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COVID-19 WRAP | Covid-19 deaths surpass 150 mark, was moving SA to level 4 the right decision?

06 May 2020 - 07:40 By TimesLIVE

May 6 2020 - 18:51

Government ditches 'grace period' in new rules for public transport

The government has removed a one-hour "grace period" for taxis and other public transport vehicles, changing when they may operate under level 4 of the lockdown.

In a gazette published on Wednesday, transport minister Fikile Mbalula said public transport was allowed to operate from 5am to 7pm.

"The driver must ensure that the drop-off is completed by 7pm," the amendment to section 8(1) of the regulations reads.

May 6 2020 - 18:44

Ramaphosa in meeting with command council to discuss efficiency of level 4 

May 6 2020 - 17:37

Salomon Kalou handshake video 'shocked' German politicians

A video of Hertha Berlin forward Salomon Kalou shaking hands with his team-mates "shocked" key German politicians, who are set to decide Wednesday whether the Bundesliga can resume later this month.

"The video has done the German Football League (DFL) and professional football a disservice," Anja Stahmann, chairwoman of Germany's regional sports ministers, told radio station RBB on Wednesday.

"I have heard from colleagues that they are shocked and shaken."

On Monday, the former Chelsea forward was suspended by Hertha after posting a video to Facebook showing him greeting team-mates and club employees with handshakes, flaunting hygiene guidelines laid out by the league.

May 6 2020 - 17:25

Pompeo presses China but acknowledges 'no certainty' coronavirus from lab

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo on Wednesday renewed his widely contested charge that the coronavirus pandemic likely originated in a Chinese laboratory, but acknowledged there was no certainty.

Pompeo renewed his call for global pressure on China to provide more data on the origins of the illness.

"We don't have certainty, and there is significant evidence that this came from the laboratory. Those statements can both be true," the former CIA chief told reporters when pressed on his statements.

"The American people remain at risk because we do not know ... whether it began in the lab or whether it began someplace else," he said. "There's an easy way to find out the answer to that -- transparency, openness -- the kinds of things that nations do when they really want to be part of solving a global pandemic."

Pompeo has been at the forefront of bringing into the mainstream a theory that the SARS-CoV-2 virus slipped out of the Wuhan Virology Institute, which researches some of the world's deadliest diseases.

The World Health Organisation has called Pompeo's claims "speculative" and the US government's own top epidemiologist said in an interview this week that all evidence so far "strongly indicates" a natural origin.

Until the speculation on the lab, most scientists believed the virus emerged from a meat market in Wuhan that butchered exotic animals.

President Donald Trump's administration has repeatedly blamed China and the WHO for the pandemic - which critics say is an attempt to deflect blame for the handling of the coronavirus in the US, which has suffered by far the world's highest death toll.

- AFP

May 6 2020 - 17:20

May 6 2020 - 17:18

Kenya seals off virus hotspots in two main cities

Kenya's health minister announced Wednesday that one suburb of the capital Nairobi, as well as a part of the port city of Mombasa, will be cordoned off due to skyrocketing cases of coronavirus in those areas.

Cases of the virus have crept up slowly in Kenya, as in many other African countries, however in recent days it has become clear the virus is fast spreading in several hotspots.

Eastleigh, a suburb in Nairobi with a large Somali population, has recorded 68 cases, while Mombasa's Old Town has 64 infections, out of a total 582 cases in the country. There have been 26 deaths nationwide.

Health Minister Mutahi Kagwe said that from Wednesday, for the next 15 days, "there shall be cessation of movement" in and out of Eastleigh and Mombasa's Old Town.

"Let me be clear, there will be no movement to or out of the two places from 7pm today. Within those areas people are free to move but we encourage people to stay in their houses."

- AFP

May 6 2020 - 16:34

Joburg still epicentre of Covid-19 in Gauteng with 971 cases

Gauteng has recorded 1,697 cases of Covid-19 and 1,036 recoveries, with the death toll at 15. 

Johannesburg is the most affected district with 971 cases followed by Ekurhuleni with 366 and Tshwane with 224 recorded cases. These were the figures provided on May 5.

The provincial health department said 8,860 people had been traced after coming into contact with those who tested positive. 

May 6 2020 - 16:14

Presidency 'essential' staff member tests positive for Covid-19

An “essential staff” member within the presidency has tested positive for Covid-19.

The presidency made the announcement on Wednesday, saying that public and staff access to the Union Buildings had been limited in the wake of the diagnosis.

