COVID-19 WRAP | Protest against tobacco ban postponed & virus cases up by more than 1,000

25 May 2020 - 08:06 By TIMESLIVE
Muslims take part in the Eid al-Fitr prayer at the Baitul Mukarram National Mosque amid concerns over the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak, in Dhaka, Bangladesh, May 25, 2020.
Muslims take part in the Eid al-Fitr prayer at the Baitul Mukarram National Mosque amid concerns over the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak, in Dhaka, Bangladesh, May 25, 2020.
Image: REUTERS/Mohammad Ponir Hossain

May 25 2020 - 22:05

What to do if someone died of Covid-19 at your home

If someone dies of Covid-19 at home, you are not to touch the body at all, their clothing can only be touched by someone wearing gloves and then the garments must be disinfected with a substance containing 70% alcohol.

These are among the rules gazetted by the health department on Monday and signed off by health minister Dr Zweli Mkhize.

May 25 2020 - 22:03

52 Covid-19 deaths recorded in past 24 hours as cases up by more than 1,000

Fifty-two Covid-19 related deaths were recorded in the past 24 hours, the health ministry said on Monday.

This means that there are now 481 deaths from the respiratory illness, caused by the cornavirus.

The ministry also reported an increase of 1,032 new cases in the 24-hour reporting period - up from 22,583 on Sunday to 23,615 on Monday.

May 25 2020 - 21:30

Protest against tobacco ban postponed to next week

A group advocating for the lifting of the ban on tobacco products has postponed a planned march, saying it was doing so to make an "even bigger impact". 

They have vowed not to back down until the ban is lifted.

The group's founder Duncan Napier said the march, which was initially planned for Tuesday at the Union Buildings in Pretoria and in two other areas, has been postponed to next Tuesday June 2.

May 25 2020 21:28

Twelve more prisoners test positive for Covid-19

A dozen more inmates and one prison worker have joined the growing number of people within the department of correctional services who have tested positive for the coronavirus.

The latest infections have brought the total number of Covid-19 cases in the department to 732, the department said on Monday.

This comprises of 476 inmates and 256 officials.

May 25 2020 - 17:41

Mozambique records its first death from Covid-19

Mozambique has confirmed its first Covid-19 death, the health ministry on Monday said.

The southern African nation, which has documented 209 coronavirus cases, said the fatality was a 13-year-old child with a with a pre-existing medical condition.

- Reuters

May 25 2020 - 17:34

Cheslin Kolbe's French club Toulouse begin training return protocol

South African Rugby World Cup winner Cheslin Kolbe's Toulouse announced on Monday their players had returned to the club's facilities for medical tests after more than two months away.

The record 20-time French champions have been absent from their Stade Ernest Wallon base since March 16 and the Top 14 season was declared over last month due to the coronavirus pandemic.

The examinations are the first of a seven-phase process presented by the French Rugby Federation which includes running alone and touch rugby sessions before matches can take place.

May 25 2020 - 17:02

Sassa to pay out Covid-19 relief funds this week

The South African Social Security Agency (Sassa) says it will make Covid-19 Social Relief of Distress grant payouts this week.

Spokesperson Paseka Letsatsi said the entity was operating with a third of its staff under level 4 restrictions — and that a move to level 3 would increase human resource capacity drastically so that payments could be made quicker than at present.

It was reported last week that just 10 of the special so-called “Covid-19 grants” had been paid.

May 25 2020 - 16:53

Academy of Science backs Prof Glenda Gray over lockdown criticism

The Academy of Science of South Africa (ASSAf) has thrown its weight behind SA Medical Research Council (SAMRC) president Prof Glenda Gray, who has been a subject of criticism from the health fraternity for her differing views on the coronavirus lockdown regulations.

TimesLIVE reported that health minister Zweli Mkhize had come out in defence of the health ministry, saying Gray had been unprofessional and not entirely truthful in her utterances.

The academy said while Mkhize was within his rights to call Gray out on her views, it said health department acting director-general Dr Anban Pillay acted out of order by calling for an investigation into her comments. The group labelled Pillay’s actions as extremely disturbing.

May 25 2020 - 16:39

Zimbabwean hotels and lodges to open as 'luxury' quarantine centres

With Zimbabwe's tourism industry reeling from Covid-19 lockdown losses, hotels and lodges have been permitted to open as luxury quarantine centres.

