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COVID-19 WRAP | Two more nurses die of Covid-19 in the Western Cape & Ekurhuleni becomes new Covid-19 hotspot

21 May 2020 - 07:16 By TimesLIVE

May 21 2020 - 22:31

Two more nurses die of Covid-19 in the Western Cape

Two more nurses died of Covid-19 complications on Thursday, bringing the number of nurses who have succumbed to the disease in the Western Cape to five so far.

Registered nurse Nandipha Kambi of Gugulethu died at Vincent Pallotti hospital after three weeks on a ventilator. She was a community screening manager for Cape Town non-profit organisation In The Public Interest (IPI), which does community screening for Covid-19 and chronic medication home deliveries.

Magdalena Julies, 67 - known as "Aunty Moemfie" - a paediatric nurse at Melomed Hospital in Bellville, died at Tygerberg Hospital on Thursday afternoon.

May 21 2020 - 22:06

Protective gear, staggered breaks and designated eating areas for Gauteng pupils when schools reopen

Over 300,000 pupils are expected to return to schools across the province, education MEC Panyaza Lesufi said on Thursday.

Pupils will go on break at different times and designated eating areas will be provided.

These are some of the measures that the Gauteng education department says it will put in place when children go back to school.

The department on Thursday outlined its plans to commence with the academic year ahead of the opening of schools for grade 12 and 7 pupils on June 1. 

May 21 2020 - 21:35

'We are desperate': Gauteng informal traders battling under lockdown

A non-profit organisation representing thousands of informal traders in Gauteng on Thursday called on the government to open up the economy to allow them to work and feed their families. 

“We are desperate to resume trade so that we can put food on the table for our families and regain our dignity,” said the Johannesburg Informal Traders Platform (JITP).

It also expressed concern over an alleged lack of consultation by the government.

“They are deeply concerned that government has not consulted them to understand the impact of the lockdown on their livelihoods,” said spokesperson Ntakuseni Tshikosi.

May 21 2020 18:48

EFF not in support of government's decision to reopen schools in June

May 21 2020 - 18:02

Uber has spent $19m on coronavirus financial assistance for drivers

Uber Technologies Inc on Thursday for the first time detailed how much it has spent to support its ride-hail drivers and food delivery workers during the coronavirus crisis, which has battered the company and forced it to lay off thousands of employees.

The company said  it had spent $19m as of mid-May in direct two-week financial assistance to a total of nearly 48,900 drivers worldwide who were infected by the virus or ordered to quarantine.

Half of that amount was paid out to 12,350 drivers and delivery workers in the US and Canada, Uber's largest market and where it has around 1.3-million drivers.

May 21 2020 - 17:13

Trump's ex-lawyer Michael Cohen exits prison early over coronavirus fears

Michael Cohen, US President Donald Trump's former personal attorney, returned to his New York home on Thursday after being released early from a federal prison due to concerns he could be exposed to the novel coronavirus there.

Cohen, 53, had completed a bit more than a year of a three-year sentence for his role paying hush money to two women - pornographic film star Stormy Daniels and former Playboy model Karen McDougal - who said they had sexual relationships with Trump, as well as for financial crimes and lying to Congress.

Wearing a white surgical mask, blue jeans and a dark blazer, Cohen emerged from a Mercedes and walked into his Manhattan apartment building without responding to questions from waiting journalists.

He is expected to serve the rest of his sentence in home confinement, according to two sources familiar with the case, who spoke on condition of anonymity. 

- Reuters

May 21 2020 - 17:04

Pitso Mosimane expresses doubts about plan to house 32 PSL teams in massive camp

Mamelodi Sundowns coach Pitso Mosimane has expressed reservations about a proposed plan to accommodate all the topflight and lower tier clubs in a massive camp as a precursor to the restart of the season.

TimesLIVE reported this week that the Premier Soccer League (PSL) is to propose a plan to the government that could see all 32 clubs - the 16 Absa Premiership and the 16 GladAfrica Championship - accommodated in a massive camp in a bid to complete the season that was interrupted by the Covid-19 outbreak in March.

But Mosimane‚ who has never been one to mince his words‚ questioned the practicality of housing 32 teams in one major base camp.

May 21 2020 - 16:29

Ramaphosa told us he is under 'great pressure' to open the economy, say opposition leaders

President Cyril Ramaphosa is said to have told leaders of opposition parties that he was under “great pressure” from business and organised labour to open up the economy and move as quickly as possible to lower levels of the lockdown regulations.

