COVID-19 LIVE UPDATES | Three more deaths recorded in SA, as cases climb - but 'no rapid explosion' in infections

28 April 2020 - 08:08 By TimesLIVE
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A man, who gave his name as Sipho, walks past a brightly-coloured mural, on Louis Botha Avenue in Johannesburg,on April 27 2020, while holding a bunch of flowers,during the extended Covid-19 lockdown.
A man, who gave his name as Sipho, walks past a brightly-coloured mural, on Louis Botha Avenue in Johannesburg,on April 27 2020, while holding a bunch of flowers,during the extended Covid-19 lockdown.

April 28 2020 - 22:16

Free State doctor dead from Covid-19, 135 health workers infected

At least one doctor has died of Covid-19 in SA, but he did not contract the respiratory illness in the country.

This was revealed by health minister Dr Zweli Mkhize, who said the government was doing its best to ensure that personal protective equipment (PPE) was provided for all health care workers.

April 28 2020 - 21:55

Here's where the Cuban doctors will be deployed to fight Covid-19

Health minister Zweli Mkhize has provided details of how the specialist doctors from Cuba who arrived in the country on Sunday will be deployed across the country.

Most of the doctors will be deployed in the Covid-19 hotspot provinces: the Western Cape, Gauteng and KwaZulu-Natal.

April 28 2020 - 20:31

Nine more cases of Covid-19 at correctional centres

Five remand detainees at Kgosi Mampuru II prison in Pretoria and four officials from the Western Cape are the latest people to contract Covid-19 in the correctional services department.

They bring the number of cases that have been recorded at correctional centres around the country to 138.

April 28 2020 - 20:15

Nearly 5,000 cases in SA, three more deaths recorded

SA now has 4,996 cases of Covid-19, health minister Dr Zweli Mkhize said on Tuesday.

Speaking at a briefing, Mkhize said that there were also three deaths, taking the national total to 93. All three deaths were in the Western Cape. Mkhize said that there were 185,497 tests conducted.

Mkhize said that the most common comorbidities of people who had died from Covid-19 in SA were hypertension, diabetes and obesity - and it was worrying that SA had "significant" numbers of people with these conditions.

It was also a concern that SA had high number of people with HIV/Aids and TB, and that we can't learn from other countries because this is a typically unique situation.

However, he said that SA had "not seen a rapid explosion of infections".

The minister also defend the national lockdown, saying that it had made a massive difference in flattening the curve, and spreading out the number of infections and pushing the expected peak in cases out to September from initial estimates of June.

He also welcomed the arrival of more than 200 Cuban doctors to "augment" SA resources.

"They are coming at our request... because they have a particular strength in community medicine, which is where SA is very weak," said Mkhize.

April 28 2020 - 20:14

Make sure it's safe or we won't go back to school: teachers' union

The government must provide cloth masks, hand sanitisers and thermal scanners before schools are allowed to reopen.

These are among a list of demands that the almost 21,900 members of the Suid-Afrikaanse Onderwysersunie (SAOU), who participated in an electronic poll, want to be implemented.

April 28 2020 - 19:56

Home affairs to return to normal hours, but still with limited services

The department of home affairs will resume normal operating hours from Monday and will expand its services to include the registration of newborn babies and collection of identity documents.

Since the lockdown on March 27, home affairs has been offering only three services: the issuing of death certificates, replacement birth certificates and replacement ID documents for people who may have lost or misplaced theirs.

April 28 2020 - 17:55

Western Cape farming town emerges as Covid-19 hotspot with 100 cases

The number of people with Covid-19 in the Cape Town township of Khayelitsha has grown by almost 250% in the past week.

In his daily bulletin on Tuesday, Western Cape premier Alan Winde said Khayelitsha had 205 cases at 5pm on Monday — up 247% on a week earlier and 30% in the past 24 hours.

Overall, the Western Cape has 1,778 confirmed cases — up 4.6% in the past 24 hours. Two more deaths have brought the fatalities to 35.

April 28 2020 - 17:43

Zweli Mkhize to address SA at 7.30pm on state of Covid-19 in SA

Health minister Dr Zweli Mkhize is scheduled to address SA at 7.30pm on Tuesday night on the current state of Covid-19 in the country.

In a short statement, the health ministry said Mkhize would be joined by deputy minister Dr Joe Phaahla, provincial MECs and experts from the NICD. This was to "unpack South Africa’s Covid-19 situational analysis and the way forward into a post lockdown scenario".

TimesLIVE will be taking the briefing live.

