Calavi, Allada, Ouidah, Sèmè-Podji, Porto-Novo, Akpro-Missérété, and Adjarra to limit the spread of the coronavirus (COVID-19). People within these cities will only be allowed to move for essential reasons (health, food supply). As such, all public transportation will be suspended until further notice.

School holidays have been declared from March 30, until Monday, April 13. People are being advised to minimize their movements within the country and to avoid gatherings on public places (beaches, public squares). Land border crossings have also been limited; only necessary crossings agreed with neighbouring countries will be allowed. Strict control measures have been implemented at border checkpoints. Travelers entering Benin by air must undergo a 14-days quarantine.

As of Tuesday, March 24, there five cases of COVID-19 in the country. Further international spread of the virus is to be expected over the near term.

Context
The first case of COVID-19 was reported on December 31 and the source of the outbreak has been linked to a wet market in Wuhan (Hubei province, China). Human-to-human and patient-to-medical staff transmission of the virus have been confirmed. Many of the associated fatalities have been due to pneumonia caused by the virus.

Cases of the virus have been confirmed in numerous countries and territories worldwide. Virus-screening and quarantining measures are being implemented at airports worldwide, as well as extensive travel restrictions. On March 11, the World Health Organization (WHO) declared the global outbreak a pandemic.

Pneumonia symptoms include dry cough, chest pain, fever, and labored breathing. Pneumonia can be contagious and can be transmitted from human to human. The influenza virus, or the flu, is a common cause of viral pneumonia.

Advice
Measures adopted by local authorities evolve quickly and are usually effective immediately. Depending on the evolution of the outbreak in other countries, authorities are likely to modify, at very short notice, the list of countries whose travelers are subject to border control measures or entry restrictions upon their arrival to the territory in question. It is advised to postpone nonessential travel due to the risk that travelers may be refused entry or be subject to quarantine upon their arrival or during their stay.

To reduce the risk of COVID-19 transmission, travelers are advised to abide by the following measures:

• Frequently clean hands by applying an alcohol-based hand rub or washing with soap and water.

• When coughing and sneezing, cover mouth and nose with a flexed elbow or tissue; if used, throw the tissue away immediately and wash hands.

• If experiencing a fever, cough, and difficulty breathing, seek medical care urgently and share your previous travel history with your health care provider.

For information as to how Relocation Africa can help you with your Mobility, Immigration, Research, Remuneration, and Expat Tax needs, email info@relocationafrica.com, or call us on +27 21 763 4240.
Sources: [1], [2]. Image sources: [1], [2].

VFS South Africa Update

Please see below the update that Relocation Africa received from VFS South Africa, detailing the procedures they will be taking during the lock-down.

As recent measures are put into place by our honourable President Ramaphosa to help flatten the curve of the covid-19 pandemic, the following operational plan will be in effect. 

  • Wednesday 25th March 2020 will be the last day of submissions –no critical skills, general work and business visa related applications will be accepted on this day for temporary residence permits only. 
  • Thursday will be the last day for collections, collections times 10:00 to 15:00
  • Any walk-ins that have visa’s expiring tomorrow or during the lockdown will be turned away. We will prioritize scheduled appointments and appeal related applications only. 
  • DHA have authourized all those holding visa’s expiring during the lockdown period commencing tomorrow will not require a good cause letter when we return to full operations.

It is no secret on what we are dealing with, we are all at risk if not dealt with accordingly. We urge you as professionals to reduce crowding in centres as we will be monitoring traffic. 

VFS reopening will be dependent on the department’s decision to be made soon.  Communication will be made via all channels on complete reopening and strategy for submissions. 

Our sincere apologies for the delayed email but discussions had to be made. 

Thank you for understanding and stay safe!

For any queries, please contact VFS directly. You can visit their website here.

For information as to how Relocation Africa can help you with your Mobility, Immigration, Research, Remuneration, and Expat Tax needs, email info@relocationafrica.com, or call us on +27 21 763 4240.
Sources: [1], [2]. Image sources: [1], [2].