COVID-19 WRAP | SA confirms 15,000 new Covid-19 infections
January 11 2021 - 22:39
SA approaching 250,000 active cases as 15,000 new Covid-19 infections confirmed
The number of known active Covid-19 cases in SA has climbed close to 250,000, health ministry statistics released on Monday showed.
Minister Dr Zweli Mkhize said on Monday that there were now 1,246,643 Covid-19 infections confirmed since the outbreak of the coronavirus in SA 10 months ago. Of these, 15,046 were recorded in the past 24 hours — at a positivity rate of 28.66%.
However, statistics also showed that 239,799 of these cases were considered “active” — a 7,733 increase from the 232,066 active cases recorded by the release of Sunday's figures.
January 11 2021 - 22:03
Attending funerals has become a 'death trap': Cyril Ramaphosa
South Africans have to make peace with the fact that attending funerals while there is the Covid-19 pandemic is tantamount to spreading further death, mourning and suffering.
This is according to President Cyril Ramaphosa, who was addressing the nation on Monday night on the government's response to the pandemic.
Ramaphosa cautioned South Africans against exceeding the allowed number of mourners at funerals.
January 11 2021 - 21:39
IN FULL | Vaccines, booze ban and new curfew times: Ramaphosa's full address to SA
President Cyril Ramaphosa on Monday night announced that the country would remain under level 3 of the national lockdown, as cases continue to rise along with fears of a further spike in Gauteng.
The president also confirmed that the ban on alcohol sales would continue, and that the curfew had been extended although it would be an hour shorter.
Below is his full address, as sent to media after the speech.
January 11 2021 - 21:31
Land borders shut as SA struggles to contain Covid-19 infections
President Cyril Ramaphosa has announced closure of the country’s 20 land ports to the public — with people only allowed to cross in “limited circumstances”.
This is after the government realised that many people were being infected at the borders while waiting to be processed.
This is one of the two new regulations that have been added to the country's level 3 lockdown regulations, which have been extended to February 15.
January 11 2021 - 20:54
20 million vaccine doses secured, 'mainly in the course of this year': Ramaphosa
SA has secured 20 million doses of Covid-19 vaccines, with most to be delivered this year.
This is according to President Cyril Ramaphosa, who said that the country was “exploring all avenues to get as many vaccine doses as possible for South Africans”.
January 11 2021 - 20:46
Alcohol ban remains as lockdown level 3 extended: Cyril Ramaphosa
The country will remain on lockdown level 3, President Cyril Ramaphosa said on Monday night.
He said that nearly 190,000 new infections had been recorded since the start of the year, along with 4,600 Covid-19 related deaths in the same period.
January 11 2021 - 20:44
Vaccine strategy will be SA's biggest ever: Ramaphosa
President Cyril Ramaphosa said on Monday night that SA's "comprehensive" vaccine strategy would be its biggest ever, as it seeks "population immunity" from Covid-19.
"While the actual level needed for herd, or population, immunity, is not known, our scientists estimated that we will likely reach this immunity once around 67% of our population is immune. This amounts to around 40 million people in South Africa.
"We have put in place a comprehensive vaccination strategy to reach all parts of the country. This will be the largest and most complex logistical undertaking in our country's history. It will be far more extensive than our HIV treatment programme, and even our national, provincial and local government elections in terms of the number of people who have to be reached within a short space of time," he said.
To this end, Ramaphosa announced that SA had secured 20 million doses of Covid-19 vaccines, most to be delivered this year. He said that the country was "exploring all avenues to get as many vaccine doses as possible for South Africans".
"While there are several promising negotiations with a number of different manufacturers that still need to be concluded, we have to date secured 20 million doses, to be delivered mainly in the course of the year, and a substantial amount of it in the first half of the year," he said.
January 11 2021 - 20:32
Lockdown level 3 remains in place: Ramaphosa
The country will remain on lockdown level 3, President Cyril Ramaphosa said on Monday night.
