COVID-19 WRAP | New Covid-19 cases in SA drop below 6,000 & parliament to consider request to probe alleged Covid-19 corruption

03 August 2020 - 06:53 By TimesLIVE
A volunteer receives an injection from a medical worker during the country's first human clinical trial for a potential vaccine against the novel coronavirus, at the Baragwanath hospital in Soweto, South Africa.
A volunteer receives an injection from a medical worker during the country's first human clinical trial for a potential vaccine against the novel coronavirus, at the Baragwanath hospital in Soweto, South Africa.
Image: REUTERS/Siphiwe Sibeko/File Photo

August 3 2020 - 22:07

New Covid-19 cases in SA drop below 6,000 for first time since June 23

Health minister Dr Zweli Mkhize announced on Monday night that there were just 5,378 new Covid-19 cases recorded in the past 24 hours.

The new infections mean that there are now 516,862 confirmed cases across SA

August 3 2020 - 20:26

Parliament to consider request to probe alleged Covid-19 corruption

National Assembly speaker Thandi Modise is considering requests by opposition MPs for parliament investigate Covid-19 related expenditure.

The DA and the EFF want parliament to investigate alleged corruption linked to SA's battle against the coronavirus - and for President Cyril Ramaphosa to account for the allegations made against ANC members who have allegedly benefited from the looting.

EFF chief whip Floyd Shivambu wrote to Modise requesting the establishment of a special committee that would investigate alleged corruption committed in the procurement of protective personal equipment (PPE), food parcels and other Covid-19 related expenses.

August 3 2020 - 19:07

'I've sort of given up': Matrics feel even more pressure after one-week break

After an unexpected week's break, matrics say they are feeling more pressured as they head rapidly towards the end of the year.

Not only is there the pressure of life during a global pandemic, pupils who spoke to TimesLIVE on Monday said there was additional stress because of losing even more of the school year due to the one-week shutting down of schools last week.

A 19-year-old Bongani Lubisi, from Atteridgeville, west of Pretoria, said the break was unnecessary as it only brought more pressure to bear.

August 3 2020 - 18:33

Mthethwa announces second wave of relief funding for artists, sports stars

The government has announced a second wave of Covid-19 relief funding for athletes and artists — with those who qualify getting R2,200 a month for three months.

Sports, arts and culture minister Nathi Mthethwa announced on Monday that the money will be paid to qualifying practitioners for September, October and November.

He said the relief amount was set at R2,200, using the rationale of the Expanded Public Works Programme (EPWP) payment rate structure of R95 to R100 a day.

Only individuals who rely solely on income generated from participating in sports, arts, culture and heritage activities are eligible for the relief. These are people who are dependent on gigs, freelancers and independent contractors, and on sport activities.

August 3 2020 - 18:10

Mayor slated for fumbling through speech tests positive for Covid-19

The mayor of Mpumalanga's Nkangala district municipality has tested positive for Covid-19.

Thembi Masilela was thrust into the spotlight last week after she was slated for the poor delivery of her state of the district speech. Some of the people who watched her streamed address on Facebook lambasted her for failing to make an effort, while another user said she was “reading to herself”.

When TimesLIVE spoke to Masilela after the speech she said was not feeling well, and had gone to see a doctor but they could not detect what was wrong.

August 3 2020 - 05:49

Scientists offer six proposals to limit boozing after alcohol ban is lifted

The SA Medical Research Council  (SAMRC) has put forward six proposals to limit the availability of alcohol — and reduce hospital trauma cases — once the booze ban is lifted.

The council's Prof Charles Parry unpacked the basket of measures during an interview on radio 702 on Monday. Parry and council president Prof Glenda Gray urged the government to review the alcohol ban, during an interview with Business Day TV on Friday.

A fresh ban on the sale of alcohol was announced by President Cyril Ramaphosa, in addition to a night curfew, to reduce alcohol-related trauma cases at hospitals and free up beds to treat possible Covid-19 patients.

