SA scientists discover COVID-19 genome that could help curb the spread of the virus

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Scientists in South Africa say they have made a discovery that will assist South Africa in tracking the local spread of COVID-19.

The University of the Western Cape says researchers from the institution’s National Bioinformatics Institute and the National Institute for Communicable Diseases (NICD) sequenced the coronavirus genome in South Africa.  This means they have obtained the genetic fingerprint of the virus in the country.

The scientists say the coronavirus locally is similar to that in Europe and the US and any changes, or mutations, are not significant. This will assist in developing a vaccine that should be able to be applied in most parts of the world.

Wits students producing devices to help COVID-19 patients breathe

At the same time, Wits University students and engineers are producing face shields for medical staff and devices to assist patients with breathing in hospitals.

The university says they produced the first few hundred face shields, which were delivered to hospitals in Johannesburg last week.

Wits Spokesperson Shirona Patel says the university wants to take the project up to scale. However, more funding will be required.

“This will assist in helping us to make the face shields that will keep the health care practitioners protected and to assist in breathing and assist devices helping patients to survive. The university is grateful for any contribution that anyone makes however large or small. This initiative aims to save lives of many people.”

In the video below, UJ scientists have invented a new device that assist healthcare practitioners to remotely monitor and diagnose patients: