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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].

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].

South Africa’s Lock-down Explained

South Africa will be going into a 21-day national lock-down, beginning at midnight on Thursday 26th March. To clarify, Thursday will be the final “normal” workday for South Africans, and the lock-down will begin on Thursday night. The lock-down will end at midnight on Thursday 16th April, so the first standard workday will be Friday 17th April.

President Cyril Ramaphosa has made exceptions for certain businesses to remain open during the lock-down period, including drug stores, grocery stores, and banks. While people may be panic buying at present, the government has assured everyone that this is not necessary, as normal the supply of goods will remain during the period.

The South African Police Service (SAPS) and South African National Defense Force (SANDF) will be patrolling to ensure that the lock-down rules are adhered to. This is South Africa’s opportunity to “flatten the curve” – stemming the rapid spread of COVID-19. If we work together, we can reduce the infection rate, and work towards restoring normality.

Anyone found to be breaking the rules of the lock-down could be imprisoned. Please follow the President’s instructions and remain at home.

To track the spread of the virus, click here. And for information about coronavirus from the WHO, click here. Below are some infographics explaining the SA lock-down.

Please note that Relocation Africa staff will be working from home during the lock-down period. Our landline will be down, but we will be contactable via email.

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].

COVID-19: An African Update

As COVID-19 spreads across the world, and concerns grow, we’ve decided to provide an update from an African perspective.

South Africans repatriated from Wuhan

President Cyril Ramaphosa on Tuesday hailed the South African team travelling to Wuhan, China, on a repatriation mission, as heroes who carry the pride and hope of the nation. The team comprising members of the South African National Defence Force (SANDF) and a medical team from the Department of Health left for Wuhan, the epicenter of the Coronavirus outbreak, from OR Tambo International Airport, last night.

“This is an important mission for the country. We are so proud of your commitment. We thank you for doing it for the country. I want you to go out there knowing that you are carrying the whole country,” President Ramaphosa said. He told the excited team that they are not going alone, but they are traveling with God. President Ramaphosa used the opportunity to allay the fears of South Africans, saying that the people that the team is going to repatriate, are not sick.

“This team is going to fetch people who are well. We will keep screening them to check if we cannot find someone who got an infection, if there are, we will take them out for treatment,” President Ramaphosa said. Prior to bidding farewell to the team, President Ramaphosa, accompanied by Health Minister, Dr Zweli Mkhize and Defence and Military Veterans Minister, Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula, conducted a walkabout at the OR Tambo International Airport.

The walkabout showed the President the state of readiness at the airport in case of any arrivals from Coronavirus countries. The President was also shown a clinic at the airport were patients are treated. Government initially received more than 180 requests from South Africans in Wuhan to be repatriated to South Africa, but more than 60 of them subsequently changed their minds and decided to remain in China.

Government will now repatriate 122 South Africans from the epicentre of the coronavirus outbreak in Wuhan, China. Minister Mkhize also emphasized that none of the South Africans in China have Coronavirus but said they will still be quarantined and tested as part of health requirements when they arrive back home from Wuhan. Mkhize thanked the team for their willingness to assist in the repatriation. “I would like to thank you for assisting in the repatriation. You are doing this for the country,” he said.

A member of the team, a medical doctor from the Department of Health, Dr Ahmed Bam, told SAnews that he is proud to be taking part on this important mission. “I’m very honored to be given the opportunity to serve the people of my country,” he said. Asked if he is not afraid of contracting the virus, he confidently said that will not happen as they are well prepared and taking all the precautionary measures into account.

“My duty is to save lives and that’s exactly what I am going to do,” he said, adding that he is proud to serve the country and that he is prepared to do anything to save lives. Dr Bam said saving lives is what he does and that to him is his calling.

COVID-19 in South Africa

The number of Coronavirus cases in South Africa has risen to 13, after six more new cases were confirmed on Wednesday. As a precaution, the Department of Health has embarked on a rigorous campaign of tracing every person the 13 individuals have been in contact with since returning to South Africa.

Some of the identified patients had shown symptoms, while others had not. However, they have all been placed on self-quarantine at home or have been admitted to hospital.

Our Managing Director recently returned to Cape Town, South Africa, from a trip to Europe, and the only place she saw people being tested for COVID-19 was at our own Cape Town International Airport. You can see the testing taking place in the video below.

First Case in DRC

The Ministry of Public Health in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) has reported the country’s first case of COVID-19. Health authorities said tests found that a Congolese national, who had recently returned to Kinshasa from his residence in France had tested positive for the virus.

The DRC is one of eleven countries in Africa to have confirmed a case of COVID-19. The other countries are: Algeria, Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Egypt, Morocco, Nigeria, South Africa, Senegal, Togo and Tunisia. This comes as the country’s largest Ebola outbreak appears to be winding down, with no new cases of the disease confirmed in the past 21 days.

“It is sad to hear that just as the DRC appears to be near ending its worst Ebola outbreak, a new virus is threatening the health of its citizens,” said Dr Matshidiso Moeti, World Health Organization (WHO) Regional Director for Africa. “However, some of the readiness efforts put in place during the Ebola outbreak may help the country respond to COVID-19. WHO is here to support you, just as we continue to do in the Ebola response.”

Tracking the spread

To track the spread of the virus on a live map, made by researchers at Johns Hopkins University, click here.

Staying healthy

To see a list of things the World Health Organization recommends to protect yourself as best as possible, click here. The list includes practicing social distancing, washing your hands frequently, practicing good respiratory hygiene, and seeking medical care as soon as possible if you experience symptoms.

Plans for the workplace

US HR consultancy Mercer has published a 10-point guide for planning around the virus for your workplace. To read the guide, click 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], [3]. Image sources: [1], [2].

Busting Coronavirus Myths

The Citizen recently reported on some myths surrounding the coronavirus (COVID-19). It is important for all of us to stay safe, however there is no need for panic. Below, see some of the myths and corrections surrounding COVID-19.

  • The virus is not deadly for everyone. The WHO has advised that those with weakened immune systems, as well as babies and the elderly, are most at risk. If you are generally healthy, you may contract the virus, but merely experience flu-like symptoms. Of course, it is still a good idea, in the middle of this epidemic, to have yourself checked out by a medical professional.
  • Taking antibiotics won’t help because 2019-nCoV is a virus. Antibiotics are only useful against bacterial infections, not viruses like the common cold, flu, and COVID-19. By taking antibiotics when you don’t need to, you are contributing towards antibiotic resistance, one of the biggest threats to global health.
  • Wearing a mask only offers limited protection. As soon as the mask is moist (for example, from breathing or sneezing), it needs to be changed. You can’t use the same face mask for multiple days.
  • Rubbing sesame oil or petroleum jelly on your nose will also not reduce your risk of infection.
  • Eating garlic, which does contain some antimicrobial properties, offers no protection.
  • Saline solutions and mouthwash are a good way to clean out sinuses, but they won’t protect you against the virus.
  • Vaccines against other respiratory diseases, such as pneumonia, do not protect you against COVID-19, which is a brand new virus. Scientists are trying to develop a vaccine against COVID-19.
  • There is no evidence that pets can be infected by the coronavirus, but always wash your hands after petting or playing with your dog or cat to protect against other germs.
  • It’s still safe to receive letters or packages from China as the virus doesn’t survive long on objects.
  • It’s still safe to fly, so long as you take precautions,  like wearing masks, washing your hands (and/or using an alcohol-based sanitizer), and avoiding close proximity with sick individuals.

To track the spread of the virus online, visit this website, created by researchers at Johns Hopkins University.

 

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: Hush Naidoo [1], [2].