COVID-19 WRAP | Big jump in SA death toll, Parly prepares to go back to work and Durban hotel lights up

16 April 2020 - 07:57 By TimesLIVE
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The army and police hand pamphlets to residents on the street of a densely populated Alexandra township in Johannesburg.
The army and police hand pamphlets to residents on the street of a densely populated Alexandra township in Johannesburg.
Image: Alon Skuy

April 16 2020 - 21:50

Tsogo Sun's Maharani and Elangeni hotels shine bright during SA's dark days

Southern Sun’s Elangeni and Maharani hotels have come out blazing with a powerful message of hope and solidarity to inspire South Africans, by simply leaving a few lights on.

On Tuesday, the hotel group changed the facade of the hotel, by constructing a heart and the words, hope and love by switching off some lights and leaving others on in the hotel rooms.

April 16 2020 - 20:35

Massive climb in SA Covid-19 deaths

Health minister Dr Zweli Mkhize announced on Thursday night that there were 14 additional Covid-19 deaths in SA, taking the total to 48.

There were also an extra 99 recorded cases, meaning that there have now been 2,605 cases across the country.

April 16 2020 - 20:10

Parliament is back in business — but focus is on Covid-19 interventions

Meetings of parliamentary committees who oversee government departments at the forefront of the coronavirus response will be prioritised.

These committees will be required to intensify their oversight engagements, particularly on Covid-19 matters, and in some cases will conduct joint meetings.

April 16 2020 - 18:36

UK extends lockdown measures for at least three more weeks

Britain extended its nationwide lockdown for at least another three weeks on Thursday, as stand-in leader Dominic Raab ordered Britons to stay at home to prevent the spread of a coronavirus outbreak which has already claimed over 138,000 lives globally.

“Relaxing any of the measures currently in place would risk damage to both public health and the economy,” he told reporters.

April 16 2020 - 18:15

Durban food factory closed after employee tests positive for Covid-19

Fry Group Foods — a producer of plant-based food — has temporarily closed its Durban factory after an employee tested positive for Covid-19.

MD Caroline Garnett said in a statement on Thursday that since receiving the news late last week, the company had been working with the health department to screen and “where necessary” test production staff.

April 16 2020 - 18:14

Facebook tries to flatten the curve of fake and harmful Covid-19 news

Facebook on Thursday announced it had partnered more than 60 third-party fact-checking organisations across the globe to help curb fake and harmful news relating to Covid-19.

The organisations cover news and information in 50 languages.

April 16 2020 - 18:01

Three new hospitals on way as Winde works with supermarkets on their precautions

Three temporary Covid-19 hospitals with between 300 and 650 beds are on their way in the Western Cape, premier Alan Winde said on Thursday.

Two of the hospitals would be in the Cape Town metro, home to 84% of the province's coronavirus patients so far.

April 16 2020 - 17:41

Extending Zimbabwe's lockdown 'seems necessary': rights watchdog

Zimbabwe is yet to meet the World Health Organisation (WHO) targets for lifting Covid-19 lockdowns, with the country left with just five days to end its 21-day lockdown, a human rights watch body said.

According to the WHO, Covid-19 transitions have to be at a controllable level, outbreak risks minimised in special settings and importation risks managed. Also, communities should be fully educated about the pandemic and preventive measures in place against Covid-19 infection in essential places that people go to such as workplaces and schools.

April 16 2020 - 17:35

Overcrowded homeless camp a Covid-19 risk: Doctors Without Borders

Cape Town's lockdown camp for homeless people is a potential breeding ground for coronavirus and tuberculosis, says the international charity Doctors Without Borders.

“If anyone were to develop Covid-19 or TB in Strandfontein temporary relocation camp the chances for medical staff detecting it early are small, whereas the risk for transmission to many others is very high because of gross overcrowding and because the availability of screening and health care services is erratic,” said Dr Gilles van Cutsem, a senior TB/HIV adviser with the organisation, also known by its French name Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF).

