COVID-19 WRAP | 27 new cases, face mask dilemmas and a 'devastating storm'

01 April 2020 - 07:07 By TimesLIVE
A sculpture is seen near an empty street outside a gallery in Rosebank, Johannesburg, on April 1 2020, due to the lockdown in South Africa.
A sculpture is seen near an empty street outside a gallery in Rosebank, Johannesburg, on April 1 2020, due to the lockdown in South Africa.
Image: ALON SKUY

April 1 2020 - 21:43

Mbalula backtracks: taxis now only allowed to be filled to 70% capacity

Transport minister Fikile Mbalula on Wednesday night rescinded a decision that taxis could be 100% during the national lockdown provided all passengers were wearing masks.

Mbalula had earlier announced this measure, as well as another that would allow taxis to be 70% full even if passengers weren't wearing masks.

However, in a statement, the transport department said that it ditched the 100% full option "with immediate effect", but that the 70% directive would still stand.

April 1 2020 - 21:38

Covid-19: Mkhize warns of 'calm before a heavy and devastating storm'

Despite a slowing down in the number of confirmed Covid-19 cases in SA, health minister Dr Zweli Mkhize has warned that the current lull could be the “calm before a heavy and devastating storm".

On Wednesday evening Mkhize announced an increase of just 27 confirmed cases of Covid-19 since Tuesday afternoon, bringing the total figure to 1,380 cases.

He, warned, however that the next few days would be critical ahead of an onslaught which, in part, could be bought about by the onset of the flu season, which will see many exhibiting symptoms of Covid-19, the respiratory illness caused by the coronavirus.

"This may be the calm before a heavy and devastating storm," he said. "We may not get further warnings before the pounding descends."

April 1 2020 - 21:20

In a late-night about-turn, transport minister Fikile Mbalula rescinded a decision made just hours earlier that taxis could be 100% during the national lockdown provided all passengers were wearing masks.

Mbalula had earlier announced this measure, as well as another that would allow taxis to be 70% full even if passengers weren't wearing masks.

However, in a statement, the transport department said that it ditched the 100% full option "with immediate effect", but that the 70% directive would still stand.

April 1 2020 - 20:05

Health minister Dr Zweli Mkhize said that the lockdown and pre-lockdown restrictions were seemingly making a difference in keeping the number of confirmed Covid-19 cases in SA a lot lower than originally predicted.

He was answering a question on Wednesday evening about the "worst case scenario" for Covid-19 cases.

He said a team was looking at modelling around the numbers."The figures are … focused on positive tests. In terms of those figures, they would anticipate by April 2 we could be around, maybe, 4,000 and 6,000.

But if there was no lockdown that figure could have gone up to 7,000. Maybe in about three weeks they anticipated about 16,000 - but because of the lockdown the figures are completely different from that."But it's early days and there's a lockdown, your model is bound to be disrupted," he said.

However, he said this didn't mean there was room for complacency.

"We are saying that, at the moment, these numbers are what we have been given and they are not close to where they could have been if there wasn't an intervention.

We cannot be complacent. There will not be a warning when the situation changes. We must always have our foot on the pedal," he said.

April 1 2020 - 19:45

Health minister Dr Zweli Mkhize on Wednesday evening addressed a persistent cough which had many South Africans concerned.

"I have tested for Covid-19 and I am negative," he said on his official Twitter account. He said that the had "all sorts of asthma and sinus issues", and that airconditioners also aggravate the cough.

April 1 2020 - 19:05

Covid-19 cases climb to 1,380 in SA

The number of confirmed Covid-19 cases in SA has risen to 1,380.

Health minister Dr Zweli Mkhize revealed the figure on Wednesday evening at the launch of a 60 mobile sampling and testing units, which would be deployed nationwide to test for the respiratory illness caused by the coronavirus.

April 1 2020 - 18:23

Unisa building closed as professor tests positive for Covid-19

A building at Unisa's campus in Pretoria has been closed after a professor tested positive for Covid-19.

Unisa spokesperson Martin Ramotshela said in a statement that the professor's doctor confirmed that he had contracted the deadly virus.

April 1 2020 - 18:15

You don't have to wear face masks, but you should: Zweli Mkhize

Everyone should wear face masks to prevent the spread of the coronavirus.

This was the message from health minister Dr Zweli Mkhize, through his spokesperson Lwazi Manzi, on Wednesday.

April 1 2020 - 17:52

April 1 2020 - 17:32

Wimbledon cancelled due to coronavirus pandemic

The Wimbledon tennis championships were cancelled for the first time since World War 2 as the coronavirus pandemic wiped another blue-riband sports event off the calendar on Wednesday.

While the decision had looked inevitable for some time, since the virtual shutdown of world sport and the postponement of the 2020 Tokyo Olympic Games by a year, Wimbledon had been one of the few events not to have been officially cancelled or postponed.