May 6 2020 - 16:08

Compulsory face masks, no meals on domestic flights - Air France on future travel by air

Air France on Wednesday revealed some of the measures it intended putting in place when flights resume, providing insight into what awaits passengers now grounded by the coronavirus pandemic. 

“In line with instructions from the French government making the wearing of a mask compulsory on public transport, Air France will ask its customers to wear a mask throughout their journey when flights resume,” the airline said in a statement.

Meal and beverage services have also been suspended. 

May 6 2020 - 15:43

Don't forget TB, SA's biggest killer, in focus on Covid-19, experts warn

The global response to the Covid-19 pandemic and protracted lockdowns could spell disaster for those living with tuberculosis.

A report by the Stop TB Partnership says curbs on diagnosis, treatment and prevention services during the lockdown would have unintended yet drastic consequences on TB.

A three-month lockdown and another 10 months to restore services would lead to an additional 6.3-million TB infections worldwide and 1.4-million more deaths, said Tuesday's report.

May 6 2020 - 15:19

Eskom worker at Koeberg nuclear station tests positive for Covid-19

An Eskom worker at the Koeberg power station, north of Cape Town, has tested positive for Covid-19.

It was not clear where the employee contracted the virus.

The power utility said it had put all employees who were in contact with the staff member into precautionary isolation.

May 6 2020 - 15:15

SA to help Madagascar find out if indigenous plant can fight Covid-19

The government says it will help Madagascar with research into whether an indigenous plant can “cure” Covid-19.

Health minister Dr Zweli Mkhize said on Wednesday that the country received a request from the government of Madagascar and that it was willing to help.

The herb in question is African Wormwood (Artemisia Asteracae), known for clearing the respiratory tract.

May 6 2020 - 15:12

Other avenues open for family of Collins Khosa to get justice, court hears

Defence minister Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula says the family of Alexandra resident Collins Khosa have other remedies available to ensure the investigation into his death is dealt with timeously.

Khosa, 41, died after an altercation with soldiers and Johannesburg metro police during the lockdown at his home in Alexandra on April 10.

His family have approached the high court in Pretoria seeking to have the soldiers and metro police who were there disarmed and suspended.

May 6 2020 - 14:51

KZN ANC hails government for war waged against invisible enemy

Had the novel coronavirus pandemic occurred before the dawn of democracy “our people would have been wiped out”, KwaZulu-Natal ANC provincial secretary Mdumiseni Ntuli believes.

Ntuli was speaking at a post provincial executive committee (PEC) media briefing on Tuesday where he praised the leadership of President Cyril Ramaphosa during the pandemic, saying South Africans should count themselves fortunate.

“The South African government has demonstrated enormous capability, the decision to place our country into a lockdown has been hailed as one of the decisive steps in disrupting the spread and unmitigated circulation of the virus," he said.

May 6 2020 - 14:22

Click right this way for protective gear, Western Cape tells companies

Western Cape companies that make masks and personal protective equipment (PPE) can sign up with a website that aims to link them directly with buyers.

The marketplace has been created by the provincial government, the City of Cape Town and Wesgro, the provincial trade and tourism promotion agency.

Finance MEC David Maynier said it was part of efforts to open up the economy without spreading Covid-19.

May 6 2020 - 13:55

Cape company looks to tobacco plant's cousin in search for Covid-19 antigen

A Cape Town company has partnered others overseas to produce a plant-based antigen that could possibly be used in rapid- diagnostic test kits for the virus.

Rapid diagnostic tests (or serology tests) check for the presence of antibodies in your blood or sputum to see if you’ve had an immune response to the virus, but they do not show if you’re still infectious.

May 6 2020 - 13:42

Child grant beneficiaries grateful for payouts after struggling to make ends meet

The SA Social Security Agency (Sassa) was expected to pay 7 million beneficiaries who would receive an extra R300 in May (amounting in total to R740), and an extra R500 a month from June to October, as per the new government multibillion-rand Covid-19 fund.

The grant, which is normally paid on the first of every month, meant beneficiaries needed to wait longer than usual to plan around their monthly budget.

May 6 2020 - 13:34

Undocumented migrants escape from Lindela Repatriation Centre as staff refuse to work without PPEs

Addressing the media, Motsoaledi revealed that the escape happened as security guards deployed to the centre downed tools over grievances that they were not supplied with protective gear to prevent them contracting Covid-19.

