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COVID-19 WRAP | SA moves to level 2 on Tuesday, alcohol & cigarette ban lifted, death toll nears 12,000 but infection rate drops

15 August 2020 - 10:14 By TimesLIVE
The ban on the sale of alcohol and cigarettes will be lifted from Monday midnight.
The ban on the sale of alcohol and cigarettes will be lifted from Monday midnight.
Image: 123RF/Vladislavs Gorniks

August 15 2020 - 20:42

Level 2 of lockdown: What's allowed — and what's not

Beaches and gyms are permitted to open from Tuesday but sports fans are not allowed at stadiums.

These are some of the changes as SA moves to lockdown level 2 on August 18, as announced by President Cyril Ramaphosa on Saturday night.

August 15 2020 - 20:12

Ramaphosa announces SA will move to lockdown level 2

President Cyril Ramaphosa has announced the entire country will be moving to alert level 2 with bans on travel between provinces and the sale of alcohol and tobacco products being lifted, under certain restrictions.

"We are ready to enter a new phase in the response to our pandemic," said Ramaphosa.

The easing from level 3 is effective from Monday midnight.

The move follows a special cabinet meeting on Saturday afternoon. Throughout the week, cabinet received advice from health experts who advised that the country has now managed to arrest rapid transmission of the Covid-19 virus and that health-care infrastructure would not be undermined.

"It has been an immensely difficult five months," Ramaphosa said, referring to the start of the lockdown.

"I address you this evening amid signs of hope. We are making progress on a number of fronts."

SA's number of Covid-19 infections has dropped from an average of 12,000 a day to around 5,000 a day over the past week and our recovery rate is around 80%.

"Fewer people are presenting with symptoms at our health facilities."

The number of people hospitalised has decreased from around 10,000 at the beginning of the month, to around 4,000.

A total of 11,667 people are confirmed to have died of Covid-19 in SA.

August 15 2020 - 16:23

US military will escort R6m PPE gift to hospitals amid corruption scandal

A consignment of personal protective equipment worth R6m arrived in a US military cargo plane at OR Tambo International Airport in Johannesburg on Saturday.

The masks, gloves, medical gowns and sanitising supplies were donated by the US military’s African Command (Africom) and are destined for front-line health-care workers in Gauteng, KwaZulu-Natal, the Western Cape and the Eastern Cape.

August 15 2020 - 15:56

Nearly half of Brazilians say Bolsonaro not to blame for coronavirus death toll, poll says

Almost half of Brazilians think President Jair Bolsonaro bears "no responsibility at all" for the country's more than 100,000 dead from the coronavirus pandemic, the world's second highest death toll, according to a new Datafolha poll.

The poll was published on Saturday in Brazil's Folha de Sao Paulo newspaper and says 47% of Brazilians do not assign him any blame for the body count, whereas 11% do.

Brazil has the world's worst outbreak outside of the US and Bolsonaro's response to the pandemic has been widely condemned by health experts. Right-wing Bolsonaro has pushed for the use of an unproven anti-malarial drug to fight the disease, replaced health ministers who opposed his agenda, encouraged Brazilians to oppose lockdown measures and shown indifference to the rising death toll.

Results from the same polling sample released on Friday showed that Bolsonaro currently enjoys the highest popularity rating of his administration, which began in 2019. 

- Reuters

August 15 2020 - 13:57

Covid-19 state of disaster extended to September 15 as Ramaphosa prepares to address nation

President Cyril Ramaphosa will address the nation about the Covid-19 state of disaster at 8pm on Saturday.

The announcement came as co-operative governance minister Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma published a government gazette extending the Covid-19 state of disaster for another month, until September 15.

Dlamini-Zuma said the extension took into account “the need to continue augmenting the existing legislation and contingency arrangements undertaken by organs of state to address the impact of the disaster”.

August 15 2020 - 11:53

Denmark to make face masks compulsory on public transport

Wearing face masks on public transport will be compulsory in Denmark from August 22 following a spike in numbers of new coronavirus cases, Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen said on Saturday.

In mid-April, Denmark became one the first European countries to ease its coronavirus lockdown as the epidemic appeared to be contained, but the reproduction rate at which it is spreading rose above 1.5 in the past week, the highest reading since early April.

Frederiksen said the surge also meant that plans to remove a limit on the size of public gatherings would be deferred, with the limit remaining at 100 people for the time being.

- Reuters

August 15 2020 - 10:54

Designer becomes colleagues' Hearo after taking the pain out of masks

A designer has come to the rescue of colleagues in a Covid-19 think-tank who complained about spending hours wearing masks fixed uncomfortably around their ears.

Lara Timm, who works in the medical devices laboratory at the University of Cape Town, invented the UCT Hearo for the university's Covid-19 research task team.

It is a soft, flexible, oval-shaped device that hugs the crown of the head. Its ear-loop hooks ensure masks sit snugly over the nose and mouth.

August 15 2020 - 10:38

Russia starts production of Covid-19 vaccine - report

Russia has started manufacturing its new vaccine for Covid-19, the Interfax news agency reported on Saturday, citing the health ministry.

Russia has said the vaccine, developed by Moscow's Gamaleya Institute and the first for the coronavirus to go into production, will be rolled out by the end of this month.

Some scientists said they fear Moscow may be putting national prestige before safety. 

- Reuters

August 15 2020 - 10:31

Tobacco firms to fight sales ban at Supreme Court of Appeal

The Fair-Trade Independent Tobacco Association (Fita) is still in the fight to overturn the lockdown ban on tobacco sales after the Supreme Court of Appeal agreed to hear its case.

The court granted access to the association on Friday after its application for leave to appeal was snuffed out by a full bench of the Pretoria high court last month.

Fita says the prohibition on tobacco sales has failed and, therefore, there “cannot be any possible basis for the ban”.

August 15 2020 - 10:05

South Korea capital returns to tougher social distancing rules as Covid-19 cases spike

South Korea reported 166 new coronavirus cases as of Friday, of which 155 were domestic, prompting the reimposition of tighter social distancing curbs in Seoul area as authorities worried about the spectre of a fresh wave of the disease.

South Korea used invasive tracing and widespread testing to contain its first outbreak of the novel coronavirus, but Asia’s fourth-largest economy has experienced persistent outbreaks in recent weeks, mostly in the densely populated capital area.

August 15 2020 - 09:54

Ukraine sees new record daily high of 1,847 coronavirus cases

Ukraine registered 1,847 new coronavirus cases in the past 24 hours, officials said on Saturday, a new daily record for infections in the country - which is seeing cases increase sharply following the easing of some Covid-19 restrictions.

The figure given by the national council of security and defence surpassed the previous single-day record of 1,732 reported on Friday. Total cases reached 89,719, including 2,044 deaths.

Infections have risen since June as authorities have eased some restrictions, allowing cafes, churches and public transport to reopen. 

- Reuters

August 15 2020 - 09:22

Worldwide coronavirus cases cross 21-million, death toll at 759,411

More than 21-million people have been reported to be infected by the novel coronavirus globally and 759,411​ 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.

The US has the most reported cases with 5,271,087, with Brazil second (3,224,876), India third (2,461,190), Russia fourth (907,758), and SA fifth (579,140).

- Reuters

August 15 2020 - 08:06

Sex workers' access to treatment stymied by Covid-19 lockdown

Lockdown may have undone the strides made to assist sex workers with health care, said members of the Soweto Sex Worker Project at Chris Hani Baragwanath Hospital.

The organisation’s Dr Jenny Coetzee said there was a significant decline in clinic attendance since the start of lockdown, with many people still not attending their regular clinic visits.