Covid-19 wrap: New regulations will see bars in SA close at 6pm
Strict new regulations to contain virus will see bars in SA close at 6pm
The government has solidified plans to punish those who refuse medical examinations, isolation and quarantine in the wake of the Covid-19 crisis.
In regulations gazetted by the minister of cooperative governance and traditional affairs (Cogta), Dr Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma, the government outlines actions that will be taken against those who refuse medical treatment.
This comes after President Cyril Ramaphosa’s declaration of a national disaster on Sunday evening - a move that allows for the use of the Disaster Management Act as a tool to try to contain the spread of the pandemic.
The regulations also spell out the responsibilities of cabinet, the allocation of resources and the conditions under which the sale of liquor may take place.
Intentionally infecting a person with Covid-19 could result in charges
The government has introduced strict regulations that would see people who intentionally infect others with Covid-19 prosecuted for assault, attempted murder or even murder.
The regulations were gazetted late on Wednesday by cooperative governance minister Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma.
The regulations, effective immediately, detailed when people would be committing an offence or be liable for a penalty under the national state of disaster.
If anyone disregards the government’s instructions to prevent gatherings of more than 100 people or more than 50 people where alcohol is served, they may face a fine, jail time or both.
MSC Orchestra 'will be isolated as a quarantined vessel': Mbalula
The government has vowed to take harsh action after a cruise ship left South Africa for Mozambique this week.
The MSC Orchestra left the port of Durban on Monday with 2,800 passengers and 900 crew aboard for picturesque Pomene, Mozambique - a day after President Cyril Ramaphosa announced a raft of measures to quell the spread of the coronavirus, including the closure of some sea ports.
Many of the passengers aboard the MSC Orchestra are South African.
Western Cape health MEC self-isolating after French consul general tests positive
French consul general Laurent Amar in Cape Town confirmed on Wednesday that he had tested positive for Covid-19.
Amar's going public to alert all of those who he has come into contact with prompted Western Cape health MEC Nomafrench Mbombo to almost immediately put herself into self-quarantine. The two have recently been in contact.
Amar made his announcement on Twitter.
Virgin Active clubs stay open, despite call to 'avoid workouts and gyms'
Virgin Active has decided to keep its gyms open despite the government urging people to avoid "workouts and gyms".
Although it is closing facilities for children “in line with government-mandated school closures”, the international fitness brand said it would keep gym doors open but restrict attendance to less than 100 members at a time.
Some people took to social media to criticise the company on Wednesday, including puppet Chester Missing, played by ventriloquist comedian Conrad Koch.
Most Americans say Trump hasn't taken virus seriously: poll
Americans' worries about the novel coronavirus have shot up in the past week with a majority believing President Donald Trump has not taken it seriously enough, a survey said on Wednesday.
The Pew Research Center found that 55% of Americans polled from Saturday through Monday believed Covid-19 posed a "major threat to the nation's overall health" - up from 42% who said so when asked on March 10-11.
Pew, which surveyed 8,914 adults, found that 52 percent of Americans believed that Trump has not taken the risks of the new coronavirus seriously enough. Trump initially downplayed the impact of the virus and cast it as a hoax planted by his Democratic opponents.
But in the past week, with Wall Street tanking and infections rising, the Trump administration has taken far-reaching actions such as severely restricting foreign visitors and advising against all large gatherings.
New York to get hospital ship for coronavirus fight
New York is to get a 1,000-room hospital ship that will dock in the city's harbour to fight coronavirus, state Governor Andrew Cuomo said on Wednesday.
Cuomo said US President Donald Trump was "making arrangements" to send the USNS Comfort to America's financial capital.
"The President is going to dispatch the Comfort to us, it will be in New York City harbor," Cuomo told reporters.
Fikile Mbalula announces ban on cruise ships
Six passengers aboard the AIDAmira cruise ship, which arrived in Cape Town on Sunday, have tested negative for Covid-19.
Sobantu Tilayi, CEO of the SA Maritime Safety Authority (Samsa), told journalists on Wednesday that the six on the ship, which set sail from Walvis Bay in Namibia on Friday, had been on the same flight as a sailor who has since shown symptoms.
Transport minister Fikile Mbalula also announced new regulations that will prohibit the embarkation and disembarkation of passengers at eight sea ports.
"With effect from today, no cruise ships will be permitted to call into South African ports nor will any be allowed to leave our shores," he said.
Refusing to quarantine or self-isolate could land you in jail for up to 10 years
Anyone who refuses to quarantine or self-isolate after testing positive for Covid-19 can be prosecuted.
That's according to constitutional law expert Prof Pierre de Vos, who cautioned against this criminal act.
A family, including a mother and daughter who tested positive for Covid-19, was tracked down by police and returned to a health facility in Gauteng on Tuesday after refusing quarantine.