April 1 2020 - 17:17

Anglo American on operating during lockdown: 'We care for workers and the economy'

Anglo American has defended its decision to continue operations at its Kumba Iron Ore Sishen mine in the Northern Cape during the national lockdown.

This after the company was criticised by the EFF for putting its workers at risk of contracting Covid-19.

April 1 2020 - 17:02

April 1 2020 - 16:51

New rules say petty offenders must be released on warning until after lockdown

Whether walking your dog or jogging during the national lockdown is a “petty offence” is up to judicial officers to decide.

This after new regulations on preventing the spread of Covid-19 in courts were published this week.

April 1 2020 - 16:34

Three test positive for Covid-19 after contact with Durban teacher who died

Three people — including two youngsters — who had contact with a Durban teacher who died on Tuesday due to Covid-19 have tested positive for the deadly virus.

In a joint statement on Wednesday, basic education minister Angie Motshekga and KwaZulu-Natal education MEC Kwazi Mshengu conveyed their condolences to the family of the 46-year-old schoolteacher, who taught at a primary school in Isipingo, south of the city.

April 1 2020 - 16:29

Thieves bust for stealing booze worth R9,000 during lockdown in Cape Town

While many South Africans stayed at home at the weekend, thieves stole alcohol worth R9,000 from a locked-up Cape Town bar.

It seems the threat of Covid-19 is not enough to keep criminals at home: delinquents also broke into a fishery and a baby store in Cape Town's city centre.

April 1 2020 - 16:24

WATCH | Covid-19 research: Virus can last 'up to seven days' on surgical mask

Research published by medical specialists in Hong Kong shows how long COVID-19 can survive on different surfaces and in different environments. The surfaces tested included: paper, tissue paper, wood, cloth, glass, a banknote, stainless steel, plastic and the inner and outer layer of a surgical mask.

April 1 2020 - 16:09

LISTEN | Good Samaritans lend a helping hand during lockdown

April 1 2020 - 16:05

April 1 2020 - 15:58

Government caves in to allow taxis to carry full loads despite Covid-19 threat

The government has bowed to pressure from the taxi industry to avoid a possible strike by allowing taxis to carry full loads during the national lockdown.

Transport minister Fikile Mbalula said on Wednesday taxis would be allowed to carry full loads on condition that all passengers wore masks.

The latest amendment was announced by Mbalula during a media briefing at the MTN Taxi Rank in the Johannesburg CBD on Wednesday.

April 1 2020 - 15:13

Durban teacher, 14-year old pupil test positive for Covid-19

A colleague of a Durban teacher that passed away due to Covid-19 on Monday has tested positive for the virus.

On Tuesday, Department of Basic Education urged all those who may have come in contact with deceased Platt Drive Primary teacher to present themselves for testing.

"A 14-year old learner, related to one of the two teachers, in Grade 9 at Ogwini High School in Umlazi Township south of Durban has also tested positive," the department said.

April 1 2020 - 14:43

'Self centred' SGBs refuse to accommodate the homeless in Gauteng schools

School facilities including hostels will not be used as shelters for the homeless during the lockdown, after legal opinion was obtained.  

The Gauteng government had identified 30 schools to be used as shelters for the homeless, abused women and indigent pupils during the period.  

The province has since confirmed that “due to unforeseen circumstances, the boarding school facilities as previously communicated, were unable to accommodate the needy”.

April 1 2020 - 14:23

More than 22,000 traffic officers deployed across SA

Transport minister Fikile Mbalula revealed on Wednesday that his department has deployed 22,347 traffic officers across the country to ensure compliance with government's 21-day lockdown.

Matthews Rakomane, (in brown) is a homeless man who is living in Pretoria and works as a part-time gardener he is now at Lyttleton community hall which is now a makeshift shelter for the homeless as SA enters its sixth day of 21 days of lockdown on April 1 2020.
Matthews Rakomane, (in brown) is a homeless man who is living in Pretoria and works as a part-time gardener he is now at Lyttleton community hall which is now a makeshift shelter for the homeless as SA enters its sixth day of 21 days of lockdown on April 1 2020.
Image: Thapelo Morebudi/The Sunday Times.

April 1 2020 13:21

WHO disputes claims that Covid-19 is airborne 

The World Health Organisation (WHO) has disputed claims that Covid-19 is airbone.

"There's news circulating that Covid-19 is airborne. But the WHO has disputed this entirely."

April 1 2020 11:36

First repatriation flight leaves SA for Brazil

A flight bound for Sao Paulo in Brazil departed OR Tambo International Airport in Johannesburg on Wednesday, Airports Company South Africa (Acsa) confirmed.

This was the first repatriation flight permitted in terms of revised regulations announced on Tuesday by transport minister Fikile Mbalula.

Acsa said 321 passengers boarded the LATAM flight. 

April 1 2020 12:21

New lockdown rules let taxis carry more passengers — with masks

Transport minister Fikile Mbalula has amended regulations governing public transport during the lockdown to extend taxi operating hours and allow them to carry up to 100% of their passenger capacity — provided passengers wear masks.