May 6 2020 - 13:04

511 health workers had tested positive for Covid-19 : Health minister Dr Zweli Mkhize

Twenty-six of those had been hospitalised and two - a doctor and a nurse - had died, he said in a series of tweets.

He also suggested that a prolonged lockdown would not necessarily delay the peak of infections substantially, adding that the virus could be with us for another two years.

May 6 2020 - 12:57

No try-ons, no returns for clothing: Retailers adjust rules as shoppers fume

The slight easing of retail lockdown restrictions means South Africans can now buy winter clothing — you just can’t try them on in store and, in some cases, if they don’t fit, you can’t exchange them either.

Adding to the “will it fit?” consumer challenge is the fact that retailers are strongly discouraging and in many cases refusing to allow children to accompany their parents into stores. 

May 6 2020 - 12:31

Eastern Cape mask economy takes off as entrepreneurs stitch up a storm

Colourful prints, branding, tie-dye and polka dots are just some of the designs you can expect to find in the burgeoning face mask industry that has sprung up in the wake of the coronavirus.

May 6 2020 - 12:28

Donations big and small from 135,000 people in some of the country's poorest provinces have helped raise R1m for SA's Covid-19 Solidarity Fund.

The funds were raised via the Act for Change Fund operated at tillpoints at more than 700 Shoprite, Checkers and Usave stores countrywide since collection started on March 30.

The top three provinces in terms of contributions from shoppers are the Free State, KwaZulu-Natal and Northern Cape.

May 6 2020 - 11:58

IN QUOTES | Put that in your pipe and smoke it - Ramaphosa defends tobacco ban

President Cyril Ramaphosa on Tuesday again defended the government's decision to institute a ban on the sale of cigarettes and tobacco products during the lockdown.

May 6 2020 - 11:56

Joburg complex accused of not providing staff with protective equipment, body corporate to 'investigate'

Three sources who spoke to TimesLIVE on condition of anonymity allege that the complex instructed its live-in domestic workers to return to work on Monday without providing them with personal protective equipment.

The live-in domestic workers are employed by residents and share accommodation on the property.

One source said when issues of health and concerns about working without protection were raised, they were ignored and told to work or there would be no pay.

May 6 2020 - 11:41

Why it's important to have a healthy relationship with your device during lockdown

Blurred vision, difficulty changing focus, eye fatigue and redness of the eyes? You're probably spending too much time staring at a screen during the lockdown.

University of KwaZulu-Natal optometry lecturer Dr Alvin Munsamy said too much time staring at a screen could cause digital eye strain, previously known as computer vision syndrome.     

“If you consider that a computer is not the only electronic device we use today, then digital eye strain is a better description as it encompasses all electronic devices with LED displays.

May 6 2020 - 11:31

Continued alcohol ban inconsistent with global trends, says liquor industry

The local liquor industry says it’s concerned that SA's ban on alcohol during the lockdown is inconsistent with the global approach.

According to the SA Liquor Brandowners' Association (Salba), SA remains one of the few countries in the world that continues to prohibit all sales of alcoholic beverages during lockdown, with more developing economies abandoning the initial prohibition approach.

May 6 2020 - 10:58

Ramaphosa praises Mkhize and Dlamini-Zuma for their leadership

President Cyril Ramaphosa has given credit for the leadership shown by his ministers during the Covid-19 pandemic.

Speaking during a media conference in KwaZulu-Natal on Tuesday, Ramaphosa applauded health minister Zweli Mkhize and co-operative governance and traditional affairs minister Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma.

In his address, Ramaphosa said, while the worst is yet to come, the ministers were doing a stellar job within their departments.

May 6 2020 - 10:47

KZN alliance partners call for hero's welcome for Cuban doctors

The ANC in KwaZulu-Natal and its alliance partners want a hero's welcome for the group of 28 Cuban specialist doctors who will be deployed to KwaZulu-Natal to serve as reinforcements in the fight against Covid-19.

The secretariat of the alliance, made up of the secretaries of the ANC, the SA Communist Party and Cosatu after its ordinary meeting also lashed out at those it accused of being against the deployment of the doctors.

May 6 2020 - 10:27

WATCH | SA's livelihood depends on swift reopening of the economy -Coronation

​Thys du Toit, one of the founders of Coronation Fund Managers, has joined the chorus of appeals for President Cyril Ramaphosa to reopen the economy for SA businesses which are struggling to survive.