August 3 2020 - 17:40

SAB stops R5bn investment because of alcohol ban 'which affects a million livelihoods'

South African Breweries (SAB) announced on Monday that it had “halted” R5bn in investments in the country over the next two years because of the ban on alcohol sales.

SAB said it had cancelled R2.5bn in investments for 2020 and another R2.5bn was being reviewed for 2021.

The funds, according to the company, were previously scheduled as part of its capital allocation programme for this financial year, while an additional R2.5bn planned expenditure for the next financial year was now under review.

 “The cancellation of this planned expenditure is a direct consequence of having lost, as of August 3 2020, 12 full trading weeks, which effectively equates to some 30% of annual production,” said SAB’s finance vice-president, Andrew Murray.

August 03 2020 - 15:35

UK signs deal with Wockhardt to boost vaccine manufacturing process

Britain said on Monday it had partnered with Indian drugmaker Wockhardt to boost Covid-19 vaccine manufacturing and hopes the firm's could start work as soon as next month.

The agreement would see Wockhardt carry out the ‘fill and finish’ stage of the manufacturing process, which involves dispensing the manufactured vaccine substance into vials ready for it to be distributed.

"Today we have secured additional capacity to manufacture millions of doses of multiple Covid-19 candidates, guaranteeing the supply of vaccines we need to protect people across the UK rapidly and in large numbers," said British business minister Alok Sharma in a statement. 

—Reuters

August 03 2020 - 15:28

WHO urges mothers to breastfeed even if infected with Covid-19

Mothers should breastfeed their babies even if they have contracted Covid-19, the World Health Organisation's head said on Monday, as the benefits outweigh the risks of infection.

"WHO recommends that mothers with suspected or confirmed Covid-19 should be encouraged the same as all other mothers to initiate or continue breastfeeding," Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus told a news conference.

As the world marks breastfeeding awareness week, Tedros said "the many benefits of breastfeeding for newborn babies and children substantially outweigh the potential risks of Covid-19 infections".

—Reuters

August 03 2020 - 14:26

Medical technology industry body slams PPE graft allegations

The SA Medical Technology Industry Association (Samed) has hit out at allegations of the unlawful procurement of personal protective equipment and urged its members not be party to “improper” business practices.

According to the Sunday Times, claims have emerged of relatives and friends of ANC leaders benefiting from government contracts for personal protective equipment (PPE) running into millions of rand.

While the procurement of these and other medical products is now in focus, Samed continually advocates about the crucial role procurement plays in achieving positive health outcomes and how it can enhance — or undermine — the functioning of the health system.

August 03 2020 - 14:21

Scientists say it's time to think about lifting the booze ban to save jobs

SA’s alcohol industry has welcomed a call by the South African Medical Research Council (SAMRC) for the government to start planning to lift the ban on alcohol sales.

SAMRC president Dr Glenda Gray and Prof Charles Parry, director of alcohol, tobacco and other drugs research unit at the council, told Michael Avery of Business Day TV that the ban, and night time curfew, were “interim” measures to free up space in hospitals for Covid-19 patients.

“We need to be nimble. We have seen the impact that the curfew and alcohol ban have [had] ... So I would recommend now that we do have hospital space ... we need to respond appropriately so we can manage both lives and livelihoods,” said Gray in the interview on Friday. Gray is a member of the ministerial advisory council advising health minister Dr Zweli Mkhize on the government’s Covid-19 response.

August 03 2020 - 14:07

ANC KZN leader to be probed after video shows her 'handing out liquor'

Barely a month after recovering from Covid-19, a senior ANC KwaZulu-Natal leader is in hot water after she was seen in a video allegedly distributing alcohol.

The video, which is being shared on social media, shows uMkhanyakude municipality chief whip and ANC Far North regional executive committee member Maniza Chantal Ngcobo allegedly sharing alcohol.

The video will be raised when the Far North regional executive committee meets provincial ANC officials on Tuesday, chairperson Ndodephethe Mthethwa said.

