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COVID-19 WRAP | Taxis urged to drive with windows open to stop Covid-19 spread

08 July 2020 - 06:37 By TimesLIVE
Dr Bandile Masuku MEC of health in Gauteng Visiting Honingnestkrans cemetery in Tshwane where Covid-19 burials will take place.
Dr Bandile Masuku MEC of health in Gauteng Visiting Honingnestkrans cemetery in Tshwane where Covid-19 burials will take place.
Image: Thapelo Morebudi/The Sunday Times

July 8 2020 - 20:13

Opposition parties slam government's approach to Covid-19

Opposition parties have criticised the government's approach to fighting the spread of Covid-19 and some of its decision-making in easing the lockdown.

This comes as health minister Zweli Mkhize earlier told parliament that “the storm that we have consistently warned South Africans about is now arriving", in relation to the expected surge of Covid-19 infections.

According to DA health spokesperson Siviwe Gwarube, the government had failed spectacularly to build healthcare capacity, saying its strategy of fighting the virus could not be about “hoping for the best”.

July 8 2020 - 19:00

North West premier checks into hospital for 'voluntary quarantine'

North West premier Job Mokgoro has gone into “voluntary quarantine” at a provincial hospital after testing positive for Covid-19 on Tuesday.

His spokesperson Vuyisile Ngesi told TimesLIVE on Wednesday that Mokgoro made the decision on Wednesday morning.

“He left early this morning with the security guys. They didn't even tell us where they were going. Only he and his personal security detail know where he is,” he said.

July 8 2020 - 16:47

WATCH | Gauteng prepares for mass burials in case Covid-19 deaths spike

Sites are being prepared for a potential worst case scenario as Covid-19 infections soar in Gauteng — mass burials.

The province is on the brink of becoming the new epicentre of the pandemic in SA.

Provincial health MEC Dr Bandile Masuku and officials from the forensic pathology services visited an area reserved for Covid-19 burials in Tshwane on Wednesday.

July 8 2020 - 16:12

'We've reached the surge,' Mkhize tells MPs — and hospital bed capacity in every province will be 'overwhelmed'

SA will need fewer hospital beds for Covid-19 patients than initially expected, but every province was expected to be overwhelmed nonetheless.

This is according to health minister Zweli Mkhize, who on Wednesday revealed that SA’s Covid-19 peak model projects a lower need for beds — both ICU and non-ICU — at a national level. However, he warned that bed capacity was still expected to be overwhelmed in all provinces.

Mkhize was addressing the National Assembly on Wednesday. He said that since the last release of scientific model expectations in May, the National Covid Epi Model has been updated to reflect Covid-19 at a district level using hospitalisation data, updated estimates of the reproductive number and a shift in testing priorities.

July 8 2020 - 15:45

Probe under way into how alcohol is 'clogging' hospital beds

The health department has appointed a “special task team” to assess the impact of alcohol consumption during the lockdown on already under-pressure health infrastructure.

Health director-general Sandile Buthelezi made the announcement during an appearance before parliament’s portfolio committee on health on Wednesday morning.

Buthelezi said that since the ban on alcohol was lifted, serious problems have emerged. Chief among these challenges was the “clogging” of emergency beds from alcohol-related incidents.

July 8 2020 - 15:43

Taxis urged to drive with windows open to stop Covid-19 spread

A member of the health department's ministerial advisory committee on the coronavirus has urged taxi operators and commuters to keep windows open despite the cold weather.

Speaking during a meeting with the National Assembly's health portfolio committee on Wednesday, Professor Glenda Gray said improved ventilation was crucial in curbing the spread of Covid-19 within minibus taxis.

Gray also reiterated that travelling by air was “the safest place to be” during the pandemic, given the circulation of air within aeroplanes.

July 8 2020 - 15:37

Two Durban police stations close as members test positive for Covid-19

The Phoenix police station, north of Durban, as well as the Point police station in Durban central have been temporarily closed after members tested positive for Covid-19. 

