364,328 confirmed coronavirus cases in South Africa as deaths climb to 5,033

Health minister Dr Zweli Mkhize has announced that there are now a total of 364,328 cases of coronavirus in South Africa.

This is an increase of 13,449 cases from the 350,879 infections reported on Saturday.

The minister announced 85 new Covid-19 related deaths, taking the total to 5,033 casualties, following a 24-hour high of 216 casualties on Wednesday.

He pointed to 191,059 recoveries to date.

A total of 2.47 million tests have been conducted, with 49,006 tests conducted over the past 24 hours, Dr Mkhize said.

Since 31 December 2019 and as of 19 July 2020, approximately 14.5 million cases of Covid-19 have been reported, including approximately 605,000 deaths, and around 8.65 million recoveries.

Of approximately 5.2 million infected people, around 60,095 (1%) are serious, or critical.

Six distinct types of coronavirus have been identified by scientists, the Telegraph said.

Scientists used artificial intelligence software to identify “clusters” of symptoms and ranked them in order of severity. Headache and loss of smell are common to all six groupings, Bloomberg reported.

Scientists at King’s College London found that patients with the sixth type of Covid-19 are nearly 10 times more likely to end up needing breathing support than patients in the first group.

They used data from 1,600 users of its symptom tracker app in the UK and US who had confirmed cases. The resulting algorithm was then tested on a further 1,000 users in those countries as well as Sweden.

Schools in South Africa

South Africa’s five major teacher unions have called for the immediate closure of all schools as coronavirus cases continue to surge.

This, they said, must apply to all grades until the end of August, which is when Covid-19 infections are expected to peak, the Sunday Times reported.

The unions said in a proposal document, that matric students should return on 17 August and that these students should be assisted in various ways while learning from home.

Other grades should only return at the end of August, subject to a review based on the development of the virus, the unions said.

Basic Education minister Angie Motshekga will now discuss these proposals with the cabinet, the paper reports.

Education spokesperson Elijah Mhlanga confirmed to the Sunday Times that a meeting of the Council of Education Ministers took place on Saturday (18 July). He said the the ministers’ engagement will be ‘announced in due course’.

“We wish to reiterate that it is the cabinet that will make the decision on whether schools close or remain open,” he said.

Minister Motshekga said this week that around 16,000 teachers have comorbidities, putting them at greater risk should they contract Covid-19.

Meanwhile several teachers have already died from the virus, while hundreds of schools have been forced to close since 8 June, when most Grade 7 and 12 pupils returned to their classrooms.

Read: Mkhize makes ‘urgent and important’ plea to all South Africans

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