April 16 2020 - 16:59

More than 2,000 beds waiting as Gauteng prepares for Covid-19 peak

Gauteng is making significant progress in preparing public health infrastructure for the period when the Covid-19 pandemic may peak, Gauteng premier David Makhura said on Thursday.

These measures include adding an additional 2,163 beds to accommodate Covid-19 patients, and increased screening and testing.

April 16 2020 - 16:45

Top Eastern Cape politicians accused of violating lockdown regulations

Cases of contravening national lockdown regulations at the weekend have been opened against four Eastern Cape politicians, DispatchLIVE reported.

DA MP Mlindi Nhanha laid criminal charges against Ingquza Hill municipal speaker Ntandokazi Capa and former mayor-turned-church-minister Pat Mdingi after they apparently attended a Good Friday church service inside municipal premises, where regulations were allegedly not adhered to.

April 16 2020 - 16:39

Government wants to 'avoid a rush of people' when lockdown is lifted

The government is consulting experts on a “risk adjusted approach”, which will determine which industries should reopen and how soon they should do so after the lifting of the nationwide lockdown.

Speaking at a press conference to announce new amendments to the government’s regulations under the state of disaster, ministers were at pains to emphasise that it would not be business as usual after the lockdown.

April 16 2020 - 16:31

Unions open case against Hilton College for 'flouting lockdown laws' after workers found planting trees

The National Education, Health and Allied Workers’ Union (Nehawu) and the Congress of South African Trade Unions (Cosatu) in KwaZulu-Natal have opened a case against Hilton College for alleged contravention of the lockdown regulations.

This after the school said that workers who were planting trees as part of a national forestation programme were deemed essential and they had a permit to prove it.

April 16 2020 - 16:18

Employee at PE Woolworths Food store tests positive for Covid-19

An employee at the Access Park Woolworths in Port Elizabeth has tested positive for Covid-19.

Woolworths spokesperson Silindile Gumede said in a statement that the staff member, from the store along Buffelsfontein Road, was recovering in isolation, HeraldLIVE reported.

April 16 2020 - 16:12

Let them drink cognac: Nairobi governor's advice to 'kill' coronavirus

The flamboyant governor of Kenya's capital Nairobi has distributed bottles of cognac to the poor, saying it protects against the new coronavirus, though the drink maker and national government chided him for propagating a myth.

Mike Mbuvi Sonko, known for his chunky gold jewellery, impromptu raps and arrest last year, posted images of Hennessy bottles tucked inside food packages with flour and other staples on social media this week.

— Reuters

April 16 2020 - 16:04

Prison officials fear for their families' lives amid Covid-19 outbreak

The families of correctional services officials staying at the East London and Port Elizabeth's St Albans prisons fear for the lives of their children, after at least 27 officials and 56 inmates have tested positive for Covid-19.

The department of justice & correctional services has confirmed cases at the two Eastern Cape facilities, and also at the Worcester prison in the Western Cape.

April 16 2020 - 16:02

Let them drink cognac: Nairobi governor's advice to 'kill' coronavirus

Let them drink cognac: Nairobi governor's advice to 'kill' coronavirus

A third of workers in Africa are likely to lose their jobs as the coronavirus sinks economies and changes how we live.

This is according to Elsie Kanza, head of Africa for the World Economic Forum, which took part in a live virtual press conference on Thursday afternoon alongside the WHO African Region and Africa’s arm of the Red Cross.

April 16 2020 - 14:36

KZN informal traders and small businesses to get help with Covid-19 relief applications

The KwaZulu-Natal government and public entity Trade and Investment KwaZulu-Natal (TIKZN) will help informal traders and small businesses to apply for Covid-19 relief funding.

“The KwaZulu-Natal provincial department of Economic Development Tourism and Environmental Affairs (EDTEA) and its public entity TIKZN wish to express their support for all businesses and SMMEs who have been negatively affected by the Covid-19 pandemic.

