COVID-19 WRAP | SA's total Covid-19 fatalities pass 34,000

12 January 2021 - 07:35 By TimesLIVE
A City of Cape Town resident praying for loved ones suffering from Covid-19 outside Melomed Tokai in Cape Town on January 10 2021.
A City of Cape Town resident praying for loved ones suffering from Covid-19 outside Melomed Tokai in Cape Town on January 10 2021.
Image: Esa Alexander

January 12 2021 - 20:55

755 deaths recorded in 24 hours, as SA's total Covid-19 fatalities pass 34,000

More than 200 deaths were recorded in both Gauteng and KwaZulu-Natal in the past 24 hours, as SA passed the 34,000 mark in terms of Covid-19 fatalities.

In total, health minister Dr Zweli Mkhize said in a statement on Tuesday night, 755 deaths were recorded across SA. Gauteng accounted for 255 of these deaths, KwaZulu-Natal 218, the Eastern Cape 134, the Western Cape 128, the Free State 26, Limpopo and Mpumalanga 11 each, and the Northern Cape two.

This means that 34,334 deaths have now been recorded since the outbreak of the illness.

PODCAST: Tough love and real science for Ramaphosa

January 12 2021 - 19:23

7,000 arrested in two weeks for not wearing masks: Bheki Cele

At least 7,000 South Africans have been arrested and charged for not wearing protective masks in public between December 27 and January 7, earning them criminal records.

This was revealed by police minister Bheki Cele who had been speaking to eNCA on Tuesday evening.

During the interview, Cele said 20,116 people were arrested between December 27 — the day before lockdown level 3 restrictions came into effect — and January 7.

January 12 2021 - 19:16

Transactions, not transmissions! NDZ warns banks over ‘superspreader’ ATMs

Co-operative governance and traditional affairs minister Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma has issued a stern warning to banks, telling them to provide sanitisers at their ATMs or face the might of the law.

She said should a bank fail to follow the new regulations, it would be liable to a fine and its bosses may be sentenced to six months in prison, or both, in line with the lockdown regulations.

Dlamini-Zuma was addressing the media on Tuesday following the extension of the lockdown level 3 with new, stricter regulations.

January 12 2021 - 18:20

This is how vaccinations will be done, and the IEC is at the heart of planning

About 100,000 health-care workers in the Western Cape are set to be vaccinated against Covid-19 as provincial authorities gear themselves up for what is arguably the biggest vaccination programme the country has seen.

The head of health in the province, Dr Keith Cloete, said on Tuesday that health-care workers in the public and private sectors, including students, community health workers and people working in health-care centres and the military, will be prioritised in the first phase.

The second phase will also target essential workers, including police, teachers, municipal workers and other vulnerable people, including those who live in crowded communities and the elderly, while the third phase will see those over 18 vaccinated.

January 12 2021 - 18:11

KZN traditional leaders call on communities to obey Covid-19 rules

Traditional leaders in KwaZulu-Natal are calling on communities to adhere to Covid-19 regulations after the province recorded the highest number of cases per the proportion of the population over the past week. 

On Tuesday the provincial department of co-operative governance & traditional affairs urged people to abide by the extended containment measures following President Cyril Ramaphosa’s address on Monday. 

Ramaphosa revealed the country has recorded nearly 190,000 new coronavirus infections and more than 4,000 deaths this year alone.

January 12 2021 - 17:52

Gauteng Covid-19 deaths spiked 155% in first week of January: Makhura

The number of people in Gauteng who succumbed to complications related to Covid-19 between the last week of December and the first week of January this year skyrocketed, premier David Makhura said on Tuesday.  

He was providing an update on the province’s health response to the pandemic since last month. He said he was particularly concerned about the fatality rate.

“Our overall fatality rate is less than 2% — at 1.8% in Gauteng. When we do a comparison per week, we see the number of people succumbing to Covid-19 is increasing quite significantly. In the last week of December, it increased by 123% [from the week before]. In the week that follows that, leading up to early January, it increased by 155%. As we speak, it has increased by 10%,” he said.  

