In your top stories this hour…
# SA battling a surge in firearm-related deaths
# SA has reason to be hopeful, as COVID-19 recovery rate increases
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# According to advocacy group Gun Free SA, South Africa’s 1.4% increase in murder rates is largely attributed to gun violence.
Police Minister Bheki Cele presented the annual crime statistics on Friday, saying over 21,000 people have been killed from April 2019 to March this year, which is 303 more murders than the previous year.
Firearms were again at the top of the list of common weapons used to commit murders and attempted murders in the country.
There were 7,351 murders committed with firearms – which include revolvers, pistols, high-calibre and homemade guns.
Gun Free SA’s Claire Taylor said these statistics were not surprising due to the availability of guns in the country, local communities and homes.
The organisation said South Africa was battling a surge in firearm-related deaths due to poor regulations and a lack of compliance.

# The Western Cape MEC for Human Settlements, Tertius Simmers has expressed concern after the province was excluded from the Department of Public Works’ strategic integrated projects.
Simmers says this is despite the Western Cape having a housing waiting list of almost six-hundred thousand.
The MEC says he will be writing to Minister Patricia De Lille to hear why the province has been overlooked.
Simmers says the Public Works department also needs to release pieces of land to the Western Cape.
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# Minister of Health Zweli Mkhize told the National Summit on Science and Innovation Response on Friday that despite being the country with the fifth-highest number of Covid-19 cases in the world, South Africa has reason to be hopeful due to the recovery rate.
Mkhize said recoveries has now increased to 64%, showing that more people were overcoming the virus.
The virtual conference was also attended by Minister of Higher Education, Science and Innovation Blade Nzimande, who delivered President Cyril Ramaphosa’s speech, in his absence, as well as Trade and Industry Minister Ebrahim Patel.
Mkhize said lessons on case management and discovery of effective medication, such as dexamethasone, and early use of oxygen and other regiments, had resulted in low mortality.

And finally…
# A study in JAMA Pediatrics this week claimed that children under the age of five have between 10 to 100 times greater levels of genetic material of the coronavirus in their noses compared to older children and adults.
Its authors wrote this meant that young children might be important drivers of Covid-19 transmission within communities – a suggestion at odds with the current prevailing narrative.
The team, led by Dr Taylor Heald-Sargent of the Ann & Robert H. Lurie Children’s Hospital, observed “a 10-fold to 100-fold greater amount of SARS-CoV-2 in the upper respiratory tract of young children.”
The authors added that a recent lab study had demonstrated that the more viral genetic material was present, the more infectious virus could be grown, which means children could spread the virus more easily.
However, the new findings are at odds with the current view among health authorities that young children – who, it has been well established, are far less likely to fall seriously ill from the virus — don’t spread it much to others either.

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