Covid-19 in SA: Extended UIF, a warning on travel allowances – and patient discharged after 77 days

Business Insider SA
Western Cape Health Department.
  • South Africa is among the top-five most affected countries in the world by the coronavirus - with 381,798 infections as of Wednesday.
  • There have been 208,144 recoveries from Covid-19 - including a 48-year-old woman who spent 51 days on a ventilator.
  • Meanwhile, government has announced an extension of the Covid-19 TERS payout, till end of August.
  • Tax experts have also raised the alarm on travel allowances come tax assessment time.
  • For more information visit Business Insider South Africa.

Day 117 – SA’s numbers

Covid-19 infections: 381,798

Deaths: 5,368

Recoveries: 208,144

Tests conducted: 2,536,921

Daily infection rate: 8,000 - 12,000+

Coronavirus hotline: 0800 029 999

Department of health.

A 48-year-old woman has been discharged after spending 77 days in a Cape Town hospital. Of those, 51 were spent on a ventilator in the intensive care unit (ICU), making her the province’s longest hospitalised Covid-19 patient, the Western Cape Health department said in a statement.

Zuliswa Maqana was admitted to Groote Schuur hospital (GSH) on 5 May and was immediately intubated due to severe Covid-19-related pneumonia. She spent 54 days in the ICU in total before being transferred to another ward.

“It was a rocky course through the ICU with complications and other infections along the way. Eventually, she left the ICU on 28 June and arrived in ward F5. She could hardly talk or walk on arrival in the ward, but slowly grew stronger, as she was rehabilitated by physiotherapy and nursing," said Dr Henri Pickardt, General Surgeon at GSH.

"The medical care received transformed her into the radiant patient who danced out of the hospital on 20 July. One of the infections she had required her to complete a 4-week intravenous antibiotic course,” said Pickardt.

Maqana, who lives in Samora Machel with her son, 29, and daughter, 16, said she was grateful to the staff at GSH. “I didn’t know what day it was [when I entered the hospital] and I couldn’t move for weeks. But they [hospital staff] helped me learn to walk again after 77 days. And they were all so happy for me when I could go home,” she said.

Zuliswa Maqana leaves Groote Schuur Hospital in Cape Town. (Supplied)

South Africa now has more than 380,000 Covid-19 cases – which puts it among the top-five most affected countries in the world.

Meanwhile, in a surprise move, government has extended the Covid-19 Temporary Employer/Employee Relief Scheme (TERS) until the middle of August.

Workers who are put on leave, have been laid off temporarily, or whose employers can’t afford to pay their full salaries due to the coronavirus crisis were entitled to payouts in April, May and June. Previously the UIF and government confirmed that the scheme would end after the June payments were made. 

Read more: UIF Covid-19 payouts have been extended into August

Tax experts have also sounded the alarm on travel allowances, when it comes to assessment time.

If you get a travel allowance because you drive for work, and if lockdown means you've stopped driving as much, you may just be in for a nasty surprise after your next tax assessment.

For those who don't travel all that much on business, employers are required to withhold pay-as-you-earn (PAYE) tax on 80% of a travel allowance every month, says Yolandi Esterhuizen, a registered tax practitioner at accounting-systems company Sage.

But if an employer is satisfied that the vehicle will be used for private travel only 20% of the time or less, the employee can get a break, with PAYE withheld only on 20% of the travel allowance, to cover an eventual tax bill.

Read more: Drive a lot on business? Sars may have a nasty surprise for you if that changed during lockdown

Here's what we know from SA's hospitals on Covid-19 cases in the country:

The latest Covid-19 Sentinel Hospital Surveillance Update for the month to 5 July was released by the National Institute for Communicable Diseases. The report tracks information from most of the hospitals that accommodate Covid-19 cases.

What age you are mostly to die from the disease

Source: NICD

The median age of Covid-19 patients who died in South Africa was 61 years. Only 8 children (under the age of 18) died - 0.3% of the total. There were 203 (7.8%) deaths in patients younger than 40 years.

What age you are more likely to be admitted to hospital

covid admissions

The median age of Covid-19 admissions was 50 years (interquartile range [IQR] 38 – 62). There were 580 (3.2%) admissions in patients 18 years and younger and 2 386 (13.3%) in patients older than 70 years. 

Hypertension, diabetes were the most likely comorbidities among those who died

Source: NICD

Trauma cases rose by 62% in the Western Cape following the lifting of the alcohol ban

covid 19 alcohol ban
Sentinel report.

The lifting of the alcohol ban has effectively resulted in a 62% increase in daily trauma cases presenting to emergency centres in the Western Cape, according to the Sentinel trauma report, which looks at a sample of hospital emergency centres and their patients over time. It show a trauma admissions increase of 54%, trauma ICU admissions increase of 350% and trauma deaths in emergency centres of 308%.

Lockdown's impact on mining

SA's mining output shrank by more than 31% in the three months to end-May, according to new data from Statistics SA. Mining output remains sharply lower than a year before: 

Source: Statistics SA

Iron ore output shrank by 66.3%, followed by platinum group metals, which fell by -27.3% in May.

This is despite the easing of the lockdown regulations in May, which allowed underground operations to ramp-up production to 50% and open cast mines to shift to full capacity.

Income from mineral sales - as more mines came online, and in part due to the rally gold price - increased by almost 26% in May from the previous month. But for the three months to end-May, total income was still 18% lower than the previous three months.

Source Statistics SA

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