August 03 2020 - 13:57

'We won't stop a hug a day': teacher makes 'hugging curtain' for pupils

One of the hardest parts of the coronavirus pandemic for many people has been the isolation from loved ones and strict social distancing preventing the comforting feeling of being able to hug and hold those you adore.

But this hasn’t stopped a Bloemfontein teacher who developed a “hugging curtain” from coming up with next best thing to a “real hug”.  

Johnel Cronjé, who has been a teacher for the past 34 years, said she created the plastic sheet with improvised armholes to allow pupils to continue with the daily ritual – giving out hugs.

August 03 2020 - 13:29

People profiteering from Covid-19 are like 'hyenas circling wounded prey': Cyril Ramaphosa

President Cyril Ramaphosa has slammed those who benefit through corruption from Covid-19 funds, saying their actions were those of scavengers who acted like a pack of hyenas circling wounded prey.

In his weekly newsletter, Ramaphosa slammed business people, politicians and public servants who aimed to benefit from the pandemic.

Corruption during a national disaster is a particularly heinous type of crime, and perpetrators are going to be dealt with decisively and harshly.

August 03 2020 - 13:25

Son of Covid-19 survivor, 73, lauds Eastern Cape health workers

A social media post detailing the recovery of a 73-year-old woman who tested positive for Covid-19 in the Eastern Cape has gone viral after her recovery was attributed to “pockets of excellence” within the health-care system.

Facebook user Sbu Ngalwa from East London shared details at the weekend of his mother's recovery after she was hospitalised.

In the post, Ngalwa said his mother was discharged from hospital on Thursday after a two-week stay. During one of those weeks she was attached to an oxygen machine.

August 03 2020 - 12:15

Public protector investigates slew of complaints related to Covid-19

The public protector says her office has been inundated with Covid-19 related complaints about alleged misconduct and service delivery failures.

Busisiwe Mkhwebane's office said there had been a surge in the number of complaints related to the pandemic, with service-failure allegations accounting for the lion’s share of the grievances over the past four months.

Mkhwebane said on Monday that about 450 people had complained about what they deemed to be unreasonable grounds for declining their applications for the R350-a-month special social relief of distress grant.

August 03 2020 - 11:43

Durban nature reserve shut after visitors flout Covid-19 regulations

A Durban nature reserve shut its gates after visitors disregarded Covid-19 regulations by turning out in large numbers on Saturday.

The closure of the Krantzkloof nature reserve, west of the city, came a week after the eThekwini municipality announced  it was reopening public spaces, including parks and nature reserves, for walking, running, cycling and yoga under strict Covid-19 conditions.

The city's parks, recreation and culture department said at the time that residents would have access to parks, botanical gardens, nature reserves and sports grounds strictly for exercising and not for social gatherings.

August 03 2020 - 11:26

'ANC dropped the ball': Jackson Mthembu vows action on PPE saga

Minister in the presidency Jackson Mthembu says the ANC is committed to fighting all forms of corruption and malfeasance committed by its members.

Mthembu took to social media at the weekend to lambaste what he called “thugs” in the governing party who allegedly looted Covid-19 relief funds.

Mthembu acknowledged that the ANC had countless times “dropped the ball” and said the party's apology to the public was “sincere”. 

August 03 2020 - 11:07

Durban retirement facility struck by five new cases of Covid-19

Five new cases of Covid-19 have been recorded at a Durban retirement facility after elderly residents were exposed to a front-line doctor.

Three of the infected residents — at Kendra Gardens in Greyville — are in isolation, while the other two are in hospital.

Just more than a month ago an elderly couple living at the facility contracted the virus but they have since recovered.

August 03 2020 - 10:02

Overnight accommodation allowed for hunters under level 3 lockdown

Environment, forestry and fisheries minister Barbara Creecy has clarified uncertainty regarding overnight accommodation for hunters during level 3 lockdown.

Creecy said hunters are allowed to sleep over at their hunting destinations within the province in which they reside.