ANC urges South Africans to co-operate with Covid-19 measures
Both ANC secretary-general Ace Magashule and his deputy Jessie Duarte on Wednesday appeared in videos emphasising the government’s message to minimise the spread of the virus.
“We are here to say to you, all South Africans, young and old: avoid physical contact, avoid large crowds, avoid sneezing anywhere in public,” said Magashule, wearing an orange face mask.
Media at a presser where minister of transport Fikile Mbalula and minster Aaron Motsoaledi informed the media that the six passengers who went for precautionary screening tests aboard the AIDAmira are all negative @TimesLIVE @WesternCapeGov @VandAWaterfront pic.twitter.com/BNXrtclRCx— Esa Alexander (@ezaap) March 18, 2020
Covid-19 hotline and WhatsApp helpline flooded with calls, messages
Within days of its launch, the national health department’s WhatsApp-based helpline, Covid-19 Connect, has engaged with more than 1.5-million people.
The helpline, the department said, was launched at the weekend to deliver “accurate, up-to-date information to South African citizens at the height of the coronavirus pandemic.
Unions resist government call for teachers to stay at school until Friday
The department of basic education is insisting that teachers remain in school until Friday - despite calls by two of the country's teachers' unions for members to stay at home from Wednesday.
In a statement, the department said teachers should remain at work until Friday to give them time to draw up a "curriculum catch-up plan".
Laurent Amar, the Consul General of France in Cape Town, has tested positive for Covid-19
SA's 'patient zero' has recovered
KwaZulu-Natal premier Sihle Zikalala said on Wednesday that “patient zero”, the country's first confirmed case of Covid-19, had recovered.
Zikalala said at a briefing in Durban that the 38-year-old man from Hilton in the Midlands was ready to be discharged from hospital.
Plan in place to limit spread of virus among 16.5-million taxi commuters
The largest taxi organisation in the country has mapped out a plan to limit the spread of Covid-19 in the sector, as the number of confirmed cases rose to 116 on Wednesday.
SA National Taxi Council (Santaco) president Phillip Taaibosch addressed journalists at the Wanderers taxi rank in Johannesburg on Wednesday morning on measures the council will take to limit the spread of the virus. These include cleaning and disinfecting taxi ranks and minibus taxis with certified chemicals every day.
The Western Cape's minister of transport and public works, Bongikosi Madikizela, oversaw some of the interventions by local government to prevent the spread of Covid-19 on public transport on March 18 2020.
Cape Town closes libraries, offers 'drop and pick-up' service for readers
Libraries in Cape Town will close from Thursday to minimise the risk of Covid-19 contagion, the city council announced on Wednesday.
A day after saying libraries would remain open to people wishing to borrow or return reading material, mayor Dan Plato said a "drop and pick-up service" would be introduced instead.
"Library patrons may request material telephonically or via e-mail," he said.
'It is stressful because bills must be paid': future unclear for small businesses as Covid-19 cases rise
With more than 100 confirmed cases of Covid-19 in SA on Wednesday, many people have taken a decision to work from home indefinitely — leaving the future for small businesses bleak.
Jacob Ndoro, a Johannesburg street vendor, hopes the pandemic can be contained soon or else his family could go hungry.
Ndoro, who is based in Parktown, relies on office workers to visit his mini tuck shop to buy fruit, cigarettes and snacks.
With the outbreak, he has seen a decrease in customers, which affects his total earnings.
Joburg man ready and willing to help the elderly amid Covid-19 outbreak
A Johannesburg man is offering to help with the collection or delivery of medication and groceries for the elderly in his neighbourhood who are vulnerable to the coronavirus - for free.
Dia Ezzaoudi hopes other people will offer similar initatives in their own communities.
Burkina Faso reports first Covid-19 death in sub-Saharan Africa
The Sahel state of Burkina Faso on Wednesday announced its first death from coronavirus, which is also the first known fatality in sub-Saharan Africa.
"We recorded the death overnight of a female patient aged 62, who suffered from diabetes and was in intensive care," Burkina's national coordinator for responding to the virus, Professor Martial Ouedraogo, told the press.
Safa suspends all football, including PSL matches
The SA Football Association has taken the decision to suspend all football in the country in response to the Covid-19 pandemic continuing to spread in SA.
The suspension applies until April 4, Safa president Danny Jordaan said making the announcement at Safa House in Nasrec, south of Johannesburg, on Wednesday.
Absa Richards Bay closed pending confirmation that mom and daughter have Covid-19
Absa in Richards Bay, northern KwaZulu-Natal, has temporarily closed it doors pending the outcome of an investigation into a suspected case of Covid-19.