January 12 2021 - 17:00

IN QUOTES | David Makhura says partying youth were 'drivers' of increased Covid-19 infections

Gauteng premier David Makhura has issued a warning to young people who are violating lockdown regulations.

During a media briefing on Tuesday, Makhura warned that hospitals in the province were reporting high admissions of young people as the country battles the second wave of Covid-19.

He said the provincial government welcomes the decision to remain on alert level 3 lockdown as this will help contain the spread of Covid-19 in the province. 

January 12 2021 - 16:23

WATCH LIVE | Dlamini-Zuma and Motsoaledi on Covid-19 regulations

Cogta minister Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma and home affairs minister Aaron Motsoaledi will lead a media briefing on the Covid-19 regulations after President Cyril Ramaphosa's address on Monday night.

Ramaphosa announced that SA would remain under level 3 of the national lockdown.

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.

January 12 2021 - 15:40

KZN education MEC rejects union calls to halt matric marking after Covid-19 deaths

Union calls to halt matric marking in KwaZulu-Natal after the deaths of two teachers from two different marking centres have been rejected by the provincial education department.

Teacher unions raised concerns about the safety of their members at matric exam marking centres after the death of two markers, one from the Estcourt marking centre and the other from the Inanda Seminary marking centre in Durban.  

The Educators' Union of South Africa’s general secretary Siphiwe Mpungose has been at the forefront of this call, citing concern over the safety of markers. But education MEC Kwazi Mshengu said there was no need for concern.

January 12 2021 - 15:10

Cassper on why he will be taking the vaccine: 'I am going to do what I am told to do'

For the sake of his livelihood and things getting back to normal, rapper Cassper Nyovest has disclosed that he'd be open to receiving a vaccination shot.

The rapper's views come after President Cyril Ramaphosa's speech on Monday night where he revealed that 20 million doses of vaccines were coming to SA.

Though the president didn't share actual details of any progress, or specific acquisition plans, or when he may have more details, Ramaphosa explained that a “Covid-19 vaccine strategy is well under way”. 

January 12 2021 - 15:01

'I feel I let my country down' in vaccine race, says Prof Salim Abdool Karim

“I feel like I let my country down.”

These were the words of Prof Salim Abdool Karim, chairperson of the Covid-19 ministerial advisory committee.

Speaking on SAfm on Tuesday, the professor said he should have joined other global scientists and helped create a Covid-19 vaccine that would have also benefited SA.

Abdool Karim said when the virus hit SA in 2019, he had had discussions with Prof Lynn Morris, who at the time was the  interim director of the National Institute for Communicable Diseases where he said he was willing to attempt to formulate a vaccine.

January 12 2021 - 14:58

Gauteng health facilities to increase bed capacity as Covid-19 hospital admissions surge

A total of 525 beds are expected to be added in Gauteng health facilities to deal with surging Covid-19 infections as more young people are being admitted to hospitals.  

This was revealed by premier David Makhura on Tuesday on behalf of the provincial command council.  

Makhura said in the past seven days, the infection rate in the province had doubled and the number of cases would not decrease soon.

January 12 2021 - 14:20

Newborn dad's desperate dash for baby formula ends in curfew arrest

A father from Centurion was arrested for rushing to a nearby hospital during curfew hours to buy formula milk for his newborn baby.

His lawyer, Lily Rautenbach, told TimesLIVE on Tuesday that the man went to the pharmacy at Netcare Unitas Hospital at around 1am on Friday to buy formula milk for his two-day-old baby.

The baby was born on January 6. Both mom and baby were discharged from hospital on January 7, Rautenbach said.

January 12 2021 - 14:19

'Tell him to wear a mask and keep to curfew' - Mzansi freaks out over hippo spotted near Fourways

Social media was in meltdown mode this week after reports that a hippo was spotted near Fourways in Gauteng.

In a statement. the Gauteng agriculture and rural development department cautioned the public to be on the lookout and steer clear of the mammal, which was initially spotted in the area on December 29.

