Image via Adobe Stock
Image via Adobe Stock
The coronavirus has officially docked on South African shores. Health Minister Zweli Mkhize has officially confirmed that a 38-year-old patient, said to be from KwaZulu-Natal (KZN), contracted the disease while visiting Italy. He returned home on 1 March and was isolated due to the symptoms he was showing.
Here’s what Mkhize had to say about the incident:
“This morning, Thursday 5 March, the National Institute for Communicable Diseases (NICD) confirmed that a suspected case of coronavirus has tested positive. The patient is a 38-year-old male who travelled to Italy with his wife. They were part of a group of 10 people and they arrived back in South Africa on 1 March 2020.”
“The patient consulted a private general practitioner on 3 March, with symptoms of fever, headache, malaise, a sore throat and a cough. The practise nurse took swabs and delivered it to the lab. The patient has been self-isolating since 3 March. The couple also has two children,” he added.
The doctor has also been self-isolated, as she may have picked up the coronavirus too.
Based on the sheer panic within South Africa at the moment, it would be useful to know what the recovery rates of the coronavirus are — do we even stand a chance against it?
According to worldometers.info, a page that monitors the coronavirus worldwide, there are currently 96 748 cases of coronavirus around the world and of that, 53 959 people have made a full recovery.
There have been 3 308 deaths to date, which means there are almost 40 000 people in limbo — somewhere between having the disease and dying from it.
According to the site, 32 962 people of the 40 000 are in a “mild condition” and 6 421 are in a “critical condition.”
According to the latest World Health Organisation (WHO) statistics, the mortality rate is sitting at 3.4%, which could be worse.
WHO director-general Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said:
“Globally, about 3.4% of reported COVID-19 cases have died. By comparison, seasonal flu generally kills far fewer than 1% of those infected.”
A study on 138 hospitalised patients with 2019-nCoV infection, published on 7 February on JAMA, found that 26% of patients required admission to the intensive care unit (ICU) and 4.3% died, but a number of patients were still hospitalized at the time.
A previous study had found that, out of 41 admitted hospital patients, 13 (32%) patients were admitted to an ICU and six (15%) died.
The JAMA study found that, among those discharged alive, the median hospital stay was 10 days.
A study of these cases found that the median days from the first symptom to death were 14 days, and tended to be shorter among people of 70-years-old or above.
The attack rate or transmissibility (how rapidly the disease spreads) of a virus is indicated by its reproductive number (Ro, pronounced R-nought or r-zero), which represents the average number of people to which a single infected person will transmit the virus.
WHO’s estimated (23 January) Ro was between 1.4 and 2.5. An outbreak with a reproductive number of below 1 will gradually disappear. For comparison, the Ro for the common flu is 1.3 and for SARS it was 2.0.
The coronavirus incubation period is, as it stands, is two to 14 days.
According to China’s National Health Commission (NHC), about 80% of those who died were over the age of 60 and 75% of them had pre-existing health conditions such as cardiovascular diseases and diabetes.
The median age of cases detected outside of China is 45 years, ranging from two to 74 years and 71% of cases were male.
People of all ages can be infected by the new coronavirus (2019-nCoV). Older people and people with pre-existing medical conditions (such as asthma, diabetes, heart disease) appear to be more vulnerable to becoming severely ill with the virus.
It seems to start with a fever, followed by a dry cough.
After a week, it can lead to shortness of breath, with about 20% of patients requiring hospital treatment.
Notably, the COVID-19 infection rarely seems to cause a runny nose, sneezing, or sore throat (these symptoms have been observed in only about 5% of patients). Sore throat, sneezing, and stuffy nose are most often signs of a cold.