April 28 2020 - 17:42

Putin warns Russia has not reached peak of virus infections

President Vladimir Putin warned on Tuesday that Russia had not yet reached the peak of coronavirus infections and would only start looking at the possibility of lifting quarantines from May 12.

"The situation remains very difficult. The experts and scientists who we are in constant contact with to check our plans and measures say that the peak has not yet been reached," Putin said during a televised video-conference with regional officials.


April 28 2020 - 17:37

Employers urged to apply for UIF benefits for millions of employees

Only a fraction of the almost 2-million companies registered with the Unemployment Insurance Fund (UIF) have applied for the Covid-19 relief benefits on behalf of their employees during the lockdown.

This is a worrying matter for the government, which on Tuesday appealed to employers to register for the government scheme meant to benefit employees while they are not going to work during the lockdown.

April 28 2020 - 17:29

South African hospitals brace for coronavirus surge

Coronavirus has steadily spread across SA over the past two months, with 4,793 cases — the highest in the continent — and 90 deaths.

Almost five weeks of strict lockdown have slowed the increase, buying precious time for hospitals to prepare for an expected surge in infections.

Epidemiologists, however, warn of an exponential increase once lockdown restrictions are lifted.

April 28 2020 - 16:56

Italy's prime minister defends snail-paced end to lockdown

Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte defended himself on Tuesday from widespread criticism of his highly cautious plans for a slow-placed end to Europe's longest coronavirus lockdown.

The government has said strict curbs put in place seven weeks ago to curb the disease would be eased from May 4, when parks, factories and construction sites reopen. However shops must remain shuttered until May 18, while restaurants, bars and hairdressers will stay closed until June 1 and students won't be back at school before September.

The softly-softly approach has been criticised by businesses, lambasted by the opposition and even questioned by parties within Conte's fragile coalition, worried by the huge economic and social toll of the long-lasting clampdown. But the prime minister said he had no regrets.

"If I could turn the clock back, I'd do it all again," Conte told La Stampa daily. "I cannot let myself be swayed by public opinion, even if I understand those feelings very well myself."

Conte acknowledged the scientific committee advising him was "rigid", but said the overriding concern was to prevent a second wave of infections.

- Reuters

April 28 2020 - 16:46

April 28 2020 - 16:32

It's no surprise Covid-19 infections are rising during lockdown, say experts

Experts in the field of viruses and diseases on Monday moved to clarify that it was not surprising that coronavirus infections had continued to spread despite a lockdown which has forced many to remain in their homes for the past five weeks.

On Monday alone, the country recorded 247 new infections, bringing the total to 4,793.

“The lockdown doesn’t get rid of the virus. It just limits the transmission. We are still leaving home for various reasons. It just decreases the rate. It’s not surprising we still see an increase in numbers. It’s nothing unique that we are identifying more cases,” said Shabir Madhi, professor of vaccinology at the University of Witwatersrand.

April 28 2020 - 16:19

Judgment reserved in court challenge over 'racist' Covid-19 fund access

The Pretoria high court has reserved judgment in AfriForum's legal challenge to the race criteria used to determine which businesses score state-sponsored Covid-19 relief bailouts.

According to AfriForum, presiding judge Jody Kollapen will hand down judgement in the matter before the end of the week.

April 28 2020 - 16:10

High demand for BCG vaccine may leave newborns vulnerable to TB, experts warn

A spike in demand for BCG vaccines after research suggested it could protect people from Covid-19 is putting supplies under strain, South African TB experts and paediatricians have warned.

They said those demanding the vaccine included health workers “requesting revaccination as protection for themselves and vaccination of their non-BCG-vaccinated dependents, especially older children”.

In a letter published in the International Journal of Tuberculosis and Lung Disease,  infectious disease experts, mostly from Stellenbosch University, said responsible stewardship of BCG in the context of Covid-19 was “urgently needed”.

April 28 2020 - 16:03

IRR calls for lifting of lockdown, says not doing so will push more to poverty

The longer the lockdown remains in place, the more people will be pushed into poverty, the Institute of Race Relations (IRR) said.

The IRR said mounting hunger, hardship and economic decline emphasised the need for government to lift the current lockdown.

These arguments are contained in a submission made by the think tank to government on the national response to the Covid-19 crisis.

April 28 2020 - 15:49

Tourism industry to know on Friday about BBBEE requirements for relief

The tourism industry will have to wait until Friday for clarity about the requirements to access government’s relief fund.