Announcing the decision on Sunday, health minister Obadiah Moyo said “guests” would be closely monitored and tested every eight days for Covid-19.

May 25 2020 - 16:35

Criminals hit Gauteng school, steal protective equipment before teachers' return

The Gauteng education department has slammed criminals who broke into a school in Tshwane on the eve of teachers' return to schools.

Education MEC Panyaza Lesufi said personal protective equipment (PPE) meant for the protection of pupils and teachers had been stolen.

The department said Sikhulisile Primary School in Ekangala was broken into twice in 48 hours.

May 25 2020 - 16:26

Top Egypt medical union warns of health system 'collapse'

Egypt's top medical union on Monday warned of a "complete collapse" of the country's health system, accusing the health ministry of negligence in failing to protect health-care workers from coronavirus.

"The syndicate is warning that the health system could completely collapse, leading to a catastrophe affecting the entire country if the health ministry's negligence and lack of action towards medical staff is not rectified," the Egyptian Medical Syndicate said in a statement.

Covid-19 has killed 19 doctors and infected more than 350, according to the EMS, a body representing thousands of Egyptian doctors. "The EMS holds the health ministry entirely responsible for the mounting deaths and infections among doctors due to its negligence... that is tantamount to death through a dereliction of duty," it added.

Egypt has recorded more than 16,000 Covid-19 cases and more than 700 deaths.

The EMS called on the "executive, judicial and legislative" branches of government to force the health ministry to comply with its demands. These included providing all doctors with personal protective equipment (PPE), training for dealing with coronavirus cases and testing for those with symptoms or who have come into contact with infected people.


May 25 2020 - 16:17

800 support staff needed urgently to keep Eastern Cape schools sanitised

The Eastern Cape education department is scrambling to hire 800 unemployed people to help in the first phase of schools reopening next week.

These recruits, employed as support staff, will be contracted for three months to help sanitise pupils and also make sure physical distancing rules are adhered to.  

A circular by the department states a school with more than 1,000 pupils may hire up to four people, who will be paid a stipend of R2,500 a month.

May 25 2020 - 15:18

Mongolia to maintain strict virus regulations 'until vaccine found'

Mongolia will maintain strict coronavirus regulations until a vaccine is found, the prime minister said on Monday, raising the prospect of the country being locked down for months to come.

Wedged between Russia and China, landlocked Mongolia on March 12 became one of the first countries to close its borders in the face of the growing global epidemic. Universities, schools and kindergartens are closed until September, conferences and public protests are banned, children under 12 are not allowed in malls or restaurants, and face masks are mandatory.

"The country will keep the quarantine rules until a vaccine becomes available," Prime Minister Khurelsukh Ukhnaa told reporters in the country's parliament.

He did not provide more details about what measures would remain in place, but said he did not know when borders would reopen.


May  25 2020 - 14:26

SA Medical Research Council sorry for 'embarrassment' caused by Prof Glenda Gray

Health minister Zweli Mkhize will not comment about a letter written by the SA Medical Research Council (SAMRC) extending a "heartfelt and unconditional apology" to the ministry after Prof Glenda Gray questioned the scientific rationale for the national lockdown.

Mkhize's spokesperson, Lwazi Manzi, told TimesLIVE on Monday that the minister had requested that the department did not comment on the letter.

Manzi would not confirm if Mkhize had received the letter.

May  25 2020 - 14:26

'Emotionally it can kill one's spirit': policeman on the Covid-19 front line

A policeman who spent 21 days in hospital after being shot on duty and has witnessed countless gruesome crime scenes has found himself grappling with an unfamiliar foe.

Unlike the criminals he has pursued since 2002, this enemy is invisible and has already killed a colleague.

And now he also has the virus ... Covid-19.

May  25 2020 - 13:58

When the moon to commemorate Eid-ul-Fitr celebrations in SA wasn’t sighted on Saturday evening, the fact that fasting was mandatory for one more day ushered in a wave of mixed emotions for me.

It was an extra day of praise and worship but also a day that delayed celebrations that I had been eagerly looking forward to - no matter how unorthodox this year’s celebrations will be.