Provincial police spokesperson Brig Jay Naicker confirmed on Wednesday that both stations would undergo decontamination. 

"All communities serviced by the Phoenix police station are advised that this police station has been temporarily closed due to one of its members at the Phoenix community service centre testing positive for Covid-19 on July 6," he said. "The community service centre will now operate from a mobile station outside the police station, for the convenience of the community.

July 8 2020 - 15:34

Gauteng to become SA's Covid-19 hotspot by tonight: Zweli Mkhize

Gauteng will become the country's Covid-19 epicentre by Wednesday night.

This is according to health minister Dr Zweli Mkhize, who was addressing the National Assembly on the impact of the coronavirus on SA on Wednesday afternoon.

“We expect that Gauteng will have the highest number of confirmed Covid-19 cases when we next make the announcement, making it the epicentre in the country," Mkhize said.

July 8 2020 - 15:06

Gauteng's Covid-19 infections more than 70,000 as death toll nears 500

Gauteng recorded 4,597 new Covid-19 cases in the past 24 hours, the provincial government said on Wednesday.

This has taken the number of confirmed cases to 71,488.

Department spokesperson Kwara Kekana said 21,414 people had recovered, while 478 had died.

July 8 2020 - 14:56

Obesity could push up need for ventilators as SA heads towards peak

Many scientists say obesity increases your risk of death if you contract Covid-19, yet others say this isn't yet proven.

What they now know for sure, however, is that those with obesity are far more likely to need a ventilator, which means it is crucial for countries with high obesity prevalence (above 40%) to be prepared.

SA’s obesity levels are far above the global average, which makes the latest report from two New York hospitals especially relevant.

July 8 2020 - 14:41

Western Cape Premier Alan Winde tests positive for Covid-19

Western Cape premier Alan Winde tested positive for Covid-19 on Wednesday.

He said he was at a higher risk of developing more serious illness because he was over 55-years-old and suffered from type-2 diabetes.

“I received a positive test result for Covid-19 this morning, and I am in self-isolation at home for 14 days,” Winde said in a statement.

July 8 2020 - 14:14

Stop partying and stay safe, says Jessie Duarte

ANC deputy secretary-general Jessie Duarte has sent a strong message to ANC members to use WhatsApp groups to spread information about Covid-19 instead of gossiping and socialising.

In a voice note circulated to party members, Duarte said South Africans have not fully internalised the impact of Covid-19.

She asked members to remain cautious and follow all preventative measures.

July 8 2020 - 13:32

Dlamini-Zuma and ANC's RET faction exploiting 'weak' Ramaphosa, says John Steenhuisen

DA leader John Steenhuisen says President Cyril Ramaphosa has been nothing but a spectator in the country's fight against Covid-19.

In a speech on Wednesday, Steenhuisen said the country has not seen real leadership from Ramaphosa since he announced the lockdown, more than 100 days ago.

“We are yet to see leadership from the one man who matters. Throughout all of this – as the rogue ministers of the national command council compounded our problems with petty regulations, as our hospitals filled up and our economy imploded – President Ramaphosa has been little more than a spectator.

July 8 2020 - 13:18

Judge releases waste pickers after three months in jail for breaking lockdown rules

Two men arrested for collecting and recycling waste during lockdown in Tshwane were released from Kgosi Mampuru Correctional Centre on Tuesday after spending three months in prison.

Justice Shabangu and George Mphotshe were arrested on April 7 for continuing to work under lockdown level 5 restrictions which stated that everyone should stay home unless they were providing an essential service.

July 8 2020 - 12:38

Sterkspruit pupils miss meals as virus limits school return

A steaming dish of milk and maize porridge interrupts an early-morning mathematics class in Sitoromo Junior Secondary School in the Eastern Cape province.

A dozen hungry pupils dig their spoons into the brimming bowls as the sun slowly thaws the frosty meadows surrounding their town, Sterkspruit, tucked in the Maluti mountains across the border from Lesotho.

