Ramaphosa ‘encouraged’ by Covid-19 drug, which is available in SA
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Johannesburg - President Cyril Ramaphosa said the South African government was ‘greatly encouraged’ by the news of the dexamethasone drug, which has been found to reduce deaths in severe Covid-19 patients on ventilation by a third.
On Wednesday night, Ramaphosa addressed millions of South Africans and announced that the virus had now infected over 80 000 people in the country and claimed 1674 lives. In terms of active cases, he said there were just over 34 400 people who were currently infected with the virus.
An Oxford University study has found that the dexamethasone drug - which is locally manufactured in South Africa - reduces Covid-19 deaths of people on ventilators by a third.
The president said the country had ‘ample supply’ of the drug.
“The Department of Health and the Ministerial Advisory Committee has recommended that dexamethasone can be considered for use on patients on ventilators and on oxygen supply.
“We believe that this will improve our management of the disease among those who are most severely affected,” said Ramaphosa.
However, the president warned that the coronavirus would be in the country for many years and called on South Africans to continue observing string social distancing, washing of hands with soap and staying home.
“Over the last few weeks, the number of infections has been rising rapidly. Nearly a third of all confirmed cases have been recorded in the last week alone and more than half of all confirmed cases have been recorded over the last two weeks,” he said.
Earlier, Ramaphosa also eased restrictions and announced that sit-in restaurants, accredited and licensed accommodation facilities (excluding home sharing accommodation like AirBnB), conference centres and meetings for business purposes, cinemas and theatres, casino, non-contact sports such as golf, tennis and cricket and personal care services - including hairdressers, would reopen.
He said this would see 500 000 more people return to work.
“We would like to encourage everyone in our country to wear masks when they are in public. Let us make sure that we do not share masks and that we wash our masks thoroughly in soap and water after each use.
“The wearing of masks, however, is no substitute for regular washing of hands with soap and water or sanitiser and maintaining a distance of at least 1.5 metres from other people.
“Let us all remember not to touch our faces with unwashed hands, and clean and sanitise surfaces regularly. We should also keep in mind that social distancing is still one of the most effective ways of reducing the spread of the virus,” he said.