The national lockdown has taken away the chance for me to spend this day with friends and family, feasting over a variety of meals that have been prepared with love in celebration of Eid.

May  25 2020 - 13:02

EFF's Mbuyiseni Ndlozi slams move to lockdown level 3 - 'It's black people who will be dying in numbers'

EFF MP Mbuyiseni Ndlozi says Cyril Ramaphosa has "given up" the fight against Covid-19 after the president announced on Sunday night that SA will move to level three of the national lockdown from June 1.

The eased lockdown will allow for, among other activities, the sale of alcohol for home consumption and the end of the national curfew. The president cautioned that Covid-19 remains a threat and urged citizens to remain vigilant.

“Now we look once again to you, your actions and to your sense of responsibility. We look to you to uphold the sanctity of life and the dignity of all people. We look to you to protect the weakest and most vulnerable among us,” said Ramaphosa.

May  25 2020 - 12:50

'Unity in purpose': Ramaphosa praises continent's Covid-19 approach on Africa Day

The African continent has been punching above its weight in its response to the coronavirus pandemic.

This is according to SA President Cyril Ramaphosa, who dedicated his weekly newsletter to celebrate Africa Day.

Ramaphosa, who is chairperson of the AU, said that despite lack of financial resources and other challenges, Africa had done well in responding to Covid-19 because of a response strategy centred on unity in purpose.

May  25 2020 - 12:01

262 stranded South Africans repatriated from India 'relieved to be home'

More than 260 South Africans who were stranded in India for more than two months have returned home.

The group landed at OR Tambo International airport in Johannesburg late on Sunday night and were transported via minibuses to the Indaba hotel in Fourways where they will be in quarantine for 14 days.

They were visiting different parts of India for business and leisure when the coronavirus pandemic forced both the India and SA governments to close their borders and cancel flights.

May  25 2020 - 11:53

It's getting ugly for hair and beauty salons as up to 70% of businesses face closure as restrictions remain

Up to 70% of the country's hair and beauty salons, spas and tattoo parlours face closure as their businesses remain under Covid-19 lockdown.

“Indications are that up to 70% will have to close. We will again be doing a snap survey this week,” said Employers Organisation for Hairdressing, Cosmetology and Beauty (EOHCB) national manager Cobus Grobler.

On Sunday evening President Cyril Ramaphosa announced that the beauty industry would remain under lockdown as the country moves to level 3 restrictions on June 1.

May  25 2020 - 11:33

DA calls for creation of special, powerful office to stop looting of Covid-19 funds

The DA has called for the creation of a special inspector general office to help stop looting of relief funding related to Covid-19.

On Monday the party asked that finance minister Tito Mboweni announce the creation of the all-powerful office during his tabling of the budget next month.

DA finance spokesperson Geordin Gwyn Hill-Lewis announced the proposal during a press conference. He said the creation of such an office would be for the “express purpose of fighting corruption in real time”.

May  25 2020 - 11:13

SA households rapidly lost R800bn in real net wealth, but rebound seen

South Africans' pension funds and other investments like unit trusts have been hit hard by sharp declines in the value of shares and bonds.

This is as a result of the worldwide Covid-19 pandemic; the subsequent lockdown, which incapacitated the global and South African economies; and SA losing its investment grade credit rating, Momentum/Unisa research reveals.

May  25 2020 - 11:08

Soldiers involved in Collins Khoza case suspended

The SA National Defence Force members, who were allegedly involved in the death of Collins Khosa from Alexandra, north of Johannesburg, have been suspended.

“They have been placed on suspension pending the outcome of the investigation,” SANDF spokesperson Col Ronald Maseko told TimesLIVE on Monday morning.

Maseko said the four members were suspended on May 15.

May  25 2020 - 10:48

WATCH | Mmusi Maimane to give president 48-hour ultimatum over decision to reopen schools

One SA Movement leader Mmusi Maimane will give President Cyril Ramaphosa and the national command council (NCC) 48 hours to outline the reasons why they have decided to reopen schools on June 1.

Maimane launched an online petition last week, which has now received more than 155,000 signatures from citizens opposed to reopening schools at this stage. He said that should there be no response from government within the stipulated time, he will consider legal action.

May  25 2020 - 10:45

'We survived Covid-19' - messages of hope from some who recovered

Today we share messages of hope from a group of South Africans who recovered from Covid-19.