“The department has alerted the SAPS, together with the local conservation practitioners in the area and a private security company who assist on wildlife issues. [The department] is collaborating with these stakeholders to monitor the movements of the hippo,” it said.

January 12 2021 - 13:57

UDM leader Bantu Holomisa defends his Covid-19 concoction

UDM leader Bantu Holomisa has clapped back at critics over his use of Galela Oil, a concoction he takes to “protect” himself from getting Covid-19.

In a post on social media this week, Holomisa wrote: “Prevention is better than cure. Nxamalala (Khulubuse Zuma), since you introduced me to the Galela concoction in November last year, I managed to get few bottles from Thami Mtshali.

January 12 2021 - 13:45

DJ Warras on government willing to lose billions rather than trust 'weak' law enforcement

DJ Warras is one of several Mzansi celebrities who weighed in on the contents of President Cyril Ramaphosa's “family meeting” on Monday night, and he believes that the government would rather lose billions of rand than put their trust in the “weak” law enforcement structures.

Warras' comments came after a heated debate ensued on social media around Ramaphosa's speech.

The discussion on his TL touched on several points of the speech but focused more intensely on the alcohol ban which the president said will remain in place until reviewed once more.

January 12 2021 - 13:21

IN QUOTES | David Makhura says Gauteng is in the eye of second Covid-19 storm and it’s worse than expected

Gauteng premier David Makhura says the province is in the eye of the Covid-19 storm and cases are doubling faster than expected.

Makhura was speaking during a visit to the Steve Biko Academic Hospital in Pretoria on Monday.

He said the next few weeks will be very challenging for the province as the number of Covid-19 infections continue to rise.

To date, the province has 338,071 confirmed Covid-19 cases with 6,170 deaths.

January 12 2021 - 13:19

ICA unsurprised insurer will only pay three months for business interruption claims

Specialist public loss adjuster Insurance Claims Africa (ICA) says it is unsurprised but disappointed by Santam’s decision to settle Covid-19 business interruption claims for a period of three months only.

After seven months of legal wrangling and Santam’s refusal to pay its customers' business interruption claims, the company conceded last week that it was liable.

It also announced that it will commence the process of assessing claims.

It said the claims in question are those affected by the recent judgment in the Western Cape High Court in the case between the insurer and Ma-Afrika Hotels and The Stellenbosch Kitchen.

In its judgment in November, the court said Santam was liable to indemnify the two businesses in terms of the business interruption section of their insurance policies. The court said the period of indemnity was 18 months.

January 12 2021 - 13:17

Schools are controlled environments so are not similar to mass gatherings: Prof Salim Abdool Karim

Scientist and chairperson of the Covid-19 ministerial advisory committee Prof Salim Abdool Karim on Tuesday expressed his views on whether it was safe to open schools while the country is in the midst of a second wave of infections that is claiming hundreds of lives daily.

He said his biggest concern was the disruptions that would be caused if teachers,  other school staff and pupils contract the coronavirus and force schools to temporarily close for sanitisation.

He conceded, however, that teachers and pupils would not necessarily contract the coronavirus in the school environment but could bring it to school from their communities.

January 12 2021 - 13:12

Well wishes pour in for Jackson Mthembu after he tests positive for Covid-19

Minister in the presidency Jackson Mthembu has been inundated with support and well wishes after he tested positive for Covid-19.

Stephen Smuts tweeted: “We wish the minister, who has been at the forefront of the Covid-19 battle in SA, a speedy recovery. Our thoughts and prayers are with you, sir.” 

On Monday presidency spokesperson Phumla Williams said Mthembu was the fourth member of the executive to test positive for the coronavirus.

January 12 2021 - 13:06

'This is nothing less than criminal': Footage from KZN hospital sparks outcry on social media

A viral video of a woman screaming for help at Wentworth Hospital in Durban has sparked an outcry on social media.

In the video a woman can be heard screaming: “I can’t breathe! I am going to die like this!”