While most of the regulations remained unchanged, Ramaphosa confirmed that the national curfew will now start at 9pm and end at 5am, and that the country's 20 land borders would be closed until February 15, apart from some exceptions.
"The sale of alcohol from retail outlets and the on-site consumption of alcohol is still not permitted," said Ramaphosa, adding that this was to to ease pressure on the country's health-care system - particularly for trauma cases.
January 11 2021 - 20:16
Ramaphosa worried about 'super-spreader' funerals
SA "simply cannot continue doing" funerals the way we have done so in the past.
So says President Cyril Ramaphosa, who was speaking on Monday night.
"Funerals have become a death trap for many of our people," he said.
January 11 2021 - 20:16
New Covid-19 variant not more fatal, but does put pressure on health systems
President Cyril Ramaphosa said on Monday night that the new Covid-19 variant was not more lethal than the original variant, but that it was more infectious - which put pressure on the country's health networks.
This, he said, was because the cases have increased so rapidly that hospitals "get full much more quickly".
"But one of the most important things that we know about the new variant is that we can prevent transmission using exactly the same measures that we've been using to protect ourselves, and others, all the time that we have experienced this virus," he said.
January 11 2021 - 20:11
'We must unite to face deepening crisis': Ramaphosa
Hospital admissions and new Covid-19 infections "have become far higher that it has ever been".
This is according to President Cyril Ramaphosa, who was addressing the nation on Monday night. He said that "nearly 190,000" new Covid-19 cases had been recorded since the start of the year, along with 4,600 Covid-19 related deaths in the same period.
He described Covid-19 as a "grave and persistent, deepening crisis" - and said the nation must united to face the challenge.
January 11 2021 - 20:06
Nation waits in anticipation as Ramaphosa 'family meeting' begins
President Cyril Ramaphosa has started his latest Covid-19 address to the nation, where he is widely expected to announce that level 3 lockdown regulations would be extended for a further month. The live address is available here.
January 11 2021 - 19:06
Schools could turn into Covid-19 'super-spreaders', says teachers' union
The reopening of schools later this month may lead to a spike in Covid-19 infections, a teachers' union said on Monday as it called on the department of basic education to “think carefully” about the move.
This as the DA conceded that pushing out the reopening date — now set for January 27 — would cause more harm than good.
The National Teachers' Union (Natu) said pupils from historically disadvantaged schools had fallen behind in the curriculum coverage last year, which saw many pupils not completing the academic year.
January 11 2021 - 17:53
India signs purchase order with Serum for AstraZeneca vaccine - source
India has signed a purchase order with vaccine producer Serum Institute to procure AstraZeneca's Covid-19 vaccine, a source said on Monday, the first step in one of the world's largest vaccination programmes against the novel coronavirus.
Local television channel CNBC-TV 18 said the order was for 11 million doses and the government would buy the shots at 200 rupees ($2.72) per dose.
The government has also signed a purchase agreement with Indian firm Bharat Biotech for its Covid-19 vaccine, the news channel reported, citing unnamed sources.
January 11 2021 - 17:38
Jackson Mthembu is fourth cabinet member to come down with Covid-19
Jackson Mthembu has tested positive for Covid-19, he confirmed on Monday.
Mthembu, the minister in the presidency, was tested on Monday “after showing some symptoms”.
“As per the Covid-19 regulations, minister Mthembu as well as those who have come into contact with him will immediately self-quarantine,” said cabinet spokesperson Phumla Williams.
January 11 2021 - 17:32
Too soon to tell if slight drop in Covid-19 infections means KZN has passed peak, says MEC
While it was “premature” to tell whether the province had passed its peak, the KZN health department had noted a slight decline in Covid-19 infections in the province.
Speaking during a public awareness campaign in KwaMashu, north of Durban on Monday, health MEC Nomagugu Simelane-Zulu said: “I'm not a scientist, so I can’t really speak on whether we are past our peak.
