COVID-19 WRAP | SA Covid-19 death toll inches closer to 1,000

05 June 2020 - 07:38 By TimesLIVE
Nurses Sasha Dubois and Farah Fevrin kneel for the 8 minutes and 46 seconds of silence during a vigil at Brigham and Women’s Hospital, where many coronavirus patients have been treated, against the backdrop of the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis police custody, in Boston, Massachusetts on June 5 2020.
Nurses Sasha Dubois and Farah Fevrin kneel for the 8 minutes and 46 seconds of silence during a vigil at Brigham and Women’s Hospital, where many coronavirus patients have been treated, against the backdrop of the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis police custody, in Boston, Massachusetts on June 5 2020.
Image: REUTERS/Brian Snyder

June 5 2020 - 21:05

SA Covid-19 death toll inches closer to 1,000

The country's Covid-19 infections have increased by 2,642 in 24 hours with the national death toll confirmed to be 908 on Friday.

Health minister Dr Zweli Mkhize said the total number of infections in the country had climbed to 43,434.

June 5 2020 - 21:00

What it's like returning to mosque for prayers under lockdown level 3

The Masjid Al Khair in Mitchells Plain, Cape Town, could easily be mistaken for a medical facility.

Congregants go through a thorough Covid-19 screening process at the entrance every time they enter the mosque.

They have their temperature taken, answer a list of questions about their personal health, age, interactions with others and have their hands sanitised.

June 5 2020 - 20:45

Ramaphosa urges South Africans to drink responsibly

President Cyril Ramaphosa has urged South Africans to drink responsibly, now that the sale of alcohol has been allowed under level 3 of the lockdown.

Addressing the media after meeting Western Cape premier Alan Winde and other officials on Friday, Ramaphosa said it was always going to be difficult and risky for the government to lift the ban on alcohol sales.

He said SA's alcohol consumption was one of the highest in the world.

June 5 2020 - 20:28 

'We'll keep fighting': Meet the man who challenged SA’s lockdown regulations

Reyno de Beer has become a household name after the David vs Goliath victory on Tuesday that saw him challenge the government’s lockdown regulations and the high court ruling that many were invalid and unconstitutional.

The father-of-two, born in Edenvale, Johannesburg, said he developed an interest in law and politics after his grade 12 studies at the then Hendrik Verwoerd High School in Pretoria in 1994.    

June 5 2020 - 18:07 

'Cost not the issue, saving lives is': Ramaphosa pumps R3bn into Covid-19 battle in Western Cape

Never mind the cost, saving lives is what matters.

That was the message on Friday from President Cyril Ramaphosa to the Western Cape — the country's epicentre of Covid-19 deaths and infections.

Ramaphosa said to assist the province, which had seen more than 26,000 infections and at least 643 deaths by Thursday, about R3bn would be awarded to it from R20bn set aside to fight the pandemic in the country.

June 5 2020 - 18:04

Wear masks in public says WHO, in update of Covid-19 advice

The World Health Organisation (WHO) updated its guidance on Friday to recommend that governments ask everyone to wear fabric face masks in public areas where there is a risk of transmission of Covid-19 to help reduce the spread of the pandemic disease.

In its new guidance, prompted by evidence from studies conducted in recent weeks, the WHO stressed that face masks were only one of a range of tools that can reduce the risk of viral transmission, and should not give a false sense of protection.

June 5 2020 - 17:39

Domestic flights resume in Joburg - passengers should arrive two hours before departure

The first domestic commercial flight from OR Tambo International Airport under level 3 of the lockdown took off on Friday after 10 weeks of no commercial flights.

A total of 57 business travellers began checking in at the airport from 4am for the flight on a CemAir Dash 8-Q400 that departed at 6.30am for Cape Town. A few hours later at 11.50am, the airport received the first arrival of a domestic commercial flight with a CemAir flight bringing 66 passengers to Gauteng.

A second CemAir flight from OR Tambo International Airport to Cape Town departed at 3pm and another flight was scheduled to arrive at 8.15pm.

June 5 2020 - 17:32

Brazil virus toll surges to third-highest in world

Brazil's death toll from the new coronavirus surpassed Italy's to become the third-highest in the world.

The bleak figures from Brazil underlined the toll the virus is taking in Latin America, the latest epicenter in the pandemic.

Brazil's death toll topped 34,000, while cases Mexico, Peru, Ecuador and Chile continued to mount.

Impoverished Haiti, with its fragile health system, is also seeing worrying trends as infections and deaths rise in the face of swirling rumours and disinformation about the severity of the disease.


June 5 2020 - 17:20

Covid-19: Zoom can be used to negotiate retrenchments in SA

The Johannesburg Labour Court has ruled that retrenchment negotiations can take place over Zoom or similar video conferencing facilities.

This was in light of the Covid-19 pandemic and the “new normal”, judge Graham Moshoana said in a judgment handed down in an urgent application brought by the Food and Allied Workers' Union (Fawu) against South African Breweries (SAB).

June 5 2020 - 17:06

Education department is happy with KZN schools to open on Monday, but unions disagree

The national department of basic education has given KwaZulu-Natal schools the thumbs-up to return to school on Monday but unions are adamant they are not ready.