“The national government has set up funds to support various categories of businesses from informal traders, to SMMEs and co-operatives to cope with the financial circumstances they find themselves in.

April 16 2020 - 14:32

State of national disaster regulations under lockdown

April 16 2020 - 14:27

Vodacom sees 40% jump in data usage as people stay at home

Mobile phone network operator Vodacom said on Thursday that data traffic on its network has jumped 40% since a nationwide lockdown began as people work from home to curb the spread of the coronavirus.

The telecoms sector has experienced a spike in network data traffic in recent weeks after the South African government imposed a five-week lockdown to the end of April.

Vodacom said that if necessary it would offload more capacity to the Rain network in terms of its existing 4G roaming agreement with the private mobile data-only network provider.

April 16 2020 - 14:22

Government starts to ease restrictions but won't 'open floodgates' after April 30

Local government minister Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma says SA’s nationwide lockdown will be eased in an incremental and orderly manner. 

She said the country "will not open the floodgates" at the end of the lockdown on April 30. 

“We don’t know for sure that the lockdown will end on April 30. Even if it does we can’t open the floodgates. Every week new conditions will be coming on stream. Some regulations will remain in place for a very long time,” Dlamini-Zuma said. 

April 16 2020 - 14:17

Reports of discrimination against Africans in China 'painful': Pandor

International relations and co-operation minister Naledi Pandor says it’s been painful hearing reports about the mistreatment of Africans in China during the Covid-19 pandemic.

“South Africa abhors racism, prejudice and discrimination and we reject any treatment of a person in a negative way because of their colour, their gender and all the other facets that are within our constitution,” she said. 

“We firmly believe in equality and so we have made our feelings known through the appropriate channels - the embassy here as well as through the African Union which has been in communication with the representatives of the People’s Republic of China in Addis Ababa.”

April 16 2020 - 14:12

Covid-19: Wave of prosecutions' imminent for companies inflating prices

The Competition Commission has warned that there will be a wave of prosecutions involving companies that have excessively inflated prices.

Commissioner Tembinkosi Bonakele said the Competition Tribunal would next Friday hear a case against a company accused of excessive pricing of facial masks.

The company allegedly priced its masks at 12 times the original price.

April 16 2020 - 14:10

City Power shuts warehouse after employee tests positive for Covid-19

City Power has shut down the utility’s main warehouse in Booysens, Johannesburg, after an employee tested positive for Covid-19.

MMC for environment and infrastructure Mpho Moerane said the employee was resting in self-isolation at home. Moerane said the city had informed the National Institute for Communicable Diseases (NICD), which would help to trace contacts.

April 16 2020 - 13:38

Ban on cigarette sales stays

Is there a lift on the ban of selling cigarettes? "No... that has been answered," said minister in the presidency Jackson Mthembu.

Earlier, Dlamini-Zuma said the alcohol ban also remained in force until the end of April and that no transportation of any alcohol would be allowed - except alcohol that is used for sanitising.

April 16 2020 - 13:28

Defence minister 'saddened' by Alex death

Defence minister Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula said the army was sad about reports of a man killed by soldiers in the Johannesburg township of Alexandra - but added that people should not venture outside their homes.

"We received the sad news over the weekend of a death in Alex... allegations have been made which point to the SA National Defence Force... just to say, we've noted this report.

"We requested [soldiers] to visit the family home... to reassure the family that there is an investigation which is currently going on by the SA Police Services and the military police... we are therefore unable to comment on what the next course of action will be."

She said she was saddened by the news and hoped the investigation underway would be able to guide the SANDF on what actions to take.

"Obviously the law should take its course."

But she added that people should remain in their homes and not "venture out" to "check" what soldiers are doing in the streets, "or even to provoke them".

She urged especially young people not to go out and risk their lives.

The minister then commented on a "giggle" during the briefing while she was talking.

"It's nice to be young," she said to the apparent "giggler", telling the culprit that he had probably not lost a father yet.