This was confirmed by tourism minister Mmamoloko Kubayi-Ngubane during a briefing by the economic ministers cluster on measures to assist business during the Covid-19 lockdown.

April 28 2020 - 15:14

Stop using surgical and N95 masks and use cloth masks instead, says health ministry

Government has called for everyone to use face masks outside the confines of their homes, and has requested that members of the public stop using surgical masks and opt for cloth ones instead.

Dr Anban Pillay. acting director-general for national health insurance at the health department, said in a statement: “The public should not use surgical (medical) or N-95 respirator masks. Surgical masks and N-95 masks are critical supplies that must be reserved for health-care workers and other medical first responders. The public is strongly discouraged from using these masks.”

April 28 2020 - 15:06

Discovery Health employee in Port Elizabeth tests positive for Covid-19

A Discovery Health employee in Port Elizabeth has tested positive for Covid-19.

This is according to an e-mail sent by Discovery Health service executive Hennie van Staden telling staff that one of their colleagues had tested positive for the virus at the weekend.

April 28 2020 - 15:01

Plans to approach government on playing PSL matches behind closed doors at level 3 lockdown

The Premier Soccer League (PSL) task team on playing matches behind closed doors are approaching the government to try to find out if football can resume in some form at level 3 of the national lockdown‚ AmaZulu general manager Lunga Sokhela has indicated.

Sokhela said‚ from what has been revealed so far on the government’s five coronavirus levels‚ professional football would only appear possible at the final stage‚ level 1.

April 28 2020 - 14:53

Landlords offer more shops rent discounts and deferments

Landlords have increased and extended temporary rent reductions for retailers whose shops have been closed by the lockdown.

While a partial reopening of clothing and other non-essential stores is planned from Friday, demand is expected to be low as cash-strapped shoppers prioritise food and staple goods.

April 28 2020 - 14:50

MK veterans praise Cyril Ramaphosa but oppose sale of cigarettes

The Umkhonto we Sizwe Military Veterans Association (MKMVA) has lauded President Cyril Ramaphosa for  “excellent hard work” in leading an impressive government response to the Covid-19 pandemic.

However, the ANC-aligned military veterans association said it “strongly opposes” the lifting of the ban on cigarettes sales and “temptation” to reopen schools when the country moves to level four of the lockdown on Friday, as pronounced by Ramaphosa last week.

April 28 2020 - 14:46

WATCH | Prayer and tears as Checkers staff mourn colleagues who died of coronavirus

Video footage of Checkers staff at the Bayside Mall, Cape Town, mourning their two colleagues who apparently died of coronavirus complications shows the range of emotions of those on the front line during the pandemic.

Decked in full protective gear, the staff hold candles while watching as one woman sits on the floor, praying in Xhosa.

April 28 2020 - 14:42

'I'm not struggling, I am surviving': waste pickers in lockdown

They perform one of SA's most important services - collecting recyclables that would otherwise swell the country's rubbish dumps and burden municipal trash collection - but the coronavirus lockdown has left thousands of waste pickers without any way to make a living. While municipal refuse removers were classified as essential workers, waste pickers were excluded from the list. Lockdown measures are expected to be relaxed slightly from May 1 2020, but the group still faces an uncertain future.

April 28 2020 - 14:15

R3.3bn paid out by UIF: Kubayi-Ngubane

Nkhensani Kubayi-Ngubane, tourism minister and chair of the economic cluster of ministers, said on Tuesday that the government would begin a phased-in resumption of economic activity.

However, some industries “would not be able to resume to full production” under level 4, or even some lower levels, while the risk of Covid-19 spread was still high.

Kubayi-Ngubane said that the tourism industry had been hit all over the world, and SA was no different. She said a post-Covid-19 plan was established for the sector.

She added that the Unemployment Insurance Fund had paid out R3.3bn so far, bur 10,000 applications could not be completed due to errors.

Kubayi-Ngubane said that R530m had been set aside for SMMEs, with R235m already approved - with had protected "over 11,000 jobs".

On top of this, the spaza shop support scheme - which is just a week old - had already received over 104 applications, with 88 already approved.

Minister in the presidency Jackson Mthembu, who is acting communications minister, said that the health and communications departments had not yet “shared notes” on how cellphone tracing had been used to track Covid-19 contacts.

April 28 2020 - 13:14

Covid-19 national command council's economic cluster to outline socio-economic relief plan

April 28 2020 - 12:59

City Power employee with Covid-19 recovering well at home

A City Power employee who tested positive for Covid-19 is recovering well at home and is in good spirits, a doctor from the power utility said on Tuesday.