“At face value, our highest infections so far has been 6,700 in one day.”
January 11 2021 - 17:29
ACDP condemns 'indiscriminate shooting of Christians' by police
The African Christian Democratic Party (ACDP) has condemned what it labelled the “indiscriminate shooting of Christians” by the police during a church service in Sebokeng, south of Johannesburg, on Sunday morning.
TimesLIVE reported that the police used rubber bullets and stun grenades to disperse a group of about 250 people who had gathered for a church service in Sebokeng Zone 7.
Two church leaders, aged 47 and 69, were arrested for contravening level 3 lockdown regulations, which do not allow for church services to be held.
January 11 2021 - 17:25
US ambassador praises SA health workers after 10 days in ICU with Covid-19
The US ambassador to SA, Lana Marks, spent 10 days in intensive care while recovering from Covid-19, the US embassy has revealed.
In a statement on Monday, Marks details how she started to experience Covid-19 symptoms the day after Christmas and ended up in ICU two days later.
The ambassador says she, alongside a family member, started to experience fever, chills, a sore throat and fatigue on December 26. They isolated at home as residence staff were also on holiday. Things escalated as she began to experience shortness of breath and extreme weakness.
January 11 2021 - 17:11
'I can't breathe!': Durban hospital probed after video shows patient screaming for help
The KwaZulu-Natal health department has attributed staff absenteeism and the high number of patients who turned up at Wentworth Hospital after a video showed what appeared to be a lack of care for patients.
The video started circulating at the weekend, showing patients sleeping on the floor, unattended, or in chairs - while one woman screams for help, saying she cannot breathe. In the video, which is about 90 seconds long, no staff members are seen responding to or attending to the woman. It is unclear who took the video.
The department said it immediately dispatched a high-level delegation of managers from its head office after becoming aware of the video.
January 11 2021 - 16:30
Too afraid to go to public hospital, many are dying of Covid-19 at home
Many critically ill Covid-19 sufferers appear to be dying at home because they are too afraid to go to a public hospital, a top government health official said on Monday.
As a result, private hospitals are in some cases transferring patients to public facilities where there is more space, said Dr Anban Pillay, health department deputy director-general responsible for health regulation and sector-wide procurement of essential medicines.
“You get a call to say a person is having difficulty breathing, but are scared to go into hospital,” Pillay said in an interview with Business Day TV.
January 11 2021 - 14:46
WATCH | Khanyi Mbau questions Ramaphosa on rising Covid-19 death toll and alcohol industry
Media personality Khanyi Mbau is not convinced alcohol is one of the main reasons why the number of Covid cases and deaths continue to skyrocket, and posed her questions to President Cyril Ramaphosa in a video that ignited heated debate.
The reality TV star, who explained she has many unanswered questions regarding the ban on alcohol sales, distribution and public consumption, took to Twitter to ask the president how government plans to help employees who can't provide for their families due to closed trade in the liquor industry.
In the video, Khanyi said despite the alcohol ban, she has noticed an increase in Covid-19 cases and deaths almost daily.
January 11 2021 - 14:38
Ramaphosa to address SA tonight
PRESIDENT RAMAPHOSA TO ADDRESS THE NATION ON DEVELOPMENTS IN SA’S COVID-19 RESPONSE— Presidency | South Africa 🇿🇦 (@PresidencyZA) January 11, 2021
President @CyrilRamaphosa will address the nation at 20h00 today, Monday 11 January 2021, on developments in relation to the country’s response to the Coronavirus pandemic.
January 11 2021 - 14:31
IEC seeks to postpone latest round of by-elections due to Covid-19
The second wave of Covid-19 and strict regulations limiting gatherings have forced the Electoral Commission (IEC) to seek a postponement of the latest rounds of by-elections.
The IEC announced on Monday that it has again approached the Electoral Court to postpone by-elections after the implementation of Covid-19 level 3 lockdown restrictions.