The bank's national spokesperson, Gugulethu Maqetuka, confirmed with TimesLIVE on Tuesday evening that the bank had closed it doors on Monday.
This follows reports by the provincial department of education that an employee at a bank and her daughter had tested positive for the virus after they had private consultations with a doctor in the area.
As South Africans come to grips with measures implemented by President Cyril Ramaphosa to prevent the spread of coronavirus, many are panic buying, filling their trolleys with goods and leaving other citizens with no options. Consumer journalist Wendy Knowler provides insight on the phenomenon.
Table Mountain Aerial Cableway closes
Table Mountain Aerial Cableway Company will be closed to all visitors as from Wednesday. The cableway will remain closed until after the Easter weekend, or until greater clarity is given on the management and containment of this virus by President Cyril Ramaphosa and international health bodies.
“We believe that it is our duty to act responsibly as a tourism operator under these extreme circumstances. As the number of confirmed cases continue to rise, we will continue to take the necessary precautions to mitigate the spread of the virus,” says Wahida Parker, Managing Director of TMACC.
'The impact on the economy is going to be quite devastating': Ramaphosa on Covid-19
President Cyril Ramaphosa says companies in financial distress will have to be helped by the government as part of its relief programme to minimise the economic impact of Covid-19.
Ramaphosa made the announcement after a meeting with all parties represented in parliament, which was held at Tuynhuys in Cape Town on Wednesday morning.
Crèche owner, swim coach worry about livelihoods & debit orders
Concerns are being expressed about the financial impact of the closure of crèches and schools on staff who earn a living from the small businesses that cater to this sector of the economy.
The Gauteng department of social development has instructed all early childhood centres across the province to close this week. Spokesperson Thabiso Hlongwane said the department was adhering to the measures announced by President Cyril Ramaphosa on the outbreak of Covid-19.
Now UCT's student leaders support call to vacate residences over Covid-19
The president of the SRC at the University of Cape Town has blamed “rogue elements” in the council for saying students should remain in residences despite an official decision to vacate them in the face of Covid-19.
The call for students to stay put came from the council’s secretary-general and deputy secretary-general, Asemahle Ntumntum and Siseko Kosani, who instructed students to “occupy” and “not vacate” – a call that was made on official SRC letterhead and amplified on its official Twitter account.
Hand sanitiser sold out? Don't try to make your own, cautions expert
Shops across the country were selling out of hygiene products such as hand sanitisers, wet wipes and antibacterial liquids, prompting some consumers to start making their own hand sanitiser using internet recipes.
If you’ve missed the boat and find yourself in the unfortunate position of not being able to find hand sanitiser, do not panic. “Soap and water is still the gold standard,” said medical doctor Anastacia Tomson. “A thorough handwash remains the cornerstone of effective hygiene.”
China-based Dino Ndlovu: SA government reaction to covid-19 'too slow'
As the Covid-19 pandemic continues to spread in South Africa‚ Chinese-based footballer Dino Ndlovu has said the South African government’s reaction to the coronavirus outbreak is “too slow”.
The former Bafana Bafana striker has also suggested that the South African government “should cut everything” if it is to contain the outbreak.
Ndlovu‚ who plays for Chinese club Zhejiang Greentown FC‚ was in the Hangzhou province when the novel coronavirus first exploded in Wuhan city‚ some 800km away from his club base.
Wearing a mask, gloves won't stop spread of coronavirus, say experts
Wearing masks and gloves as a precaution against coronavirus is ineffective, unnecessary for the vast majority of people, and may even spread infections faster, experts have said.
While near-total lockdowns have been imposed in Italy, Spain and now France, the World Health Organisation's (WHO) advice has remained unchanged since the start of the global outbreak: wash your hands, don't touch your face, and keep your distance.
Jumuah prayers suspended for four weeks
After consultation with medical experts and other stakeholders, the Muslim Judicial Council (SA) have declared that Jumuah prayers will be suspended for four weeks.
However, it added that it is not calling for the closure of masajid.
1,700 aboard Cape Town cruise liner enter day four of captivity
More than 1,700 passengers and crew on Wednesday entered their fourth day stuck aboard a cruise liner inside Cape Town harbour because of a coronavirus scare.
This follows the evacuation of six passengers for precautionary screening tests. The test results are expected on Wednesday.
The evacuated passengers were potentially exposed to the crew member of another vessel, the MV Corona, on a flight to Cape Town from Istanbul.
Handbook has no rules on who wins title if PSL is called off
The handbook of rules and regulations governing professional football in South Africa runs to close to 100 pages‚ and covers all aspects of the running of the game‚ but makes no allowance for what to do in case of a curtailed season.
In effect‚ there is no guidance for what the Premier Soccer League (PSL) can‚ or must‚ do in situations of force majeure (superior or natural circumstances)‚ like the coronavirus health scare‚ impact on a football season‚ causing to be abandoned as is increasingly looking a possibility at this time.