Two party leaders who were part of the virtual meeting with Ramaphosa on Wednesday said the president informed them of pressure from the National Economic Development and Labour Council (Nedlac) to open up the economy, with business leaders having apparently proposed that the country should move directly to level 2 as the economy was taking a huge beating.

“He said there is pressure at Nedlac to move to level 2 and level 3, but business was saying you have to open up beyond level 3, and unions are also putting pressure to open the economy,” said an opposition leader who asked not to be named.

May 21 2020 - 16:12

Coronavirus infections top 5-million worldwide

Global infections from the novel coronavirus passed five-million on Thursday as the pandemic played out unevenly across the planet, with China eager to declare a victory, Europe tentatively emerging from its shell and deaths still rising in hotspots in Latin America.

The grim milestone comes after known cases of Covid-19 doubled in just one month, according to AFP data collected from official sources, with the death toll now topping 328,000 worldwide.

While many hard-hit European countries have significantly turned the tide on new infections and fatalities, Latin America is in the grip of an infection surge. Brazil is leading the pack, logging the third-highest number of cases in the world after the US and Russia.


May 21 2020 - 15:46

Ekurhuleni becomes new Covid-19 hotspot as Gauteng cases reach 2,400

Gauteng is increasing its stock of personal protective equipment (PPE) in anticipation that the "time ahead is going to be tough".

Premier David Makhura said on Thursday that the total number of confirmed Covid-19 cases in the province as of May 20 was 2,400, with 1,729 recoveries and 27 deaths.

May 21 2020 - 15:43

Reserve Bank cuts repo rate a further 50bps to 3.75%

The SA Reserve Bank cut interest rates by 50 basis points on Thursday which is expected to bring further relief to SA’s battered economy, most of which is still under lockdown.

The cut takes the benchmark rate to 3.75%, its lowest level since the repo was introduced in 1998, BusinessLIVE reports.

May 21 2020 - 15:28

30 more Covid-19 deaths recorded as cases climb towards 20,000

SA will soon hit 20,000 cases of Covid-19, as the number of confirmed cases climbed by more than 1,100 in the past 24 hours.

In a statement, health minister Dr Zweli Mkhize said the number of confirmed Covid-19 cases in SA has climbed to 19,137 by Thursday. This was a 1,136 jump from Wednesday's tally.

May 21 2020 - 15:05

Rentals will suffer after lockdown, 'especially at lower end'

Lower-income households are taking a big hit from the weakening economy of the past five years, with their ability to pay rental diminishing.

This is according to FNB property sector strategist John Loos.

Loos said it was likely that the relative pressure of the deepening Covid-19 economic fallout would be felt more at the lower end of the rental market than at the higher end.

May 21 2020 - 14:29

SA could run out of ICU beds by early June as SA heads towards virus peak

SA is going to run out of ICU beds, and it could be as early as June.

And the situation would be have been a lot bleaker without the lockdown, which reduced the transmission of Covid-19 in the country by between 40% and 60%. 

Critical patients on average require six days in a hospital ward plus another 10 in ICU if recovery happens. Should they die, it usually happens after six days in ICU.

May 21 2020 - 14:14

Zooming with MPs: parliament to hold its first virtual plenary session

A limited number of MPs will return to parliament next Wednesday as the National Assembly is scheduled to hold a three-hour virtual sitting for MPs to pose oral questions to the executive.

The assembly’s programming committee finalised logistics on Thursday morning on what would be the first such plenary session for the assembly's 400 MPs. It will be a question session to the social services and the governance cluster ministers.

The committee adopted a hybrid model where no more than 100 MPs will be physically present in the chamber while the rest connect virtually on Zoom.

May 21 2020 - 13:57

'Concerned citizens' off to court to challenge lockdown regulations

 group of “concerned citizens” has filed an urgent application at the high court in Cape Town challenging the constitutionality of the national coronavirus command council (NCCC) and the validity of the lockdown rules.

“Each of us have had our freedom curtailed by the regulations. We no longer enjoy the freedom to move around as we please, to eat and drink what we want, to work and study as usual and to visit our friends and families,” the group said in a statement.

May 21 2020 - 13:49

MULTIMEDIA | The best of our coronavirus coverage so far

The worldwide emergence of Covid-19 has created unprecedented responses around the world not seen for more than a generation. 

Globally, more than 5-million people have been infected by Covid-19 and already 320,000 people have lost their lives.