Du Toit, who is also chair of Rootstock Asset Management, said in a video address that the effects of the lockdown may be worse than the pandemic itself.

May 6 2020 - 10:07

British American Tobacco pauses court battle over cigarette ban

British American Tobacco SA (Batsa) has decided to hold back on challenging the government in court for extending the ban on cigarette sales despite easing other lockdown regulations.

May 6 2020 - 09:04

Impatient customers cancel orders but optimism as restaurants reopen after coronavirus lockdown

It has not been smooth sailing for several food outlets that have reopened their doors for business after an easing of the coronavirus lockdown regulations.

Several companies that TimesLIVE spoke to said among the challenges was impatient customers who at times cancelled their orders due to dissatisfaction with the service they were receiving.

May 6 2020 - 08:24

Government pledges to improve systems to assist South Africans returning home

“We had no proper support at any time from our government and that was the hardest pill to swallow. They did not care enough for me, about their people.

“It was the SA people [stranded abroad] and the support system that got each other through this whole ordeal and got us back here, it wasn’t our government,” Nikki Ross told TimesLIVE.

May 6 2020 - 08:22

Western Cape Spar halts sale of burger patties & stationery to support neighbouring businesses

As businesses struggle to survive due to the lockdown and employees around the country lose their jobs and endure pay cuts, Palm Grove Spar in the Western Cape is playing its part by lightening the financial burden and uncertainty that comes with it.

In honour of businesses who are trying to stay afloat, the supermarket shared on its Facebook page that it would remove all it's stationery from its isles, as well as burger patties for the benefit of neighbouring businesses, PenCafe stationers and restaurant RocoMamas.

May 6 2020 - 08:00

All races must benefit from Covid-19 relief, says Tito Mboweni

The government needs to support all enterprises in its Covid-19 relief funding, regardless of race, says finance minister Tito Mboweni.

“I think that we need to support all enterprises, black and white, as long as they are able to remain viable to support our people, create jobs,” Business Day reports Mboweni as saying.

May 6 2020 - 07:25

Shop owners refuse prison workers entry over coronavirus fears

With coronavirus infections and the death toll due to the respiratory disease on the increase in prisons, the department of correctional services says its employees are being ostracised by the community.

Department spokesperson Singabakho Nxumalo said some correctional service employees were being denied entry to certain shops in the Eastern Cape if they are in uniform.

May 6 2020 - 07:05

Tobacco association's four main arguments against government ban

Fita argues that the government has failed to demonstrate a scientific link between the spread of Covid-19 and smoking tobacco products.

It pointed out that comments made by health minister Zweli Mkhize in support of the ban were limited to the general ills of smoking and did not specifically relate to the potentially deadly disease.

May 6 2020 - 07:05

Non-profit 'keeps the dream alive' with virtual violin lessons during lockdown

Muzukidz, a non-profit organisation, is keeping the dream alive for many children in townships in Cape Town with virtual violin lessons.

According to the organisation, the lessons brought joy and hope to the children and their families long before the Covid-19 pandemic, and it wants to continue doing so.

Muzukidz offers free and intensive violin tuition to children from disadvantaged backgrounds.

May 6 2020 - 07:00

Outa calls on municipalities to reduce property rates during Covid-19 lockdown

The Organisation Undoing Tax Abuse (Outa) has called on South African municipalities to reduce property rates during the lockdown.

“The Covid-19 pandemic has had a significant financial impact on businesses and individuals and will continue to do so for several months to come. Municipalities around the country have the ability to assist South Africans financially by cutting or reducing property rates on their municipal bill,” said Outa's Julius Kleynhans.

May 6 2020 - 07:00

Kids, addicts keep poisons helpline, Sanca on their toes in lockdown

An increasing number of SA children are downing hand sanitiser at home during lockdown.

We talk to a helpline about the alarming calls it has taken.

May 6 2020 - 06:05

Fear and hunger: 7 million set to rush retailers for child grants

Seven million desperate and fearful child caregivers, whose starving families depend on government social grants for survival, are expected to descend on retailers en masse on Wednesday.

May 6 2020 - 06:00

'We couldn’t handle each other': how women’s shelters are coping in lockdown

Tammy* arrived at the Safe House in Cape Town about two weeks ago, in the middle of the night, after escaping from a dangerous situation at home and going to the police for help.

“It would have been better had it not been lockdown,” she said. “I felt like I was stuck and there’s no way out, while I’m being threatened.”

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