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COVID-19 WRAP | Mkhize defends health department budget cuts & traditional leaders want deputy minister sacked over ban on initiations

25 November 2020 - 07:18 By TimesLIVE
An employee of Cox Co, the operation company of the face-mask speciality shop Mask.com, shows off a luxury face mask made with about 330 pearls which is sellig for one million yen ($9,640), at the shop, amid the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak, in Tokyo, Japan November 25 2020.
An employee of Cox Co, the operation company of the face-mask speciality shop Mask.com, shows off a luxury face mask made with about 330 pearls which is sellig for one million yen ($9,640), at the shop, amid the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak, in Tokyo, Japan November 25 2020.
Image: REUTERS/Issei Kato

November 25 2020 - 17:46

Zweli Mkhize defends health department budget cuts

Health minister Zweli Mkhize has defended his government for its planned health department budget cuts, as fresh fears of a second wave of the Covid-19 pandemic surface.

The rise in the numbers of new Covid-19 infections has been evident, with the latest stats, from Tuesday, showing 2,493 new positive cases in a single day. However, most concerning is a positivity rate of upwards of 12%.

Answering a supplementary question during a parliamentary question and answer session on Wednesday from DA spokesperson Siviwe Gwarube, the minister said the challenge facing the government was competing priorities.

November 25 2020 - 17:44

Winde raises alarm as Covid-19 cases surge in parts of Western Cape

Western Cape premier Alan Winde and senior health officials have called for citizens to adopt responsible behaviour as escalating Covid-19 infections fill hospital beds.

Hospitalisations have doubled to 962 since reaching a low of 476 in September, and health department head Keith Cloete said critical-care admissions had increased by 75% since the start of November.

The Garden Route towns of George and Kynsna have recorded the most new Covid-19 infections, exceeding the peak of the local outbreak's first wave.

November 25 2020 - 17:37

Old Mutual becomes latest insurer to lose a Covid-19 case in court

Another insurance company has failed to defend its decision not to pay a claim for losses incurred due to the Covid-19 lockdown.

This time, Old Mutual Insure has been ordered by the Cape Town high court to make up the deficit in gross profit Interfax sustained, for a maximum of six months.

The company runs Luggage Warehouse stores at the V&A Waterfront, Kenilworth and Bellville in Cape Town, as well as online. MD Chris Warncke told the court the lockdown had been “catastrophic” for the stores' sustainability and the jobs of their 40 staff.

November 25 2020 -14:26

German restaurant bears out pandemic with furry customers

The owner of a Frankfurt restaurant is staging a protest against the coronavirus lockdown in Germany by filling his tables with a hundred stuffed toy pandas, in a play on the word "pandemic".

German officials are expected on Wednesday to agree to extend until Dec. 20 a "lockdown light" they imposed on Nov. 2 that means bars, restaurants and entertainment venues must stay closed, while shops and schools can remain open.

"We wanted to put some life back into our restaurant," said Guiseppe Fichera, manager of restaurant Pino. "They are Panda-Mic pandas.

"The pandas are seated at the restaurant's tables and propped up at the bar, some with bottles of Corona beer."

It is a silent protest. An offer to our guests," Fichera said, adding he would keep the lights on all day and night as long as the lockdown lasts so passersby can enjoy the display.

The German government has said it will extend financial aid for firms hit by the restrictions, which, according to sources, could add up to 20 billion euros ($23.81 billion) in December, in addition to an estimated 10-15 billion in November.

-REUTERS

November 25 2020 -12:15

Worldwide coronavirus cases cross 59.8 million, death toll at 1,409,664

More than 59.8 million people have been reported to be infected by the novel coronavirus globally and 1,409,664​ 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.

-REUTERS

November 25 2020 - 11:00

BioNTech, Fosun start Phase II trial of Covid-19 vaccine in China

BioNTech and Shanghai Fosun Pharmaceutical said on Wednesday they would launch a Phase II clinical trial of BioNTech's experimental Covid-19 vaccine in China.