In SA, thankfully, we seem to have got a handle on the pandemic, thus far, when compared with some other countries. 

May 21 2020 - 13:37

'Is it time for a modified approach?': Gift of the Givers' Imtiaz Sooliman

Areas and provinces that are considerably free of Covid-19 should resume full-scale economic activity once it has been deemed safe to do so in terms of the containment of minimal infection, suggests Gift of the Givers founder Dr Imtiaz Sooliman.

“Covid-19 has outsmarted us. It has evaded lockdown, went straight for our front line defence attacking health-care workers, police, defence and security services personnel, it ensured shutdown of operating theatres, hospitals, police stations and food outlets, crippled the economy, shattered livelihoods with unprecedented job losses expected in just five weeks of lockdown,” said Sooliman.

May 21 2020 - 13:35

'We were told to stay home but now we are starving,' community cries

A queue snaked around the Makhaza sports ground in Saulsville, Pretoria, through to the main road on Thursday morning as hundreds of people from Jeffsville informal settlement and neighbouring areas queued in the hope of receiving food parcels.

Some camped at the ground the whole night, while others arrived in the early hours of the morning. Mothers queued with toddlers strapped to their backs.

May 21 2020 - 13:15

'There can be no justification for torture, ever': top brass directive to police

In apparent compliance with the Pretoria high court ruling in the Collins Khosa “lockdown brutality” case, the police commissioner has sent out fresh, detailed guidelines on how the SA Police Service (SAPS) and municipal police must conduct themselves. It directs that “there can simply be no justification for torture, ever”.

The directives caution against “serious and humiliating rights infringements” by arresting and detaining people for lockdown breaches where their attendance at courts can be done through summons or other less intrusive means.

May 21 2020 - 12:56

'Safety first' - Gauteng schools with suspected Covid-19 cases will close

Gauteng education MEC Panyaza Lesufi says schools with suspected cases of  Covid-19 will be closed immediately.

This as pupils in grades 7 and 12 are expected to return to schools on June 1, after a two-month hiatus brought on by the lockdown.

May 21 2020 - 12:50

'Schools won't be ready on June 1', say teachers' unions

A survey by unions representing education professionals has found that the country is not ready to resume teaching on June 1.

The information was gathered through engagement with school principals across the country between May 16 and 18.

May 21 2020 - 12:34

Job losses soar, consumers can't cover their bills as Covid-19 lockdown bites

The number of South Africans who have lost their jobs has increased sharply since the beginning of April, according to newly released research from TransUnion.

Almost one in six (14%) people surveyed said in early May they had lost their jobs since the Covid-19 pandemic started — up from one in 10 (10%) reported in early April.

May 21 2020 - 12:30

Jobs created as social distancing is enforced on Rea Vaya buses

Transport minister Fikile Mbalula has paid a second visit to the Rea Vaya bus service to ensure commuters are adhering to Covid-19 safety regulations.

“We are happy that there is compliance with regards to the buses and social distancing. This is our new way of doing things,” he said.

Mbalula visited the Rea Vaya Dobsonville depot on Thursday morning after receiving complaints from citizens that the bus service was “not complying with social distancing on buses”.

May 21 2020 - 12:25

Lockdown helps Eskom cut expected winter load-shedding to three days

Eskom says there is a reduced risk of load-shedding during winter, partly because the lockdown has allowed for critical maintenance to be done.

This forecast emerged during a “state of the system address” by Eskom on Thursday.

“Before we had lockdown, we forecast 31 days of stage 1 load-shedding. We are now forecasting three days of stage 1 load-shedding over winter,” said COO Jan Oberholzer.

May 21 2020 - 11:46

More than 5,000 South Africans repatriated, less than R10m spent

The government has repatriated more than 5,000 South Africans from overseas since the start of the Covid-19 lockdown.

And this has cost the SA taxpayer less than R10m for what was initially estimated would be a R90m mission.

This was revealed by minister of international relations Naledi Pandor during a media briefing on Thursday.

May 21 2020 - 11:30

This is how KZN has prepared to move to lockdown level 3 at month end

KwaZulu-Natal premier Sihle Zikalala is positive that the province is ready to move to lockdown level 3.

This comes after the province's Covid-19 recoveries tipped the 800 mark.

To date, KwaZulu-Natal has had 165 confirmed cases with 46 deaths and 842 recoveries.