"There are children who are schooling here who rely mostly on the meals they get from school," said their principal, Thabang Letsoso.

July 8 2020 - 12:35

'Academic year of public universities will be concluded early 2021': Nzimande

July 8 2020 - 11:07

DJ Sbu part of campaign to give R400k to black-owned businesses collapsing under Covid-19

As thousands of South Africans face unemployment and retrenchment, DJ Sbu has teamed up with businessman Khandani Msibi to give R400,000 to help 20 businesses stay afloat.

Sowetan reported on Tuesday that retailer Massmart Holdings Ltd had started talks with unions to cut up to 1,800 jobs at Game stores across the country because of the Covid-19 pandemic and reduced consumer spending.

The news came as Media 24 announced it was considering the closure of five magazines and two newspapers, cutting hundreds of jobs, as it restructures in the wake of the pandemic.

July 8 2020 - 11:05

SA-licensed Covid-19 drug expected to save more than 13,000 lives this year

A drug that will be available in SA by the end of July is expected to save the lives of more than 13,000 Covid-19 patients by the end of the year.

Around 30,000 doses of a generic version of remdesivir, the only proven treatment for Covid-19, are being manufactured by Cipla under licence from Gilead Sciences of the US. Recent research has suggested remdesivir can reduce Covid-19 deaths by up to 30%. It also reduces intensive care stays from 15 days to 11, on average.

July 8 2020 - 11:03

ANC KZN loses provincial spokesperson to Covid-19

Former KwaDukuza mayor and ANC KwaZulu-Natal leader Ricardo Mthembu died on Wednesday.

July 8 2020 - 11:02

Labour department says May and June UIF appications are open

July 8 2020 - 09:08

Mmusi Maimane leads call for national stay-away from school protest

One SA Movement leader Mmusi Maimane has called on teachers and pupils to take part in a national school stay-away protest on Friday.

On Tuesday, Maimane called for the stay-away to protest against government's decision to reopen schools during the Covid-19 pandemic.

He said the protest's demand is for basic education minister Angie Motshekga to reverse the decision to reopen schools.

July 8 2020 - 09:06

‘We have underestimated airborne transmission of Covid-19’, says Wits professor Shabir Madhi

University of the Witwatersrand Professor Shabir Madhi said airborne transmission of Covid-19 is a reality and has been underestimated.

“There is emerging evidence that is cause for concern that we might have underestimated the role of airborne transmission of Covid-19,” Madhi told eNCA on Tuesday.

Madhi said previously the focus was around the notion that patients are infected when coming in to contact with contaminated surfaces.   

But that has since changed, he said.

July 8 2020 - 08:53

Eastern Cape premier and health MEC disagree on testing corpses for Covid-19

Premier Oscar Mabuyane has announced that every person who dies in the Eastern Cape would be tested for Covid-19 before their bodies are released to their families, but health MEC Sindiswa Gomba said there are not enough testing kits for such an exercise.

Mabuyane was addressing the media in Bhisho on Tuesday on a new community-based strategy to combat the spread of the coronavirus, which he said was “now galloping”.

Mabuyane said in addition to testing every corpse for Covid-19, the provincial coronavirus command council had revised the number of people permitted to attend funerals down to immediate family only.

July 8 2020 - 08:35

Resuming sport under advanced level 3: what you need know

Contact and non-contact sports may resume training without any spectators and must comply with the Covid-19 health protocols.

This is according to new directives from minister of sport, arts and culture Nathi Mthethwa, published in an amended gazette.

The directives, which come into immediate effect, fall under the advanced level 3 lockdown regulations.

Mthethwa said the directives include specific guidelines for the arts and sports sectors.

July 8 2020 - 08:28

Lerato Zah Moloi on testing positive for Covid-19: 'It's a ruthless invisible monster'

Former Muvhango actress Lerato Zah Moloi has warned about the dangers of Covid-19, after testing positive for the virus.