On Friday, deputy education minister Regina Mhaule announced that she is happy for pupils to return to school. This after she visited three rural schools in Mtubatuba, northern KwaZulu-Natal: Siyathuthuka Primary School, Ikusasalethu High School and Ingaqa Full Service School.

Though schools in the area are waiting for the distribution of water tanks by the department of water & sanitation, Mhaule believes they are “99% ready”.

However, SA Democratic Teachers Union (Sadtu) and National Teachers Union (Natu) members in Mtubatuba aren’t satisfied with the claims that pupils and members of staff are ready to return to school.

June 5 2020 - 16:16

Extra hands needed as 80% of health workers with Covid-19 are in Western Cape

Health minister Dr Zweli Mkhize voiced concern on Friday that 80% of the country's health-care workers who had contracted Covid-19 were based in the Western Cape.

This, he said, raised the question of bringing extra support into the province, where infections are expected to peak before other parts of the country.

He was speaking during a visit to the province by President Cyril Ramaphosa, who expressed grave concern about the Covid-19 crisis unfolding there.

June 5 2020 - 16:04

No final word yet on Collins Khosa's death, says Mapisa-Nqakula

Defence minister Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula says there is no final word yet on the Collins Khosa incident and any culpability that might be established for his death.

Mapisa-Nqakula said this on Friday as she announced that though an SANDF board of inquiry had found no-one liable for the death of Khosa, she had instructed the military ombud to conduct a further investigation into his death.

The department of defence said it was envisaged that the military ombud would conduct and conclude its investigations and report within eight weeks.

June 5 2020 - 15:51

ConCourt dismisses bid by Maimane's movement to stop school reopening

The Constitutional Court on Friday dismissed an application by former DA leader Mmusi Maimane's One South Africa Movement to halt the reopening of schools.

In an order made on Friday, the Constitutional Court said it had considered the application for direct access to the court on an urgent basis.

"It has concluded that [One South Africa Movement] has not made out a case for direct access and thus the application should be dismissed as it is not in the interests of justice to hear it at this stage."

June 5 2020 - 14:44

U-turn - You will not be arrested for transporting alcohol after hours

No, you will not be arrested for transporting booze after hours, including Friday, Saturday, Sunday and any public holiday.

The U-turn comes just days after SA police spokesperson Brig Vish Naidoo issued a stern warning to the public, saying anyone caught transporting alcohol after 5pm on Thursday and before 9am on Monday will be charged with violating the National Disaster Act.

“Between Monday at 9am and Thursday at 5pm is the only time people are allowed to purchase and transport alcohol for their personal use,” Naidoo said. “Any other time beyond that will be a contravention of the regulations. People must be warned.”

June 4 2020 - 14:37

Deputy President David Mabuza in Mangaung 

June 5 2020 - 14:22

Covid-19 takes its toll on doctors, nurses & health workers in Western Cape

There have been 1,713 health workers infected with Covid-19 across the public and private sector in the Western Cape since the start of the pandemic — and 17 deaths.

The dead include nurses, porters and support staff.

Infections have increased rapidly in the province, which is heading towards its anticipated peak in the spread of the virus, placing the health system under strain.

There were 973 patients being treated in public and private sector facilities on Friday, of whom 193 were admitted to ICU or high care. The province is rolling out temporary treatment facilities to treat the expected surge in patients.

June 5 2020 - 14:21

Gauteng schools will be ready on Monday despite vandals and 12 Covid infections: Lesufi

Gauteng education MEC Panyaza Lesufi says despite the high number of vandalised schools and those without  water and sanitation, the province will be ready by Monday June 8 to resume teaching and learning.

“There’s no single school in Gauteng without PPEs. All our administrative buildings have been cleaned. About 1,725 schools have received money to clean the schools themselves, they will submit certificates by the end of today to show they have been cleaned,” Lesufi said on Friday.

June 5 2020 - 14:18

Sanitiser supply goes missing from KZN school - then reappears

Police are investigating the disappearance of two drums of sanitiser allegedly stolen from a primary school in Ladysmith, KwaZulu-Natal, on Tuesday night.

Police spokesperson Capt Nqobile Gwala told TimesLIVE the two drums were allegedly stolen by “unknown people” from Mnambithi Primary.

“We can confirm that a case of theft was opened at the Ladysmith police station. The matter is still under investigation,” she said.

June 5 2020 - 14:02

'A matter of life and death': Staff shortages won't cut it as an excuse, Ramaphosa tells Western Cape

President Cyril Ramaphosa has expressed his grave concern for the Covid-19 crisis unfolding in the Western Cape which has, by a long mile, the most infections and deaths in the country.

“I have received your letter that sets out key challenges — particularly when it comes to staffing as well as funding. Let me immediately say that, as national health minister Dr Zweli Mkhize says, staffing challenges must be solved. We are at war and it is a matter of life and death.”

On Friday, as Ramaphosa addressed officials from the provincial and national government who had met in Cape Town, he began on a positive note by acknowledging the good work that has been achieved, but then highlighted some of the challenges.