April 16 2020 - 13:22

Mines to reopen in phases

Minister of minerals and energy resources Gwede Mantashe said the reopening of mines would also happen in phases.

"There's full commitment in the industry to contribute to fighting Covid-19."

Mining minister Gwede Mantashe at the Thursday briefing
Mining minister Gwede Mantashe at the Thursday briefing
Image: Jairus Mmutle/GCIS

April 16 2020 - 13:13

Can neighbourhood watch groups help cops?

Police Minister Bheki Cele said several neighbourhood watch groups have approached the police, offering to help with patrols.

He said it was problematic that it was not clear if those employed by these groups had been vetted.

"The question of patrol can be done by the people who have a line of authority... I don't know if you do know where to go if neighbourhood watch does something wrong."

He added that the police was ready to engage with community policing forums.

April 16 2020 - 12:54

'The lockdown opening will be incremental'

"We don't know but for now, the lockdown will end on April 30 but even if it ends, you can't just open the floodgates in one day," said Dlamini-Zuma.

She said the lockdown would be opened in "an orderly, incremental manner".

"We are going to be announcing every week which areas are being opened... and the conditions of those openings."

Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs minister Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma at a government briefing on the regulations for the lockdown extension.
Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs minister Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma at a government briefing on the regulations for the lockdown extension.
Image: Jairus Mmutle/GCIS

April 16 2020 - 12:41

'Not everything will go back to normal'

Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs minister Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma says even if the lockdown ends, some regulations will remain in place.

"We are not coming up with many new regulations... we are extending the regulations that exist. We will announce a few amendments to those regulations," she said at a briefing on Thursday afternoon.

"There are measures that will remain after the lockdown... it doesn't mean everything will go back to normal."

For the lockdown extension, she said regulations around funerals would remain the same and that only 50 people would be allowed to attend.

Turning to children living separately with both parents, she said regulations would allow children to move between the two parents.

On mining and electricity supply, Dlamini-Zuma said: "All the mines that supply Eskom must be fully operational."

The rest of the mining sector will be allowed to operate at a 50% capacity.

Referring to new regulations around essential services, she said some amendments would be made.

"Because of the extension of the lockdown, it's clear we need to make sure there are warehouses that are open... to supply essential services.

Repairs to vehicles used in essential services will be allowed, as well as emergency repairs at homes. 

April 16 2020 - 11:50

WATCH LIVE | Gauteng briefs media on containing Covid-19 spread

April 16 2020 - 11:42

Back to school first for grades 12 and seven if lockdown lifts at month end

Pupils in grades 12 and seven will be the first to return to school on May 6 if President Cyril Ramaphosa lifts the lockdown at the end of the month.

This is according to proposals contained in the department of basic education's ''draft post Covid-19 lockdown recovery plan” which was discussed with teacher unions and governing body associations on Wednesday.

April 16 2020 - 11:40

Can you say 'stay at home' in SA's official languages?

April 16 2020 - 11:35

'Today was supposed to be freedom day': social media on day 21 of lockdown

As SA reached day 21 of the Covid-19 lockdown on Thursday, some South Africans took to social media to share stories about what they would have got up to on what was - before the extension - supposed to be the last day of lockdown.

April 16 2020 - 11:30

WATCH LIVE | Covid-19 command council gives update on lockdown regulations

Ministers involved in the national command council on Covid-19 will on Thursday brief the media on the lockdown regulations.

SA will enter into the second phase of the lockdown after it was extended by the government as a result of increasing Covid-19 cases.

April 16 2020 11:20

NSPCA probes 'barbaric' videos of live frogs, fish being eaten in 'lockdown challenge'

The National Council of SPCA is investigation videos of three South Africans who allegedly ate live animals during a viral lockdown challenge.

After President Cyril Ramaphosa implemented the national lockdown, many people have resorted to various challenges, such as downing raw eggs, to keep themselves amused while cooped up at home.