The vaccine, known as BNT162b2, will be tested on volunteers at the Jiangsu Provincial Center for Disease Control and Prevention to assess safety and immunogenicity, eyeing future approval in China, the two companies said in a statement.

BioNTech is also working with U.S. pharma giant Pfizer on the vaccine and the partners said last week they were hoping to win approval in the United States and Europe this year after trial results showed the compound had a 95% efficacy rate and caused no serious side effects. 

-REUTERS

November 25 2020 - 10:30

'We can't afford another ban': Beer body wants you to slow down on the booze this Black Friday

The Beer Association of SA has called on traders and consumers of alcohol to be responsible ahead of Black Friday weekend.

The association said given the rise in Covid-19 infections in some provinces over the past few days, all role players needed to do their bit to help prevent the spread of the coronavirus.

“While the majority of South Africans do not consume alcohol at all, those who drink excessively place a heavy burden on our health system. It is therefore important that everybody recognises the need to trade responsibly and consume moderately as we head towards the festive season,” the association said.

November 25 2020 - 09:55

Covid-19: SA to pay R500m for access to vaccines to protect population

SA is going with the COVAX global Covid-19 vaccine distribution scheme, with a committed purchase for 10% of its population of 58m, a senior health official said on Tuesday.

Khadija Jamaloodien, director of affordable medicines at the health ministry, told Reuters SA had not yet signed the commitment agreement to participate in COVAX, but would do so once officials had completed the necessary administrative processes.

She said the facility would give the country an early batch of vaccines with which to start protecting people.

November 25 2020 - 09:32

Surge in coronavirus infections can affect financial stability, Swedish FSA says

 The second wave of COVID-19 that has hit Europe will dampen economic recovery and could affect financial stability in the longer term, Sweden's Financial Supervisory Authority said on Wednesday.

It said the measures to minimize the effect on economies meant many parts of the financial system were vulnerable, pointing to concerns over high levels of household borrowing, the commercial real estate sector as well as financial firms and markets.

-REUTERS

November 25 2020 - 08:51

Senior leader of India's Congress party dies of coronavirus complications

A senior leader of India's Congress party died of coronavirus related complications on Wednesday, his family said, a second veteran from the opposition group to fall victim to the virus in recent days, as total cases in the country touched the 9.2 million mark.

Ahmed Patel, a lawmaker who was party treasurer and was seen as close to the Gandhi family that leads the party, was detected with COVID-19 a month ago and died of multi-organ failure, his family said in a statement.

"I have lost an irreplaceable comrade, a faithful colleague and a friend," Congress president Sonia Gandhi said in a statement.

Earlier this week, another Congress veteran, Tarun Gogoi, died of health complications after contracting the virus in the eastern state of Assam, where he was chief minister for 15 years.

India reported 44,376 new infections and 481 deaths from the coronavirus, data from the health ministry showed on Wednesday. India has recorded 9.22 million infections, the second-highest in the world after the United States, and nearly 134,700 deaths.

Single-day cases stayed below the 50,000 mark for the 18th straight day, according to a Reuters tally, but government officials and health experts have warned of a potential spike in the country after the busy festival season.

-REUTERS

November 25 2020 - 07:19

Worldwide coronavirus cases cross 59.43 million, death toll at 1,403,065

More than 59.43 million people have been reported to be infected by the novel coronavirus globally and 1,403,065​ 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. 

-REUTERS

November 25 2020 - 06:30

Traditional leaders want deputy minister sacked over ban on initiations

Tension is brewing between co-operative governance deputy minister Obed Bapela and the Congress of traditional Leaders of SA (Contralesa) over the traditional summer initiation season.

The situation escalated on Tuesday to the point where Contralesa called on President Cyril Ramaphosa to fire Bapela, saying he had no regard for protocol, procedure, process and legality.

On Monday, Cogta issued a statement saying the traditional initiation practices remain officially suspended in a bid to contain Covid-19.

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