Two weeks ago, City Power shut down its main warehouse in Booysens, Johannesburg, after the employee tested positive.

“She is doing very well. She is still at home in self-isolation and there were no complications. She was never admitted to hospital and had only mild symptoms,” Dr Sibusiso Makamu told TimesLIVE.

The department of health rolled out Covid-19 screening and testing stations across Alexandra township, Johannesburg on April 27 2020.
The department of health rolled out Covid-19 screening and testing stations across Alexandra township, Johannesburg on April 27 2020.

April 28 2020 - 12:57

WATCH | Liquor worth more than R60,000 stolen from Tops in Free State

Thieves have made off with alcohol worth more than R60,000 from a Spar Tops in Botshabelo, Free State, police said.

In a video shared on social media, a group of robbers in balaclavas can be seen breaking into the store through a security gate. The group jumps over the counter and starts filling their bags. They make one last trip down the aisles with racks of alcohol before fleeing.    

According to police spokesperson Brig Motantsi Makhele, the owner said that he conducted an inspection at the store on April 24 to ensure it was properly locked.

April 28 2020 - 12:41

Celebrated SA authors call on president to declare books essential

Redi Tlhabi, Lauren Beukes, Lebo Mashile and Jonny Steinberg are among a host of writers who have written to President Cyril Ramaphosa asking for the book sales to be declared an essential service.

The open letter, penned by author Mark Gevisser, says all books should be “available online, and for delivery” as “all books are educational”.

Other signatories among the more than 350 include Sisonke Msimang, Prof Njabulo Ndebele, Ronnie Kasrils, Ferial Haffajee, Zakes Mda and cartoonist Zapiro.

April 28 2020 - 12:33

WATCH | Heartwarming moments as Covid-19 survivor gets standing ovation from PE hospital staff

Retired dad Andre Nel is one of 1,470 Covid-19 South African patients who have recovered from the potentially deadly illness.

Nel received a heartwarming send-off from health-care specialists and staff at Life St George's Hospital in Port Elizabeth last week.

DispatchLIVE reported that Nel spent 16 days in hospital fighting for his life. For most of that time he was on a ventilator or under sedation.

April 28 2020 - 12:31

From Covid-19 to inequality: five takeouts from Cyril Ramaphosa's Freedom Day address

As South Africans commemorated the 26th anniversary since the country's first democratic elections in 1994, President Cyril Ramaphosa on Monday delivered a virtual address to the nation.

Here are five important takeouts from the president's address.

April 28 2020 - 11:42

'I'm not sorry we arrested Muslims, I'm apologising for how it happened': Bheki Cele

Police minister Bheki Cele has moved to clarify he is not apologetic about the arrest of a group of Muslim worshippers for flouting lockdown regulations by gathering for prayers in Mpumalanga last week.

Cele said he had been criticised for seemingly apologising to Muslims but not to Christians. Among the criticism doing the rounds on social media was that no apologies were forthcoming for Christians who were arrested after being found breaching lockdown regulations, nor for people who were gathering for traditional ceremonies.

April 28 2020 - 11:40

ANC supports use of BBBEE to determine who gets tourism relief funds

The ANC parliamentary study group on tourism has come out in support of tourism minister Mmamoloko Kubayi-Ngubane's use of BBBEE as a requirement for businesses to qualify for the tourism relief fund.

This comes as the North Gauteng High Court on Tuesday is due to hear an application by AfriForum and Solidarity, which want the court to scrap the use of BBBEE.

Last week, the court postponed an urgent application by AfriForum to have the two separate applications heard together.

April 28 2020 - 11:14

The movement of people will still be limited during level 4 of lockdown

April 28 2020- 11:01

WATCH | Mitchells Plain emergency centre sees 'dramatic decline' in violence during Covid-19 lockdown

Doctors say there has been a 45% drop in violent trauma cases since February 2020 in Mitchells Plain District Hospital - and they believe it is a direct result of the ban on alcohol.

April 28 2020 - 10:58

Global Covid-19 cases surpass 3 million mark

April 28 2020 - 10:39

Holomisa coordinates R700k PPE towards Eastern Cape's fight against Covid-19

United Democratic Movement (UDM) leader Bantu Holomisa has handed over R702,000 worth of personal protective equipment (PPE) to heathcare centres, special schools, hospices and old age homes in the Eastern Cape.

Holomisa said he was donating the PPE in his capacity as the chair of the Champions of the Environment Foundation.