SA has recorded 22,583 Covid-19 cases. About half of those infected — 11,100 — have recovered. In the Eastern Cape, there have been 1,335 recoveries.

Here are some of their stories, according to HeraldLIVE.

May  25 2020 - 09:21

Concerns about Western Cape's move to lockdown level 3 flood social media: 'That province isn't ready'

Concerned South Africans have taken to social media to speak out against the progression of the Western Cape to level three of the lockdown after President Cyril Ramaphosa's address on Sunday night.

The president said while the lockdown has been effective in flattening the Covid-19 curve by slowing the spread of the disease, it could not be sustained.

As of Sunday, SA had a total of 22,583 confirmed cases and 429 deaths.

May  25 2020 - 09:11

8 ways your #LockdownLife will change during level 3, according to Ramaphosa

As the country prepares to move to level three lockdown from June 1, President Cyril Ramaphosa has announced some changes to the regulations.

In his televised address to the nation on Sunday, Ramaphosa confirmed that more sectors of the economy would reopen as the country eased restrictions.

May  25 2020 - 08:50

French consortium launches production for saliva-based COVID screening test

A French consortium announced on Monday the launch of the production phase for a saliva-based screening test to detect the COVID-19 coronavirus.

The consortium said the test would be performed by a healthcare professional and involves collecting less than 1 millilitre of saliva from a patient. The sample is then deposited in two tubes heated to 65C, and a subsequent reading screens the tested patients for the presence of the virus.

The consortium - comprised of French companies Vogo , SKILLCELL and the CNRS SYS2DIAG laboratory - hoped its 'EasyCov' product would enter the French market from mid-June onwards.


May  25 2020 - 08:47

Sadtu calls for teachers across the country not to return to work

Provinces across the country are not ready to reopen schools, and therefore no teacher should return to work this week, the SA Democratic Teachers Union (Sadtu) said on Monday.

This after basic education minister Angie Motshekga announced last week that teachers would return to school on May 25 to prepare for the return of grades 7 and 12 pupils on June 1.

May  25 2020 - 07:15

East London prisoner dies of Covid-19 as cases rise

A 50-year-old inmate at an East London prison has died of Covid-19 after suffering from respiratory failure, the correctional services department said on Monday.

Department spokesperson Singabakho Nxumalo said the prisoner died on May 20.

May  25 2020 - 07:15

Click and collect, liquor industry urges, with 117,600 jobs lost during ban

eCommerce options for liquor outlets, including taverns, are under discussion by the SA liquor industry as it seeks to prevent overcrowding when the ban on alcohol is lifted from next Monday.

President Cyril Ramaphosa on Sunday night announced the country’s lockdown status would shift to level three from level four, which would also allow alcohol to be sold for home consumption under strict conditions, on specified days and for limited hours. These are yet to be clarified.

SA Liquor Brand owners Association (Salba) CEO Kurt Moore said the industry welcomed the move that will result in an “opening up of the economy”.

May  25 2020 - 07:00

What pupils need, the reasoning goes, is to get free internet access to educational support materials on offer online.

Nothing could be further from the truth.

In fact, self-guided online learning is doomed to fail. Research shows an exceptionally high dropout rate — even in developed countries. Learners simply have no incentive to keep at their studies without peer pressure, a teacher at hand or a structured learning environment.

May  25 2020 - 06:57

For the past month and a half, South Africans have had to sit at home and watch everything they had built up fall apart.

DA leader John Steenhusien said: “The DA welcomes the announcement by the president that large swathes of the economy will be opened up, subject to hygiene, mask and distancing protocols, as we move to alert level three of the lockdown on June 1.”

“This is in line with what the DA has called for, repeatedly, for the past month.”

May  25 2020 - 06:30

How Covid-19 lockdown is wreaking havoc for local comedian Karou Charou

Karou Charou says as an independent artist, his finances have taken a turn for the worse.

May  25 2020 - 06:02

Level 3 at last. But don’t mess it up, warns Cyril

President Cyril Ramaphosa has handed the baton to SA citizens to behave in a manner that will not reverse the hard-won gains of the lockdown. 

Invoking the words of Nelson Mandela, he said: “It is now in your hands.”