Ramaphosa welcomes Dexamethasone breakthrough as SA virus death toll climbs

Ramaphosa welcomes Dexamethasone breakthrough as SA virus deaths climb

President Cyril Ramaphosa has welcomed the life-saving medical breakthrough for seriously ill COVID-19 patients. 

Covid Coronavirus Testing -AFP

British researchers say anti-inflammatory drug Dexamethasone can be used on those who are critically ill and can cut deaths by up to a third. 

The vaccine's been used since the 1960s to reduce inflammation in a range of conditions, including inflammatory disorders and certain cancers.

Health Minister Zweli Mhize says hospitals can consider using the steroid in certain cases. 

Ramaphosa says this vaccine will assist patients in a critical condition.

"A study by the University of Oxford in Britain found that the drug Dexamethasone – which is also manufactured here in South Africa by one of our pharmaceutical companies and of which there is an ample supply – reduced deaths among patients on ventilation by a third.

"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."

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South Africa's COVID-19 death toll has risen to 1 674. There've been just over 4 000 new infections since Tuesday. The country has confirmed a total of 80 412 positive cases so far and 44 331 recoveries.

Ramaphosa says the lockdown has helped prepare and enhance our healthcare system.

"The work to strengthen our health system – which includes establishing over 100 quarantine centres, increasing the number of intensive care units and beds in field hospitals and identifying additional health personnel – continues across all our provinces."

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