May 21 2020 - 11:29

Chatsworth man dies seven weeks after contracting Covid-19

A Chatsworth man, believed to be the first person from the sprawling south Durban township to test positive for Covid-19, has died nearly two months after contracting the virus.

Local councillor Previn Vedan told TimesLIVE the 46-year-old man's funeral was set to take place on Thursday.

May 21 2020 - 10:36

Sihle Zikalala calls on KZN to show 'great hospitality' to Cuban doctors

Premier Sihle Zikalala has called on the people of KwaZulu-Natal to show “great hospitality” to the 28 Cuban doctors deployed in the province to help fight Covid-19.

“We call on all the people of KwaZulu-Natal to show the great hospitality that they are known for. And we call on them once more to know that without their co-operation and discipline, we will not overcome this enemy,” he said.

May 21 2020 - 10:16

Chinese scientists believe new drug can stop Covid-19 pandemic 'without vaccine'

A Chinese laboratory has been developing a drug it believes has the power to bring the coronavirus pandemic to a halt.

The outbreak first emerged in China late last year before spreading across the world, prompting an international race to find treatments and vaccines.


May 21 2020 - 10:00

Worldwide coronavirus cases cross 5.01 million, death toll tops 327,300

More than 5.01 million people have been reported to have been infected by the novel coronavirus globally and 327,383 have died, according to a Reuters tally.

Infections have been reported in more than 210 countries and territories since the first cases were identified in China in December 2019.


May 21 2020 - 8:30

Durban businessman struggling to make ends meet during lockdown, makes R80 'on a good day'

He went from having several wedding shoots set up to now making R80 on a good day. And he needs all of that to support his family. This is the story of Mcebo Nzuza from Molweni, KwaZulu-Natal and the devastating impact the lockdown in SA has had on him.

With nearly two months of limited economic activity Nzuza fears the businesses he worked hard to build in the past seven years may not survive.

May 21 2020 - 8:12

Artificial intelligence unmasks Covid-19 hotspots

With Covid-19 cases rapidly spreading across the country, South Africans have been hearing a lot about hotspots, clusters and targeted testing lately.

A home-grown cloud-enabled screening and communication app has been helping community health care workers in Mpumalanga and KwaZulu-Natal mark hotspots seamlessly by recording live community screening in real time.

May 21 2020 - 7:32

SA is moving to a level 3 lockdown — but will Western Cape also be moving?

Will the Western Cape move to a level 3 lockdown or will it remain on level 4? 

This is the question posed by many as some parts of the country are set to move at the end of May.

The province's confirmed Covid-19 cases account for over 60% of the cases in SA.

By Wednesday, it had 11,262 confirmed cases with 210 deaths.

May 21 2020 - 7:00

'I don’t have a choice, I just want to finish this year': Pupils grapple with returning to school

“I know it is not safe for us to go back to school, but the government said they will provide health products to keep us safe. I am happy that now I can go back to school and complete my year.”


May 21 2020 - 7:00

A national survey paints an alarming picture of jobs, income and hunger caused by Covid-19.

But it’s the tip of the iceberg, say economists.

May 21 2020 - 6:30

'Trump drug' to go on trial in SA and globally to test whether it blocks Covid-19

South African scientists are preparing to join a major international clinical trial to test whether the antimalarial drug chloroquine — which US President Donald Trump claims to be taking, outside of scientific guidelines — can protect healthcare workers from Covid-19 infection.

May 21 2020 - 6:18

‘A matter of time before the rest of SA catches up with W Cape’ 

The Western Cape, home to almost two-thirds of confirmed Covid-19 cases, is giving the rest of SA a taste of things to come.

This is the message from the state's pandemic experts.

May 21 2020 - 6:18

'No one has received any help': Foreign nationals flagged as most needy in Pretoria

Residents of Iterileng informal settlement, near Laudium, Pretoria, flocked to a local stadium as early as 3am on Wednesday in a bid to get their share of 11,000 food parcels distributed by local groups.

Some bought their own chairs and crates to sit on while they endured the snaking queues to the stalls.

Volunteers moved around the crowds to ensure compliance with regulations such as social distancing, which in some instances proved to be a challenge.

May 21 2020 - 6:15

Informal traders join call for unbanning of cigarette sales 

The South African Informal Traders Alliance (Saita) and a tobacconist have warned that the ban on the sale of cigarettes is fuelling illicit trade.

The organisations are calling on the government to "urgently" lift the ban on the sale of tobacco.