58,568 confirmed coronavirus cases in South Africa

Minister of health Dr Zweli Mkhize has announced that South Africa now has 58,568 confirmed cases of coronavirus.

This is up by 3,148 cases from the 55,421 infections on Wednesday when 2,430 new cases were reported.

A total of 1 028 399 tests have been conducted to date, of which 29,999 tests have been conducted over the past 24-hour period, the minister said.

Mkhize reported 74 additional deaths over the past 24 hours, taking the total to 1,284. Recoveries are at 33,252, meaning a recovery rate of 56.8%.

Globally, coronavirus cases topped 7.5 million globally on Thursday, while deaths have exceeded 420,000, with more than 3.8 million recoveries.

It’s “still uncertain” how many people are carrying Covid-19 without displaying symptoms, the World Health Organisation’s coronavirus special envoy, David Nabarro, told an Irish parliamentary hearing by video conference.

Nabarro described the virus as a “continuous threat” and didn’t appear to be seasonal, Bloomberg reported.

While it would be “reasonable” to make face coverings on public transport compulsory, Nabarro doesn’t expect a blanket 14 day quarantine period for travelers sticking for long in any European country. Instead he expects countries to establish air links with specific nations based on how they are managing the virus.

Covid-19 antibody trials

Regeneron meanwhile, said it had begun human trials of a new antibody cocktail for Covid-19, part of an ambitious clinical-testing plan that could lead to a new treatment option by the end of summer if all goes well, Bloomberg reported.

In a statement, the company said it will test a two-antibody combination in a wide variety of people, including those already sick with Covid-19, as well as healthy people at high risk of being exposed to the virus.

“Our data suggests putting together multiple antibodies could really be the key to having a major impact on the virus,” George Yancopoulos, the company’s co-founder and chief scientific officer, said in an interview.

He said lab studies that Regeneron plans to publish soon show the coronavirus will quickly develop resistance to a single antibody-based treatment, but that when multiple antibodies are combined the virus doesn’t fight them off.

Testing backlog

The National Health Services Laboratory (NHLS) is slowly reducing South Africa’s Covid-19 test backlog but has been hampered by international shortages, said Dr Kamy Chetty, chief executive officer.

Chetty told Parliament that the backlog currently stands at around 63,000 unprocessed specimens. These are defined as specimens which are older than three days from when they were first registered at the laboratory.

Dr Chetty noted that a reasonable time to clear a sample through the laboratory, if all reagents (test kits) and resources are available, is between 48-72 hours.

She added that the NHLS is making steady progress in reducing the backlog which stood at over 80,000 specimens at the start of June.

Read: Here is South Africa’s updated school calendar for 2020 – including the new terms and school holidays

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