The commission is seeking the court’s approval to postpone by-elections scheduled for January 20, February 3 and February 17 on the basis that the latest regulations curtail political activities, “imperilling” the freeness and fairness of the elections.
January 11 2021 - 14:07
Grade 12 exam marking extended as marker dies, some withdraw due to Covid-19
The department of basic education has extended the marking of grade 12 exam papers due to a shortage of markers after some withdrew or declined to work, often because of Covid-19.
This was revealed by an education official during a media briefing on Monday. It was also revealed that marking would go on for 18 days, as opposed to 12 to 14 days in previous years.
Marking started on January 4 and was expected to be completed on January 22.
“To date 2,703 of 46,024 markers withdrew,” said Priscilla Ogunbanjo, director for examinations at the department.
She said one marker in Estcourt, KwaZulu-Natal, reported for duty at a marking centre while feeling sick and later died of Covid-19 complications. Another marker has since contracted the coronavirus at the centre.
January 11 2021 - 14:02
Nasrec facility will help as Gauteng hospitalisations surge: David Makhura
Gauteng premier David Makhura said Tshwane is the hardest-hit by the second wave of Covid-19 as it records the province's highest daily infections.
“It's at the centre, it's where the heat is at the moment,” Makhura said.
He said the evidence showed that the second wave would be worse than the first.
“We are just where we were at the peak of the first wave and we are passing that peak, all models are telling us,” he said.
Makhura visited Steve Biko Academic Hospital in the city with the health MEC, Dr Nomathemba Mokgethi, on Monday. This was after the department of health reported that the hospital was experiencing a sharp increase in the number of Covid-19 patients, which has been noted since December.
January 11 2021 - 12:58
POLL | What are you expecting from Ramaphosa's 'family meeting'?
President Cyril Ramaphosa is expected to hold a “family meeting” on Monday evening, where he is set to extend the level 3 lockdown to February 15.
This is according to an insider in the national coronavirus command council (NCCC).
The insider told Sunday Times Daily that Ramaphosa would not be moving the country into a harder lockdown level 4, as stated in rumours doing the rounds.
January 11 2021 - 12:55
'It represents pure capitalist greed and opportunism': Shivambu slams SAB campaign against booze ban
EFF deputy president Floyd Shivambu has slammed SA Breweries' social media campaign against the alcohol ban, claiming it “represents pure capitalist greed and opportunism”.
SAB spearheaded a campaign on social media against the ban, allegedly including influencers such as Khanyi Mbau.
According to a brief purportedly sent by SAB to influencers, the campaign was set to run from January 4 until February 4.
The “underground” campaign by South African Breweries (@abinbev) represents pure capitalist greed and opportunism. The scientific reality is that the socio economic, healthcare and general damage and destruction caused by alcohol far outweigh the livelihood benefits. Desist guys!— Floyd Shivambu (@FloydShivambu) January 10, 2021
SAB has formed part of the fabric of SA for the last 125 years & we've stood behind the nation through its triumphs & challenges. After much consideration,SAB has decided to approach the Courts to challenge the Constitutionality of the decision taken to re-ban the sale of alcohol pic.twitter.com/40rWpJSW5b— SABreweries (@SABreweries) January 6, 2021
January 11 2021 - 12:44
Covid-19 claims champion of rural women's rights Sizani Ngubane
Champion of rural women’s rights Sizani Ngubane was laid to rest in the KwaZulu-Natal midlands on Saturday, more than two weeks after she died alone in her home from complications related to Covid-19.
Ngubane, 74, was the founder of the Rural Women’s Movement which has been at the forefront of advancing the legal rights of rural women in SA.
The movement and its members are applicants in a high court case against the Ingonyama Trust, its board, ministers and others relating to the alleged imposition of leases by the trust, and rentals to be paid to them by the rural poor. The matter is pending.