The minister said her department was amending directions for the biodiversity sector to align with last week's announcement by tourism minister Mmamoloko Kubayi-Ngubane.

August 03 2020 - 09:51

PODCAST | Prospective transplant patients face a Catch-22 decision due to Covid-19

It’s month four of SA’s national lockdown, and while most of us have begun to settle into the new normal, the danger Covid-19 presents for our country has not yet dissipated.

SA is now one of only five countries to have recorded over a half million confirmed Covid-19 cases. While these are daunting numbers for all of us, for South Africans desperately waiting for live-saving organ transplants, the mounting risks have them praying for a vaccine.

In this episode of Boots on the ground, we discuss how the pandemic has affected South Africans who are waiting for organ transplants. What are their fears, given the extraordinary risks, would they accept a transplant right now, and how has added pressure on hospitals affected the care they are able to receive?

August 03 2020 - 09:24

Australia to introduce pandemic leave disaster payment — PM

Australia will introduce a pandemic leave payment for workers who have run out of sick leave but need to be quarantined because they have been directed to stay at home due to the novel coronavirus, Prime Minister Scott Morrison said Monday.

The announcement comes as the country deals with a second wave of infections, and its second most populous state, Victoria, closes retail shops, limits construction projects and curtails manufacturing activity in order to slow the spread of Covid-19.

The payment will be a A$1,500 (over R18,000) for a two-week pandemic leave period. 

—Reuters

August 03 2020 - 09:05

WATCH | PPE found floating in river in Centurion

Essential personal protective equipment (PPE) meant to safeguard health-care workers and curb the spread of Covid-19 in the country, was found floating in a river in Centurion on Sunday.

Gauteng acting MEC for health Jacob Mamabolo confirmed the PPE was found floating in a river at the Irene Country Club.

Mamabolo said a criminal case had been opened.

August 03 2020 - 09:03

Pupils with comorbidities must produce proof when applying for exemption

Pupils with comorbidities must produce a medical certificate when they apply for partial or full exemption from compulsory school attendance.

This is according to the updated government gazette for education signed by basic education minister Angie Motshekga.

The updated gazette published on Sunday stated the school and the district office must immediately be informed when a pupil has to self-isolate at home after displaying symptoms of Covid-19 or after testing positive for the coronavirus.

August 03 2020 - 08:30

Parents mulling home-schooling must comply with these rules

Parents who choose to deregister their child from a school and apply for home schooling must comply with specified legal requirements.

This is according to an updated government gazette published for the education sector.

Parents who refrain from sending children back to school because of fears about Covid-19 infection will first need to apply for permission from the provincial education department.

August 03 2020 - 07:00

‘Who’s returning when?’ Teachers fret over grade phasing

There is anxiety among teachers and principals over when and how the phased return to school of the different grades will take place.

So say teachers' ​unions who worry about when all these plans will be gazetted.

August 03 2020 - 07:40

Singapore to make travellers wear electronic tags to enforce quarantine

Singapore will make some incoming travellers wear an electronic monitoring device to ensure that they comply with coronavirus quarantines as the city-state gradually reopens its borders, authorities said on Monday.

From August 11, the devices will be given to incoming travellers, including citizens and residents, from a select group of countries who will be allowed to isolate at home rather than at a state-appointed facility.

August 03 2020 - 07:00

1 in 5 school-aged children were out of school globally, even before COVID-19. And we know from previous health crises,...

Posted by UNICEF on Sunday, August 2, 2020

August 03 2020 - 06:40

Germany's confirmed coronavirus cases rise by 509 to 210,402

The number of confirmed coronavirus cases in Germany increased by 509 to 210,402, data from the Robert Koch Institute (RKI) for infectious diseases showed on Monday. The reported death toll rose by seven to 9,148, the tally showed. 

-Reuters

August 03 2020 - 06:00

Want to keep our kids home from school? Not so fast

If you don’t want to send your child back to school over coronavirus fears, the state has news for you. 

You'll ​need to get permission from the authorities - but that's not all.

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