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'We won't see lockdown extended but high-risk groups may be confined to home'

20 April 2020 10:03 AM
Tags:
COVID-19
LockdownSA
Dr Glenda Gray
South African Covid-19 government advisory committee

Government Covid-19 advisory committee's Dr Glenda Gray says there may be future repeat lockdowns to curb outbreaks.

Dr Glenda Gray, one of the leading scientists on the South African government's advisory committee on Covid-19 talks to Refilwe Moloto.

Gray is also the CEO of the South African Medical Research Council (SAMRC) and is involved in the South Africa Aids Vaccine Initiative (Saavi).

She speaks about how little scientists know about the coronavirus and what this means for developing vaccination and possible lockdown extensions.

The lockdown was powerful and very potent because it locked down the infections, particularly those from international travelers...and it has had a lot of effects.

Dr Glenda Gray, Member - SA government's Covid-19 advisory committee

She says the initial lockdown helped get people to stay at home and contain the epidemic.

The extension of the lockdown?

The extended lockdown was imported for us to get out hospitals and systems ready to face the epidemic.

Dr Glenda Gray, Member - SA government's Covid-19 advisory committee

We flattened the curve. But by flattening the curve we also extended the epidemic longer into September, October and we missed the peak which was important because we would not have had enough beds.

Dr Glenda Gray, Member - SA government's Covid-19 advisory committee

We have to wait and see what happens when we ease the lockdown, but certainly, household transmission will occur so if you have a Covid-19 infection the household, with overcrowded households that is where the transmission will occur.

Dr Glenda Gray, Member - SA government's Covid-19 advisory committee

She says it is too early to predict what will happen.

It is too early to predict that we have come out of this unscathed. As we go into the winter months we have Covid-19 together with influenza season we are going to be in a lot of trouble regarding respiratory diseases in our hospitals.

Dr Glenda Gray, Member - SA government's Covid-19 advisory committee

The next few weeks are important, she says.

I don't think it will be possible to extend the lockdown, but I do think we will be having elements of un-phasing the lockdown, so let low-risk people out first...and let people out who need to kickstart the economy.

Dr Glenda Gray, Member - SA government's Covid-19 advisory committee

We won't see the lockdown extended, but we may see certain groups of people be contained in the household while others go to work.

Dr Glenda Gray, Member - SA government's Covid-19 advisory committee

We also need to prepare ourselves for repeated lockdowns. When it gets out of control or people get too sick the government may be forced to pause the country again.

Dr Glenda Gray, Member - SA government's Covid-19 advisory committee

We are still under testing so it is hard to get an estimate of exactly how many cases we do have.

Dr Glenda Gray, Member - SA government's Covid-19 advisory committee

She says they are keeping an eye on the death rates and whether there is undercounting and those who die at home of the virus are then included in the numbers.

Every day it changes and every week counts - this epidemic, you count it by hours and days not by months or years.

Dr Glenda Gray, Member - SA government's Covid-19 advisory committee

She emphasises that comorbidities will add to the risk of dying and so those people and the elderly must be protected.

Listen to the interview below:


20 April 2020 10:03 AM
Tags:
COVID-19
LockdownSA
Dr Glenda Gray
South African Covid-19 government advisory committee

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