The beneficiaries are in the OR Tambo, Alfred Nzo, Joe Gqabi, Amathole, Chris Hani, Buffalo City and Nelson Mandela Bay metros, reports DispatchLIVE.

April 28 2020 - 10:33

Bringing in Cuban doctors is ‘premature’ – Medical association

The South African Medical Association (Sama) says the arrival of over 200 medical specialists from Cuba is a “little bit premature”.

“We always need expertise from other people and it is always welcome to have them on board and in our country, but for now I think it is a bit premature.

“So far we have managed quite well without outside help,” Sama chairperson Dr Angelique Coetzee said on the SAfm Sunrise show with Stephen Grootes.

April 28 2020 - 10:30

Brrrrrr! Cold and snowy weather expected in some areas of SA where Covid-19 is rife

Intense snowfall with severe thunderstorms, heavy downpours and cold temperatures are expected in some parts of SA, where coronavirus is rife.

The South African Weather Services (SAWS) issued a warning of adverse weather conditions that will hit over the central and eastern parts of the country until Wednesday

April 28 2020 - 10:29

Public servants threaten legal action against Limpopo justice department for not providing PPE

The Public Servants' Association (PSA) has threatened legal action against the Limpopo department of justice and constitutional development if the department continues to ignore calls to provide personal protective equipment (PPE) to its employees who work at courts.

“The association is disturbed by reported non-compliance with Covid-19 regulations and the department of employment and labour’s guidelines to ensure safe and healthy work practices for employees of the department of justice and constitutional development in Limpopo," the PSA said. 

April 28 2020 - 10:27

Covid-19 infections continue to rise behind bars, prisons record 129 cases

The number of coronavirus infections has continued to rise in South Africa’s prisons, with only a few recoveries so far. The number stands at 129.

On Monday,  the department recorded 11 new positive cases.

April 28 2020 - 08:56

Pineapple sales soar to 90,000 in a day from 10,000 amid booze ban

Home brewing during the Covid-19 ban on alcohol sales pushes up the price of pineapple, while potatoes and avocados are cheaper.

Four weeks into lockdown and without a rotisserie chicken in sight, South Africans are reconnecting with their kitchens. But it’s not demand for humble ingredients such as potatoes, garlic or onions that is rising exponentially, but rather pineapples.

This is probably not because homebound South Africans have a hankering for a Southeast Asian-inspired stir-fry or even a (deeply underrated) Hawaiian pizza. Rather, the right combination of pineapple, sugar and yeast can result in an alcoholic brew with a kick — something consumers are craving amid prohibition.

April 28 2020 - 07:52

Slashed wages just the start of spiralling misery

A pay cut or no job after lockdown.

In light of that grim reality, experts say unorthodox financial methods are needed to avoid social unrest.

April 28 2020 - 07:50

Suspects use Covid-19 branding to cross borders to collect dagga

Three suspects were arrested in Ekulindeni, Mpumalanga after they allegedly impersonated Covid-19 officials in a bid to cross borders.

Police spokesman Brig Leonard Hlathi said officers received information that two vehicles that were branded with Covid-19 insignia, allegedly participated in criminal activities.

Police followed up on the information and spotted a VW Polo, Sedan and a Toyota Hilux Bakkie that both matched the description, Hlathi said.

“Upon stopping the said vehicles, police found three occupants pretending to be Covid-19 officials on deployment."

April 28 2020 - 07:45

Three funny moments that saw Ramaphosa lift SA's spirits during lockdown

President Cyril Ramaphosa's Covid-19 addresses to the nation have provided some entertainment for South Africans during these unprecedented times.

His latest address, on Thursday, was no exception as many were left in stitches after he struggled with a face mask.

Here is a recap of three funny moments that saw Ramaphosa lift Mzansi's spirits during the lockdown.

April 28 2020 - 07:30

Stage 4 will be a gemors the state will battle to control: experts

A staggered lockdown will be difficult to police and government systems may not be able to handle it.

This is the warning from experts who say different levels for different provinces and metros are a recipe for confusion.

April 28 2020 - 07:25

Man who died of Covid-19-related illness left note for wife and children - 'I'm lucky to have you'

Katie Coelho has shared a heartfelt note written by her husband, Jonathan, who died after testing positive for Covid-19.

She said his death came as a shock as nurses had told her he would recover. He was 32. 

“A nurse told me she has no idea what happened and why,” she wrote on Facebook.

She said she was able to sit next to her husband and tell him how much she and the children loved him. When she was given his belongings, including his cellphone, she found a note for her and their two children.

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