Other patients can be seen sleeping on floors and on chairs. No staff members are seen responding to or attending to the woman. It is unclear who filmed the video.

KwaZulu-Natal health MEC Nomagugu Simelane-Zulu confirmed there would be an investigation at the hospital, and condemned the filming and distribution of the video without official authorisation and the consent of the patients.

January 12 2021 - 13:03

Certain categories of people allowed to cross at border posts, despite closures

All 15 land borders that remained open will be closed until February 15, according to the new Disaster Management Act regulations promulgated on Monday.

This is one of the notable changes to the new regulations that were promulgated to curb the spread of Covid-19.

Most other restrictions that were published in the regulations on December 28, including the ban on the sale of liquor, the closure of beaches and closure of the remaining initiation schools, remain in place.

January 12 2021 - 12:48

Borrowed pump too damp to help restore water supply in Covid-19 hotspot

A pump borrowed from Umgeni Water to restore the water supply in Durban’s southern areas was too damp to operate.

DA eThekwini caucus leader Nicole Graham said the pump had been modified and fitted at Northdene but was not getting into the electrical range it needed to operate as it was damp.

“It is thought it might be damp as it has not been used for some time. It is being regularly heated to try and dry it and rechecked to see if it can be put on,” she said.

Graham said the eThekwini municipality was in the process of acquiring a pump from Mondi.

The most affected area, Chatsworth, which is also a Covid-19 hotspot, entered its fifth day without water on Tuesday after a pump at Northdene malfunctioned.

January 12 2021 - 12:43

Agri SA warns extended booze ban will fuel illegal sales

Agri SA has warned that the continued ban on alcohol is likely to fuel illegal sales and called for liquor to be made available online.

This follows President Cyril Ramaphosa's announcement on Monday night that the ban would be upheld during the extension of level 3 of the lockdown until February 15.

He also announced some changes to restrictions including the curfew, which will now be between 9pm and 5am.

Ramaphosa said during his address that the prohibition had eased the pressure on health-care workers battling to cope with the onslaught of Covid-19 cases.

January 12 2021 - 12:26

'We need Ramaphosa to answer questions': Politicians react to SA remaining on level 3 lockdown

Politicians have weighed in on President Cyril Ramaphosa's announcement that the country will remain on adjusted level 3 lockdown as the country continues to see an increase in Covid-19 cases.

Ramaphosa was addressing the nation on Monday after a spike in Covid-19 cases since January 1.

He described the Covid-19 pandemic as a “grave and persistent, deepening crisis” and called for the nation to unite against the challenge.

Ramaphosa announced that the nationwide curfew will still start at 9pm but now end at 5am.

The sale of alcohol from retail outlets and on-site consumption of alcohol is still not permitted. According to Ramaphosa, this is to ease pressure on the country's health-care system, particularly for trauma cases.

The country's 20 land borders will be closed until February 15, apart from some exceptions including the movement of cargo and fuel, urgent medical attention, or the return home of SA nationals.

Ramaphosa said the country had secured 20 million doses of the coronavirus vaccine, most of it to be delivered this year.

“While the actual level needed for herd immunity is not known, our scientists estimate that we will likely reach herd immunity once about 67% of our population are immune. This amounts to about 40 million people in SA.”

January 12 2021 - 11:45

We were wrong about when second wave would hit: Prof Salim Abdool Karim

Prof Salim Abdool Karim, the chairperson of the Covid-19 ministerial advisory committee, on Tuesday conceded that they were wrong about their predictions on the coronavirus peak.

Speaking on SAfm, Abdool Karim said they had predicted that the virus would start to see an increase around December 16 and this would be because of people travelling around the country for the festive season.

“We thought the second surge would be around January. Well, I was wrong,” said Abdool Karim, adding that the virus arrived six weeks earlier than anticipated.

The spread of the virus was also increased by superspreader events such as year-end celebrations attended by large groups of youths, instead of travellers as he thought would be the case.  