Thousands of social media users have uploaded videos of themselves downing a glass of raw egg, sugar and a shot of alcohol. Some went as far as downing an entire bottle of whiskey or rum. After posting their videos, social media users nominate and tag friends, challenging them to do the same. 

April 16 2020 - 11:17

Mbalula to release Easter Weekend traffic statistics on Friday

April 16 2020 - 10:35

Mkhize meets with Mpumalanga health MEC to discuss flattening Covid-19 curve

April 16 2020 - 10:12

Government ramps up campaign against Covid-19 fake news

The government has put in place a hi-tech monitoring and evaluation process to tackle fake news being shared on various platforms and have them investigated by police for prosecution.

“We are stepping up our campaign against digital misinformation, particularly in relation to Covid-19 and related actions such as the national lockdown,” acting minister of communications Jackson Mthembu said on Wednesday.

Mthembu said once fake news items or social media posts had been identified, the platform owners would be notified to take down the posts.

Keeping Tshwane clean in the time of Covid-19

April 16 2020 - 10:05

April 16 2020 - 09:00

EXPLAINED: How Covid-19 spreads

April 16 2020 - 08:50

Police 10111 call centre in Cape Town closed after two staff get Covid-19

National police say the 10111 emergency call centre in Maitland, Cape Town, has been shut down after two employees tested positive for Covid-19.

Police spokesperson Brig Vish Naidoo said the call centre was closed at 4pm on Wednesday after staff from separate shifts were confirmed to have contracted the coronavirus.

Naidoo said evacuation, screening and testing and decontamination processes were immediately conducted at the centre.

April 16 2020 - 07:40

Petition for R500 boost to child support grants nears target of 600,000 signatures

A campaign to persuade the government to urgently increase child support grants by R500 for six months has received 557,707 out of a target of 600,000 signatures.

A group of NGOs and academics wrote to President Cyril Ramaphosa last week. The government said it was considering their request to mitigate the impact of the coronavirus pandemic.

"Yes, I can confirm that we are looking at adjusting temporarily the child-support grant and old-age pension grant," said finance minister Tito Mboweni on Tuesday.

April 16 2020 - 07:30

Tiger Brands closes Albany bakery in Durban after workers test positive for Covid-19

Food manufacturing giant Tiger Brands has temporarily closed its Durban bakery after its staff tested positive Covid-19.

In a statement issued on Wednesday, the company said that it had close to the bakery as a precautionary measure and that they had contacted the department of health (DOH) and the National Institute for Communicable Diseases (NICD).

April 16 2020 - 07:20

SA throws weight behind WHO after Trump pulls funding

Health minister Dr Zweli Mkhize has thrown his - and SA's - full weight behind the World Health Organisation (WHO) as controversy swells over the actions of US President Donald Trump.

Speaking on Wednesday night, Mkhize, who did not mention Trump specifically, spoke about an issue "that has been raging in the media" - a clear reference to the US pulling funding from the WHO.

"I do want to say that on behalf of ourselves in South Africa, we have full confidence both in the WHO and the director-general, Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus," he said.

Peng Jing, 24, and Yao Bin, 28, pose for their wedding photography shoot after the lockdown was lifted in Wuhan, capital of Hubei province and China's epicentre of the novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak, April 15, 2020.
Peng Jing, 24, and Yao Bin, 28, pose for their wedding photography shoot after the lockdown was lifted in Wuhan, capital of Hubei province and China's epicentre of the novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak, April 15, 2020.
Image: REUTERS/Aly Song

April 16 2020 - 07:18

Shops, hospitals shut as virus strikes frontline workers

Pandemic frontline workers in retail and healthcare have begun to feel the pinch, with shops and hospital units across SA shuttered because of staff infections.

With a lack of protective equipment and little government intervention, they feel critically exposed.

April 16 2020 - 07:15

Maak ’n plan, ministers: Cabinet holds SA’s most crucial meeting

Saving jobs and lives.

This is expected to dominate the agenda as cabinet performs a delicate balancing act to cushion a jobs bloodbath during the pandemic.

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