SAA cancels scores of flights as demand for air travel declines
SAA has resorted to grounding aircraft, releasing staff and cancelling flights as the coronavirus pandemic soars.
On Wednesday the airline said in the light of the substantial fall in demand for air travel, it had reviewed its flight schedule and had decided to operate flights only in circumstances where its load factors and other business considerations weighed in favour of scheduling flights.
Proteas in self-isolation
Members of the South African cricket team have been told to undergo a 14-day period of self-isolation and social distancing to prevent the spread of coronavirus following their return from an aborted tour of India.
The players arrived back in SA on Wednesday, 10 days after departing on a tour during which they played no cricket.
The first of three scheduled one-day internationals was abandoned without a ball bowled because of rain and the remaining two were cancelled due to the coronavirus outbreak.
New coronavirus 'can survive on some surfaces for days, in the air for hours'
The novel coronavirus can survive on some surfaces for days or in the air for several hours, according to a US government funded study published Tuesday.
Scientists found that the virus that causes the Covid-19 disease had similar levels of viability outside the body to its predecessor that caused Sars.
This means that other factors like greater transmission between people with no symptoms might be why the current pandemic is far greater than the Sars outbreak of 2002-2003.
Politicians 'underestimated' virus threat: EU chief
Political leaders "underestimated" the magnitude of the danger posed by the coronavirus, the president of the European Commission admitted on Wednesday, as the EU shut its borders.
"I think that all of us who are not experts initially underestimated the coronavirus," Ursula von der Leyen told Germany's Bild newspaper in an interview published on Wednesday. "But now it is clear that this is a virus that will keep us busy for a long time yet."
"We understand that measures that seemed drastic two or three weeks ago, need to be taken now," she added.
Parkrun events cancelled
All parkrun events across SA, Namibia, and Eswatini have been cancelled with immediate effect.
In a statement, parkrun South Africa president Bruce Fordyce said that initially the closure will be in place until the end of March, however they expect it to continue through April at least.
🚨 All parkrun events in South Africa, Namibia & Eswatini have been suspended with immediate effect due to the ongoing COVID-19 (Coronavirus) situation— parkrun South Africa (@parkrunSA) March 18, 2020
All events will be cancelled until at least the end of March
🔄 Please share
🌳 #loveparkrun pic.twitter.com/aLae0Na8SQ
Covid-19 infections in SA climb to 116
The number of cases of Covid-19 in SA has increased to 116.
According to the health ministry, there has been an increase of 31 cases since Tuesday night's announcement of 85 cases.
SA citizen shares step-by-step guide on how she deals with Covid-19 in China
Slindile Mhlongo, a South African living in China, took to Twitter on Tuesday to share how she is dealing with the pandemic.
Instead of panicking, Mhlongo said she's been practising social distancing for 58 days and it has helped her cope.
'Scrubs' throwback clip on the importance of social distancing goes viral
In the wake of social distancing, a throwback clip from the US comedy series Scrubs, explaining its importance, has gone viral.
On Sunday, President Cyril Ramaphosa encouraged social distancing, banning gathering and events of more than 100 people as Covid-19 continues to spread.
In the 2006 clip of the episode titled “My Cabbage”, Dr Kelso (played by Ken Jenkins) can be seen explaining to the janitor that infection was the number one cause of death in a hospital.
“Infection can start with a simple sneeze, and then a handshake, perhaps an accidental collision, then a simple touch on the shoulder and just like that you have a patient in trouble.”
Watch the video here.
Doctors map body's Covid-19 immune response: study
Researchers in Australia said on Tuesday they had mapped the body's immune response to the novel coronavirus, in a potential breakthrough in the fight against the global killer.
A team of scientists were able to test blood samples from a patient who had contracted Covid-19 and was hospitalised with moderate symptoms.
Authors of the study, published in the journal Nature Medicine, said it was the first time experts had mapped the body's general immune response to the new disease.
Italy rushes new doctors into service to help battle coronavirus
Italy will rush 10,000 student doctors into service, scrapping their final exams, in an effort to help the struggling health service cope with the coronavirus which claimed another 345 lives.
The death toll rose to 2,503 over the past 24 hours, the Civil Protection Agency said, while the total number of confirmed cases increased to 31,506 from a previous 27,980 — the largest number outside China.
South Africans flown home from Wuhan all negative for Covid-19
TEST RESULTS OF CITIZENS REPATRIATED FROM WUHAN— Department of Health (@HealthZA) March 18, 2020
SA citizens from Wuhan were tested and their results came back negative for COVID-19.
Quarantine is continuing for the prescribed period and govt will thereafter initiate the process of reunifying them with the community #COVID19