4,996 confirmed coronavirus cases in South Africa – as deaths climb to 93

Health minister Dr Zweli Mkhize has confirmed that there are now 4,996 positive Covid-19 cases in South Africa.

This is up from the 4,793 Covid-19 cases announced on Monday by the minister, meaning a rise of 203 cases over the past 24 hours.

Mkhize also reported that the number of deaths from the coronavirus now stands at 93, up from the 90 deaths reported on Monday. He said that the country has seen 2,073 recoveries.

The minister said that all three new deaths were in the Western Cape, and all had underlying issues.

A total of 185,497 tests have been conducted so far, up from a total of 178,470 before.

Lingering virus

Globally, coronavirus cases moved past 3 million infections, with around 212,5000 deaths, and 934,400 recoveries.

The new coronavirus appears to linger in the air in crowded spaces or rooms that lack ventilation, researchers found in a study that buttresses the notion that Covid-19 can spread through tiny airborne particles known as aerosols.

Bloomberg reported that at two hospitals in Wuhan, China, researchers found bits of the virus’s genetic material floating in the air of hospital toilets, an indoor space housing large crowds, and rooms where medical staff take off protective gear.

The study, published Monday in the journal Nature Research, didn’t seek to establish whether the airborne particles could cause infections.

The question of how readily the new virus can spread through the air has been a matter of debate. The World Health Organisation has said the risk is limited to specific circumstances, pointing to an analysis of more than 75,000 cases in China in which no airborne transmission was reported.

People produce two types of droplets when they breathe, cough or talk. Larger ones drop to the ground before they evaporate, causing contamination mostly via the objects on which they settle. Smaller ones – those that make up aerosols – can hang in the air for hours.

The researchers, led by Ke Lan of Wuhan University, set up so-called aerosol traps in and around two hospitals in the city that was home to the pandemic’s first steps.

They found few aerosols in patient wards, supermarkets and residential buildings. Many more were detected in toilets and two areas that had large crowds passing through, including an indoor space near one of the hospitals.

Especially high concentrations appeared in the rooms where medical staff doff protective equipment, which may suggest that particles contaminating their gear became airborne again when masks, gloves and gowns are removed.

The findings highlight the importance of ventilation, limiting crowds and careful sanitation efforts, the researchers said.

Payouts to South African businesses – UIF

The number of companies which have had their Unemployment Insurance Fund (UIF) Temporary Employer-Employee Scheme (TERS) applications processed has increased drastically compared to last week, said the UIF.

Labour Minister Thulas Nxesi said that over 59,000 applications have been successfully processed by the UIF.

Nxesi called on all employers to apply for COVID-19 benefits through TERS, stating the fund has paid out just over R3.3 billion to date.

He added that about 10,000 applications could not be processed due to errors, but said the affected companies have been informed of the problems with their applications.

Read: South Africa is getting a new lockdown curfew – here’s how it works

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