The star took to Instagram this week to reveal that she first developed symptoms several days ago and hoped her journey might help someone else.

“I've been contemplating just posting this video and telling my story because generally I am a private person and I'm a shy person, believe or not ... I don't put my life out there and I hardly post on social media ... ” Lerato began her video.

July 8 2020 - 08:27

WATCH | 112 days on life support: Covid-19 patient is recovering after a double lung transplant

A Covid-19 patient has received a double lung transplant in South Korea, offering hope for others.

The 50-year-old woman was diagnosed with the disease and hospitalised in late February. She then spent 16 weeks on extracorporeal membrane oxygenation (ECMO) support, which involves circulating a patient’s blood through a machine that adds oxygen to red blood cells.

July 8 2020 - 08:24

He was 36 and healthy, but Covid-19 put him in a coma for 3 weeks

Glenn Sandler, 36, worked as a business intelligence analyst for Capitec. He lived with his fiancée, was able to work remotely, and, as the son of a doctor and a pharmacist, was careful to take precautions against catching Covid-19.

He had no chronic conditions known to make Covid-19 cases worse. But when he caught the disease, it nearly killed him. His brother Justin told GroundUp the story.

On Wednesday June 3, as restrictions were lifted to level 3 lockdown, Glenn found his family’s long-time housekeeper at his doorstep. She had been working for the family for his entire life, and during lockdown Glenn had continued to pay her salary and asked her to stay at home. But she decided to visit him.

This story was originally published on GroundUp.

July 8 2020 - 08:23

Zimbabwe health minister Obadiah Moyo booted after Covid-19 tender arrest

Zimbabwean president Emmerson Mnangagwa has fired his health minister at the centre of a $60m (about R1bn) Covid-19 supplies deal.

Obadiah Moyo, known as “DJ Mighty Biscuit” in Harare’s yesteryear nightclub circuit, was summarily dismissed for “conduct inappropriate for a government minister”.

Moyo was arrested last month and accused of abuse of office. He allegedly corruptly issued $60m in tenders to supply Covid-19 test kits and medical equipment to obscure companies linked to the political elite. If found guilty, he could face up to 15 years in jail. He was granted bail of $2,000 (about R34,320).

July 8 2020 - 08:20

Covid-19 could cost more lives if scientists bow to political pressure - Karim's warning

If scientists compromise on science and give in to political pressures during the scourge of Covid-19, the pandemic may end up killing more people, just like HIV/Aids did during Aids denialism, the country’s chief scientist has warned.

Professor Abdool Salim Karim, director of the Centre for the Aids Programme of Research in SA and chairperson of the Covid-19 ministerial advisory committee, told delegates at the 23rd International Aids Conference that scientists on the frontline of Covid-19 should always “stand by science”.

July 8 2020 - 06:45

INVESTIGATION | Your hand sanitiser might not be keeping you as safe as you think

If tests on a sample of hand sanitisers conducted by a private, accredited laboratory in KwaZulu-Natal are anything to go by, almost half are not complying with the government’s regulation that alcohol-based hand sanitisers must contain no less than 70% alcohol.

After being confronted with the results, one company said it would remix the bottles and donate them to charity.

One of the products that did not meet the required standards was used to sanitise shoppers’ hands at a clothing store.

July 8 2020 - 06:44

Covid-19 patient makes full recovery after a month on ventilation

For most Covid-19 positive patients, it usually takes 14 days to recover. However, for one Wynberg, Cape Town, patient, it took three months of treatment.

Among other things, his treatment included health professionals making a hole in his neck to help him breathe. 

Robson Shaby, who is arguably the Covid-19 patient admitted to hospital for the longest time in the Western Cape, has now made a full recovery. His stay at the Victoria Hospital pushed medical staff to explore unknown medical territory to save his life. 

July 8 2020 - 06:30

Gauteng well on its way to being epicentre as it records over 70,000 virus cases