Scielo RSS <![CDATA[SAMJ: South African Medical Journal]]> vol. 110 num. 6 lang. es <![CDATA[SciELO Logo]]> <![CDATA[<b>Closed positive end-expiratory pressure system: Pre-oxygenation and ventilatory support in COVID-19</b>]]> <![CDATA[<b>COVID-19 restrictions and increased risk of overdose for street-based Seople with opioid dependence in outh Africa</b>]]> <![CDATA[<b>The implications of COVID-19 for the children of Africa</b>]]> <![CDATA[<b>COVID-19: Science and global health governance under attack</b>]]> <![CDATA[<b>Criminalisation of transmission of SARS-CoV-2: A potential challenge to controlling the outbreak in South Africa</b>]]> In March 2020, two cases of attempted murder were opened against people who had tested positive for COVID-19 and had not remained in quarantine. Criminal law has previously been used to criminalise intentional transmission of HIV in both South Africa (SA) and other countries. However, it has been found that criminalisation laws undermine public health and measures to control outbreaks by stigmatising those infected and deterring testing. This article explores whether SA's existing HIV criminalisation laws can be applied to the transmission of SARS-CoV-2, and the potential effect such measures could have on efforts to control the COVID-19 epidemic. <![CDATA[<b>COVID-19 and quarantine orders: A practical approach</b>]]> Quarantine is a very effective method for containing the spread of highly infectious diseases in large populations during a pandemic, but it is only effective if properly implemented. The co-operation and compliance of people entering quarantine are critical to its success. However, owing to the isolating and social distancing nature of quarantine, it often leads to extreme economic hardship and shortages in basic needs such as food, medicine, water and communication - and to the curtailment of certain universal social norms such as attending a parent's funeral. To escape these hardships, people often refuse to enter voluntary quarantine, or breach quarantine rules. In these circumstances, health authorities are obliged to act in the best interests of the public and obtain court orders to force some people into quarantine. In further extreme circumstances, when a national lockdown is ordered, non-compliance with quarantine measures may result in arrests and penalties. The scope of this article is limited to the period prior to and following such a lockdown, during which quarantine may still be vital for the containment of COVID-19. Because a quarantine order will deprive an individual of his or her freedom, this must be carefully balanced with the public interest. This article explains the legal and ethical considerations of this balancing exercise and provides practical guidance for obtaining quarantine orders. <![CDATA[<b>Leadership and early strategic response to the SARS-CoV-2 pandemic at a COVID-19 designated hospital in South Africa</b>]]> While many countries are preparing to face the COVID-19 pandemic, the reported cases in Africa remain low. With a high burden of both communicable and non-communicable disease and a resource-constrained public healthcare system, sub-Saharan Africa is preparing for the coming crisis as best it can. We describe our early response as a designated COVID-19 provincial hospital in Cape Town, South Africa (SA). While the first cases reported were related to international travel, at the time of writing there was evidence of early community spread. The SA government announced a countrywide lockdown from midnight 26 March 2020 to midnight 30 April 2020 to stem the pandemic and save lives. However, many questions remain on how the COVID-19 threat will unfold in SA, given the significant informal sector overcrowding and poverty in our communities. There is no doubt that leadership and teamwork at all levels is critical in influencing outcomes. <![CDATA[<b>Isolation and quarantine in South Africa during COVID-19: Draconian measures or proportional response?</b>]]> In the midst of an unprecedented public health crisis, extraordinary containment measures must be implemented. These include both isolation and quarantine, either on a voluntary basis or enforced. In the transition from voluntary to mandatory isolation, conflicts arise at the intersection of ethics, human rights and the law. The Siracusa Principles adopted by the United Nations Economic and Social Council in 1985 and enshrined in international human rights legislation and guidelines specify conditions under which civil liberties may be infringed. In order for isolation processes in South Africa to claim legitimacy, it is important that these principles as well as national laws and constitutional rights are embedded in state action. <![CDATA[<b>COVID-19: Mandatory institutional isolation v. voluntary home self-isolation</b>]]> Since community transmission of COVID-19 became established in South Africa, individuals who test positive for COVID-19 and who do not require hospitalisation have been permitted to self-isolate in their homes to reduce the burden on the health system. The Premier of KwaZulu-Natal Province has since announced that self-isolation will no longer be permitted in the province. Instead, mandatory isolation in state-designated isolation sites would apply. This policy change marks a dangerous departure from the country's prevailing position on home-based self-isolation and should not be replicated elsewhere. <![CDATA[<b>COVID-19 and patient-doctor confidentiality</b>]]> Given the increasing numbers of ethical and legal issues arising from the COVID-19 epidemic, particularly in respect of patient-doctor confidentiality, doctors must explain to patients how the measures taken to combat the spread of the virus impact on their confidentiality. Patients must be reassured that doctors are ethically bound to continue to respect such confidentiality, but it should be made clear to them that doctors must also comply with the demands of the law. While the Constitution, statutory law and the common law all recognise a person's right to privacy, during extraordinary times such as the COVID-19 pandemic, confidentiality must be breached to a degree to halt the spread of the virus. <![CDATA[<b>Quarantine alone or in combination with other public health measures to control COVID-19: A rapid Cochrane review</b>]]> In March 2020, the South African government implemented various non-pharmacological prevention and control measures (e.g. isolation, social distancing and quarantine) in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. We summarise evidence from a rapid Cochrane review on the effect of quarantine alone v. quarantine plus combination measures to prevent transmission of and mortality caused by COVID-19. The findings show that when started earlier, quarantine combined with other prevention and control measures can be more effective than quarantine alone, and cost less. <![CDATA[<b>Personal protective equipment (PPE) in a pandemic: Approaches to PPE preservation for South African healthcare facilities</b>]]> Personal protective equipment (PPE) is key to protecting healthcare workers from COVID-19 infection, but the pandemic has disrupted supply chains globally and necessitated rapid review of the scientific evidence for PPE re-use. In South Africa, where the COVID-19 epidemic is still developing, healthcare facilities have a short window of opportunity to improve PPE supply chains, train staff on prudent PPE use, and devise plans to track and manage the inevitable increases in PPE demand. This article discusses the available PPE preservation strategies and addresses the issue of decontamination and re-use of N95 respirators as a last-resort strategy for critical shortages during the pandemic. <![CDATA[<b>HIV and SARS-CoV-2 co-infection: The diagnostic challenges of dual pandemics</b>]]> The first critically ill patient admitted to our hospital in Cape Town, South Africa, during the COVID-19 pandemic was co-infected with HIV and SARS-CoV-2. Pneumocystis jirovecii pneumonia (PCP) and other respiratory opportunistic infections share many clinical features with severe COVID-19. Our understanding of the nuances of co-management of HIV and COVID-19 is evolving. We describe the diagnostic and therapeutic challenges presented by this case.