The changes, related to regulations issued in terms of the Disaster Management Act of  2002, were published in the Government Gazette on Tuesday.

Taxi associations, upset at the financial implications of running half-empty vehicles, threatened a shutdown earlier in the week. Essential services workers and the elderly, needing transport to collect social grants, were left stranded in parts of the country when taxis refused to operate.

Makhabane Safari (seated) is a homeless man who’s from Lesotho he came to South Africa looking for greener pastures ending up in the streets since he new no one he is now at Lyttleton community hall which is now a makeshift shelter for the homeless as SA enters day six of 21 days of lockdown on April 1 2020.
Makhabane Safari (seated) is a homeless man who’s from Lesotho he came to South Africa looking for greener pastures ending up in the streets since he new no one he is now at Lyttleton community hall which is now a makeshift shelter for the homeless as SA enters day six of 21 days of lockdown on April 1 2020.
Image: Thapelo Morebudi/The Sunday Times.

April 1 2020 11:07

Sassa confirms 92% social grant beneficiaries paid

The South African Social Security Agency (Sassa) has confirmed that 92% of social grant beneficiaries have been paid over a two-day period.

"More than 92% of beneficiaries paid in two days it never happened before. Let's keep our money in our cards we don't have to rush on the first day. Good thing is we [are] winning the social distancing war."

Payments of social grants to the elderly and persons with disabilities are being staggered through the week to curb overcrowding and long queues amid the Covid-19 lockdown.

April 1 2020 11:51

While St. Lucis residents are indoors, a hippo strolls through the empty streets

April 1 2020 - 10:09

Building in Durban's CBD under scrutiny after 'serious' Covid-19 complaint

Residents in a Durban building are being screened after “serious” allegations of suspected Covid-19 cases.

This is according to the department of economic development which, along with law enforcement agencies, shut down the building in the early hours of Wednesday after receiving a complaint.

“We received a serious complaint about people who alleged to have symptoms of coronavirus who live in a building in West Street (Dr Pixley Kaseme street)," said the department.

April 1 2020 - 9:24

Over 100 UCT students volunteer to man Tygerberg Hospital Covid-19 hotline

A little over 100 students from the University of Cape Town's faculty of health sciences have volunteered to man the Tygerberg Hospital Disaster Management covid-19 hotline.

Tygerberg Hospital is one of nine provincial centres identified for the isolation and treatment of patients infected with the coronavirus.

The response from students has been “overwhelming”, said president of the faculty’s UCT Surgical Society, Savannah Verhage, a fifth-year medical student with plans to become a paediatric surgeon who has been coordinating the volunteers from the various faculty student societies. They have been classified as emergency medical personnel and have permits that allow them to travel to and from the centre during the lockdown period. 

April 1 2020 - 7:14

Spaza shops to get financial relief for lockdown losses, but T&Cs apply

Small business development minister Khumbudzo Ntshavheni has unveiled a scheme to assist spaza shop owners during the lockdown.

Strict terms and conditions will apply, however.

The support to spaza shops will not discriminate on whether or they are owned by South Africans or foreign nationals. As long as they are properly registered, all shall receive assistance, said Ntshavheni,

Details about when applications will open will be announced on April 2, she added.

April 1 2020 - 6:51

Covid-19 claims life of stellar SA medical scientist Prof Gita Ramjee

Tributes have been pouring in from around the world for internationally acclaimed scientist, academic and women's rights campaigner Prof Gita Ramjee who died in a Durban hospital of Covid-19 complications on Tuesday.

A family member, who asked not to be named, confirmed Ramjee's death following complications arising from asthma and pneumonia and that she had been cremated. He said her husband, Praveen, a well known pharmacist was “lost” following her death.

At the time of her death, Ramjee worked at health care organisation Aurum Institute, which is regarded as a global authority on HIV and TB prevention and eradication.

April 1 2020 - 6:55

#StayAtHome campaign urges SA to use slogan on social media profile pictures 

Government has once again reminded South Africans to stay at home in order to contain the spread of the deadly Covid-19.

April 1 2020 - 7:08

Former ANC Western Cape chair Marius Fransman tests positive for Covid-19

Former Western Cape ANC chairperson Marius Fransman has tested positive for Covid-19.

Fransman made the announcement in a Facebook post on Tuesday evening.

“Since my return from abroad 2 weeks ago, I didn't feel too well and decided in line with health protocols and realising that this has become life's reality, to do a test last Monday.

Dear friends and colleagues COVID-19 Test Since my return from abroad 2weeks ago , I didn't feel too well, and...

Posted by Marius L Fransman on Tuesday, 31 March 2020
Residents of Eldorado Park, Johannesburg during the 21-day lockdown on March 30 2020.
Residents of Eldorado Park, Johannesburg during the 21-day lockdown on March 30 2020.
Image: ALON SKUY
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