January 11 2021 - 11:33
'Family meeting' on lockdown rules imminent: Level 3 set to be extended by President Ramaphosa
President Cyril Ramaphosa is expected to address the nation on Monday night, according to an insider in the national coronavirus command council (NCCC) and a hint from Gauteng premier David Makhura.
The insider told Sunday Times Daily the president will not move the country into a harder lockdown level 4, as previously rumoured.
He said lockdown level 3 will be extended until February 15 and the curfew will be amended to between 9pm and 5am, from 9am to 6am.
January 11 2021 - 11:12
Families warned not to exhume Covid-19 corpses despite deceased appearing in dreams
Because of traditional and religious beliefs, some Eastern Cape families are defying Covid-19 regulations by exhuming the corpses of people who died after contracting the coronavirus, saying the plastic used to encase the corpses suffocates their dead relatives.
The Faleni family in Nkwenkwana village in Ngcobo said they had not slept peacefully since burying a loved one who had succumbed to the virus.
They recently hired 10 men to exhume the body to remove the plastic cover.
January 11 2021 - 11:11
After children poisoned, parents have to deal with Covid deaths, medical bills, court action
When Matthew Ingram and his sister Tammy died of pesticide poisoning, he had been reading a book about the holocaust — one where two children held hands as their bodies shut down from the gas they never knew they were inhaling.
The similarities of what befell the characters in the book, discovered in Matthew’s room only recently, and what the Ingram siblings experienced seven decades later, is frightening — but for grieving parents Stanton and Selina Ingram, the nightmare is far from over.
As they battle through endless medical bills and try to cope with their new normal — one without the sound of laughter coming from their children’s bedrooms and spontaneous hugs — they are aware of what lies ahead: a court case which could drag on for years.
January 11 2021 - 11:10
Second wave hasn't peaked yet, say experts
Medical experts believe that SA is yet to reach its peak of the second wave of the Covid-19 pandemic, despite record numbers of cases recorded in the past few days.
University of the Witwatersrand vaccinologist Prof Shabir Madhi warned that the situation is going to get worse before it gets better.
“When you look at the trajectory of the epidemic and what happened in the Western Cape and the Eastern Cape and how long they took to peak, in the next few weeks, as people start returning to work, they are more likely to be in contact with other people. That will contribute to a further increase in infection,” Madhi said.
January 11 2021 - 11:05
'No-one will die because you weren't part of a funeral': Limpopo health MEC urges 'virtual support'
Limpopo health MEC Dr Phophi Ramathuba has urged mourners to reconsider attending funerals amid the Covid-19 pandemic and instead offer “virtual support” to grieving families.
She said some families choose not to disclose that their loved ones died from illnesses related to Covid-19 and are close contacts of the deceased, which could contribute to a spike in infections.
“Families are not disclosing that their loved ones died of complications associated with Covid-19. They are serving you tea while they know they are close contacts of the deceased.
“Send them condolences messages. Buy them flowers or even e-wallet them. They will appreciate this. Let’s all stay safe,” she tweeted on Sunday.
She also shared a poster stating catering and weekly visits to the grieving during the pandemic are “not necessary”.
“No-one will die because you were not part of a funeral.”
Families are not disclosing that their loved once died of COVID 19 complications. They are busy serving you tea while they know their close contacts of the deceased. Send them condolences messages. Buy them flowers or even e wallet them. They will appreciate Let’s all stay safe. pic.twitter.com/wY9RnHz7R8— Dr Phophi Ramathuba (@PhophiRamathuba) January 10, 2021
January 11 2021 - 10:47
Health worker held after attempted theft of PPE
An Eastern Cape health worker was nabbed at the weekend for allegedly attempting to steal eight boxes of personal protective equipment (PPE).
Spotted by a vigilant security guard as he was about to leave the Frontier Hospital in Komani on Saturday, the man was arrested and detained by police.
He is expected to appear in court soon.
The accused was one of hundreds of people the provincial government had roped in to help fight the spread of Covid-19.