June 5 2020 - 13:00

Deeply concerning that Western Cape is epicentre of Covid-19 in SA: Ramaphosa

President Cyril Ramaphosa expressed concern that the Western Cape was the epicentre of Covid-19 in the countries. 

"The Western Cape is the epicentre of Covid-19 infections. This concerns us deeply as the leadership of the country... we need to address this."

The president added that the fight against the virus needed to be taken seriously by all role players. 

"The worst is still yet to come... We are at war, we are fighting a death and life war. We must headhunt all those staff members, cost is not an issue, saving lives should be the focus."

"Funding should never be a problem, if it is a problem it should be a momentary problem. Covid-19 is a war that we need to fight and win. We are going to allocate resources that are necessary. Funding will be made available."

Ramaphosa said not having enough enough staff to tend to Covid-19 patients was not an acceptible excuse. He has asked local government leader to make the necessary appointments to meet Covid-19 demands in facilities.

"We cannot sit back and be defeated by Covid-19 on the basis that we didn't have enough staff members"

He further added that provinces should increase the number of beds in facilities, saying he was not satisfied with the procurement of beds in Covid-19 facilities. 

"We have to increase the number of beds, so that we are constantly on the ready... When I went to KZN they also under provided beds, we told them they need to increase the number of beds. " 

June 6 2020 - 12:09

RECORDED | Ramaphosa assesses Western Cape's Covid-19 response

President Cyril Ramaphosa is on Friday expected to conduct a sit visit in the Western Cape where he will assess the province's Covid-19 response.

The Western Cape is currently the epicentre of the virus with cases being a little over 27,000.

June 5 2020 - 11:10

Gauteng now has more active Covid-19 cases than recoveries, for first time

The Gauteng Covid-19 command council led by premier David Makhura says the number of active cases in Gauteng has doubled since last week.

The country has 40,792 confirmed cases, 18,633 recoveries and 848 deaths. Gauteng now has 4,845 confirmed cases.

Johannesburg as a district went from 389 to 992 active cases; Ekurhuleni went from 190 to 425 cases. Meanwhile, the West Rand has jumped from 244 to 372 and Tshwane is now on 245 from 143 cases last week, Makhura said.

June 5 2020 - 12:09

Deputy President David Mabuza in Managung received by premier Sisi Ntombela

June 5 2020 - 10:43

Ramaphosa has touched down in the Western Cape, received by premier Alan Winde

June 5 2020 - 10:31

Three KZN Sassa offices shut after staff test positive for Covid-19

Three SA Social Security Agency (Sassa) branches in KwaZulu-Natal have been temporarily shut after workers tested positive for Covid-19.

Sassa spokesperson Sandy Godlwana said the affected branches were the Mandeni, Ladysmith and Midlands district branches.

“The health department has been requested to test all affected officials and while awaiting the results, these officials will be in self-isolation.

June 5 2020 - 09:28

Civil rights organisation calls for 'prompt, thorough, transparent' investigation into Collins Khosa's death

The C-19 People’s Coalition has rejected the SA National Defence Force (SANDF) board of inquiry's findings that there was no link between Collins Khosa's death and the soldiers he reportedly had an altercation with.

“The C-19 People's Coalition is deeply concerned by the report of the South African National Defence Force (SANDF) Board of Inquiry into the circumstances of the death of Mr Collins Khosa. 

“The SANDF members responsible for Mr Khosa’s death must be held accountable as a matter of justice, to prevent a repetition of these abuses and to restore trust in the security forces,” the organisation said.

June 5 2020 - 08:43

WATCH | 'Mobile strip club' hits the road in Johannesburg

A Johannesburg club owner has started a mobile strip club in a customised bus to entertain adults while ensuring his staff earn a living during the Covid-19 pandemic.

Chivalry Gentlemen’s club in Primrose, Germiston, was forced to shut its doors when the pandemic hit the country and the lockdown was implemented.

Like many similar businesses, they were not allowed to operate and could not generate any income.

“We needed to do things differently after the lockdown kicked in because we could not open our doors for the normal club, so we came up with another idea,” said spokesperson, Keenan Minnie.

June 5 2020 - 08:25

Deputy minister of higher education Buti Manamela visits UJ campus to assess Covid-19 readiness as students get ready to return 

June 5 2020 - 08:07

Batman hopes Zim caves hold secret to rapid coronavirus tests

Scientists scouring two bat-filled cave systems in Zimbabwe have made a big step towards understanding how pathogens spread from animals to humans.

But they need more money to expand their research to include Covid-19.

June 5 2020 - 07:33

Ramaphosa off to the Western Cape and Mabuza in Mangaung to assess response to Covid-19

June 5 2020 - 07:47

Disinfection tunnels are a bad idea, warns top chemist

Disinfection spray booths and tunnels may do more harm than good, a prominent SA chemist has warned.

And they provide little benefit, he adds.

June 5 2020 - 07:40

Govt cops flak from tripartite alliance for ‘heavy handed’ lockdown

The tripartite alliance is warning the government that the lockdown’s legitimacy is at risk.

That is because it favours some parts of society while leaving others in the lurch.