COVID-19 LIVE UPDATES | SA records 216 deaths in 24 hours

SA’s death toll climbed to just shy of 25,000 Covid-19 related deaths, as the total number of confirmed infections moved past 930,000.

22 December 2020 - 07:16 By TimesLIVE
Beachgoers are seen at Bondi Beach in the wake of an outbreak of the coronavirus disease (Covid-19) in Sydney, Australia, December 22, 2020.
Beachgoers are seen at Bondi Beach in the wake of an outbreak of the coronavirus disease (Covid-19) in Sydney, Australia, December 22, 2020.
Image: REUTERS/Loren Elliott

December 22 2020 - 19:34

Garden Route beaches to remain closed as DA loses court battle

The DA has lost its court bid to overrule the government's decision to close Garden Route beaches for the December holidays.

The Western Cape High Court handed down the judgment on Tuesday.

“While we are disappointed by the ruling in favour of beach closures, we welcome the amended hours of beach operation which we have managed to get changed from 9am-6pm, to 6am-7pm.  We also welcome the court’s awarding of 50% of our costs as per the ruling.

December 22 2020 - 17:49

Sars to lock down offices for two weeks to curb spread of Covid-19

The SA Revenue Service (Sars) will be instituting a two-week lockdown of its offices because of concerns over the rise in Covid-19 cases.

The closure, between December 24 and January 4, is intended to curb potential infections among taxpayers and the agency’s staff, Sars said on Tuesday.

Branches will operate remotely via digital channels and existing in-branch appointments will be honoured, it said.

December 22 2020 - 17:47

Western Cape health-care workers exhausted as Covid-19 roars again

Western Cape health workers are exhausted by the burden of Covid-19 cases and are experiencing high rates of infection themselves.

The province has 761 active infections among health workers, with 68 in hospital and five mortalities in the past fortnight, head of health Dr Keith Cloete said on Tuesday. Ninety-four health institutions have infected staff.

Cloete said the province was experiencing a distinct second wave that was significantly higher than the first wave, with increases  in oxygen use, hospitalisations, deaths and positive tests.

December 22 2020 - 14:30

Coronavirus: The board game — German sisters' invention sells out for Christmas

At a loose end during Germany's first lockdown, the four Schwaderlapp sisters decided to put their long hours indoors to good use — by inventing a coronavirus board game that is selling by the thousands.

“Corona” can be played by up to four players, who compete to buy all the groceries on a shopping list for an elderly neighbour who is shielding against the virus.

December 22 2020 - 13:51

In Greece, wastewater analysis gives clues to Covid-19 viral load

Shortly before a surge in infections prompted Greece to impose a second coronavirus lockdown in early November, chemists at a wastewater treatment plant had already concluded that tougher restrictions would likely be necessary.

Their clue? Samples of sewage from the capital Athens. Daily collections of wastewater are analysed at the University of Athens to determine the level of viral load and the expected Covid-19 infections in the community.

December 22 2020 - 13:47

Thai PM blames virus surge on illegal migration

Thailand's prime minister on Tuesday attributed a recent surge in coronavirus cases to illegal migration and said additional regulations to fight the epidemic could be announced this week.

Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha said he would meet his Covid-19 task force this week and may introduce “appropriate” measures ahead of New Year celebrations, without elaborating.

December 22 2020 - 12:42

SA pays R283m deposit to secure access to Covid-19 vaccines

The national health department and the Solidarity Fund confirmed on Tuesday that a down payment of R283m had been made to secure SA’s entry to the Covax facility.

The payment was made in line with the fund’s previous allocation of funds and commitment to support the government’s efforts to accelerate the rollout of Covid-19 vaccines in SA.

Concerns were raised earlier that SA had missed a December 15 deadline to pay the deposit towards the vaccine programme.

December 22 2020 - 11:32

Covid-19 checks and curfew add to Beitbridge border traffic jam

Travellers are sleeping in their parked vehicles while waiting to cross the Beitbridge border post in Limpopo, where queues of trucks, taxis and cars stretch for kilometres.

The border post, considered to be a gateway to Africa, is traditionally busy over the festive season. Even though there is less traffic this festive season, curfews and Covid-19 health checks have added to the congestion.

December 22 2020 - 10:05

Indian Covid-19 vaccine maker says recruitment for trials on track

The maker of one of India's leading Covid-19 vaccine candidates said on Tuesday its recruitment of volunteers for a late-stage trial of the shot was on track, after reports of a shortage of participants.

December 22 2020 - 09:36

On Congo's muddy trails, lessons for a global Covid vaccine rollout

When Ebola hit the city of Mbandaka in northwest Congo in 2018, health officials had to act fast — the city was connected via regular boat service to the sprawling capital Kinshasa, where the deadly virus could spread out of control.

Unlike in previous outbreaks, they had a new weapon — an experimental vaccine that could revolutionise the fight against Ebola — if they could keep the vials between minus 60-80 °C in tropical humidity and across rough terrain.

December 22 2020 - 09:12

Singapore's happy 'glampers' pick airport stays for year-end holidays

Staying overnight at an airport isn't unheard of, especially if you miss a flight. But choosing to spend your holidays there in a tent is something entirely different.

With the coronavirus pandemic severely limiting trips abroad, some in Singapore this holiday season are going "glamping", or glamourous camping, staying overnight in luxury tents at the retail and leisure wing of the city-state's Changi Airport.

December 22 2020 - 08:10

After months of inaction, US Congress approves $892bn Covid-19 relief package

The US Congress on Monday approved an $892 billion coronavirus aid package, throwing a lifeline to the nation's pandemic-battered economy after months of inaction, while also keeping the federal government funded.

President Donald Trump is expected to sign the package into law.

December 22 2020 - 07:42

India records lowest daily coronavirus tally since July 3

India has recorded 19,556 new cases of the coronavirus, according to health ministry data on Tuesday, its lowest daily increase since July 3.

The new infections took India's total to 10.08 million, according to a Reuters tally.

Daily cases have been falling steadily in India since a peak in September, in spite of a busy festival season last month.

India has recorded the world's second-highest number of infections, after the United States.

A total of 146,111 people have died of the coronavirus in India, with 301 deaths in the last 24 hours, the ministry said. 


December 22 2020 - 07:00

Thailand confirms 427 new coronavirus infections

Thailand confirmed 427 new coronavirus infections on Tuesday, with the majority of cases linked to a seafood centre outbreak in a province near the capital Bangkok, the public health ministry said.

The new cases include 397 migrant workers in the southwestern province of Samut Sakhon, where Thailand's coronavirus worst outbreak yet was confirmed at the weekend.

There were also 16 other local infections in several provinces which are linked to the same outbreak, plus 14 cases imported from abroad. 


December 22 2020 - 06:48

WATCH | Biden gets coronavirus vaccine as US inoculation effort mounts

US President-elect Joe Biden received his first injected dose of the Covid-19 vaccine live on television on Monday in an effort to boost confidence in its safety ahead of its wide distribution next year.

December 22 2020 - 06:38

Germany's confirmed coronavirus cases rise by 19,528 - RKI

The number of confirmed coronavirus cases in Germany increased by 19,528 to 1,530,180, data from the Robert Koch Institute (RKI) for infectious diseases showed on Tuesday.

The reported death toll rose by 731 to 27,006, the tally showed.


December 22 2020 - 06:00

As thousands prepare to travel long-distance, operators say they need help with masks and sanitisers

Taxi owners have called on the government to help them protect passengers from Covid-19, as tens of thousands of people prepare for long-distance travel home for the holidays.