Eastern Cape health MEC Sindiswa Gomba thanked all security guards for carrying out their duties well.
“Had it not been for the vigilance of the security guard, the worker would have succeeded in stealing the PPE,” Gomba said.
“We condemn such thievery with the contempt it deserves.
“By stealing the PPE, the worker was leaving front-line workers like nurses and doctors defenceless against this vicious virus that has already killed 8,662 people in the Eastern Cape.”
Gomba called on the criminal justice system to make an example out of the arrested man.
January 11 2021 - 10:41
Taps run dry for fourth day in Durban Covid-19 hotspot
Hundreds of Chatsworth households woke to dry taps on Monday as technicians attempted to repair a water pump in Northdene.
A Covid-19 hotspot, Chatsworth has been without water for four days.
The community has been largely relying on civil society and neighbouring communities for water and claim that municipal water tankers have not been operating in all parts of the area.
The eThekwini municipality said on Sunday evening that the water shortage was a result of an “unexpected malfunctioning of a pump” in Northdene.
“A contractor has been appointed with speed to replace the pump and is currently on site. Welders are also on site to bypass a normal main water supply pipe,” the municipality said in a post on Facebook.
January 11 2021 - 10:32
'In the second wave, Tshwane Metro has the highest number of daily infections': Makhura
January 11 2021 - 09:25
Police use force to disperse churchgoers violating lockdown regulations
Police used rubber bullets and stun grenades to disperse a group of about 250 people who had gathered for a church service in Sebokeng Zone 7 in the Vaal area on Sunday.
Two church leaders aged 47 and 69 were arrested for contravening level 3 lockdown regulations which do not allow for church services to be held.
A 62-year-old woman was arrested for a similar contravention and for an additional charge of public violence.
January 11 2021 - 08:53
SA's total Covid-19 death toll climbs to 33,163
SA recorded 339 deaths related to Covid-19 on Sunday night, bringing the country’s total death toll to 33,163
Health minister Zweli Mkhize said the country recorded 17,421 new Covid-19 cases, bringing the total to 1,231,597.
He said a cumulative total of 7,183,893 tests have been completed, with 63,046 tests conducted since the last report.
Of the 339 deaths related to Covid-19, the Eastern Cape recorded 77, Free State 19, Gauteng 28, KwaZulu-Natal 71, Limpopo 14, Mpumalanga 10, Northern Cape 7 and Western Cape 113.
January 11 2021 - 08:50
Salary freeze for four months at Amathole municipality
The Amathole municipality in the Eastern Cape will not be able to pay salaries to councillors, traditional leaders and all staff for four months beginning in February due to strained financial resources.
The non-payment of salaries will affect 1,670 people.
In a circular signed by municipal manager Thandekile Mnyimba and dated January 7, he said there a number of factors that have contributed to the financial situation in the municipality.
He said the municipality collected less than 25% revenue in the first two quarters of the 2020/21 financial year, and drought and the Covid-19 pandemic has further strained the financial resources.
January 11 2021 - 08:20
SAB defends social media campaign against booze ban
SA Breweries has defended its decision to campaign on social media against the government's alcohol ban.
The campaign which, according to a brief purportedly sent by SAB to influencers taking part, indicates that the campaign ran from January 4 and will end on February 4.
SAB told TimesLIVE that while the beer giant stands behind the government and its commitment to fighting the rapid spread of Covid-19 SA is currently experiencing, it strongly disagrees with the introduction of this third outright ban on the sale of alcohol.
January 11 2021 - 07:34
Should Saffas expect a family meeting this week?
Just concluded an engagement with interfaith leaders where we discussed the #COVID19 risk-adjusted strategy, at a time of rapidly rising infections and sadly, many deaths. We gave an update on rate of infections, hospital admissions, lives lost and the vaccine rollout strategy.— Cyril Ramaphosa 🇿🇦 #StaySafe (@CyrilRamaphosa) January 10, 2021