As the country awaits the rollout of vaccines from the end of January, Abdool Karim said it was still unclear whether these vaccines would be able to tackle the new variant of Covid-19. He said there was currently no conclusive evidence but testing was being conducted. The results of this would be available in two weeks.

January 12 2021 - 11:22

Eastern Cape health department to probe 'prescription' for animal drug Ivermectin, touted as cure for Covid-19 in humans

The Eastern Cape health department will investigate a prescription for Ivermectin, the controversial drug used in the treatment of animals but touted as a Covid-19 cure, which appears to have been signed at Tayler Bequest Hospital in Matatiele. It also carries the department’s stamp.

The medication has not been sanctioned by either the health department or the SA Health Products Regulatory Authority (Sahpra). 

Sahpra prohibited the drug for human consumption last month after it emerged on several social media platforms that it was being promoted as a cure for Covid-19.

January 12 2021 - 11:21

Education department mum on ‘glaring’ failures to provide safe start to 2021 academic year

Education unions and experts have warned that a lack of state-funded Covid-19 resources at schools will both exacerbate the pandemic and cause 2021 attendance and admissions to drop.

Mongameli Peter, who chairs the Eastern Cape chapter of the National Association of School Governing Bodies (NASGB), warned there was general anxiety and reluctance “to release children to go back to school”.

He said the start of the 2021 academic year would be a very different event compared to the past.

“It can be expected there won’t be the usual excitement and enthusiasm around going back to school.”

January 12 2021 -  11:02

Extended alcohol ban a slap in the face for brewers who may not survive

The extension of level 3 lockdown regulations, which prohibit the sale and distribution of alcohol, has been described as the death knell for many small craft brewers by the Beer Association of SA (Basa).   

The move, announced by President Cyril Ramaphosa on Monday night, was unfortunate for thousands of brewers who have suffered huge financial losses since the start of the first lockdown.

“It is a great shame that government has embarked on this action with very little consultation and very little thought given to their plight,” said Basa CEO Patricia Pillay.

The association said it rejected the extension of the alcohol ban as brewers would not be able to survive.  

“Already, 30% of local breweries have been forced to permanently shut their doors and 165,000 people have already lost their jobs. An extended ban on alcohol will destroy many of the remaining small businesses while doing untold economic damage to the beer sector in general, and the 415,000 livelihoods it supports.

January 12 2021 - 11:00

Senegal's hospitals stretched as Covid infections surge

Senegal is rushing to provide more hospital beds for coronavirus patients as infections soar and a lack of capacity means doctors are only able to admit the most severe cases, health officials said.

A second wave of new infections and deaths hit record highs this month, forcing President Macky Sall to reimpose a state of emergency that bans gatherings and enforces mask wearing.

Doctors hope that will buy authorities enough time to install new facilities and reopen health centres that were active during the first wave last year but were shuttered as cases dropped in the summer.

January 12 2021 - 09:36

'No alcohol? Hayiii I'm done with the family meeting': SA reacts to Ramaphosa's Covid-19 address

The ban on the sale of alcohol and concern about attending funerals continue to be the main talking points on social media after President Cyril Ramaphosa's address on Monday night.

In a much-anticipated address, Ramaphosa announced that SA would remain on level 3 lockdown. He also announced some changes to restrictions including the curfew, which will now be between 9pm and 5am. 

We’re staying on level 3 but funerals are becoming death traps. If you can — don’t go to funerals,” one Twitter user shared on the platform.

January 12 2021 - 09:13

'House Kolisi survived Covid-19': Rachel Kolisi grateful to have beaten coronavirus

Businesswoman and wife of Springbok captain Siya Kolisi, Rachel Kolisi, has shared an update on her family's Covid-19 battle, saying they all have survived the virus.

In an Instagram post, Rachel shared that her family was Covid-free after being in isolation for almost two weeks.

“Personally I’m still fatigued and dare I say a bit of a space head — struggling to focus. Also, smell and taste is still not 100%," she said.

January 12 2021 - 08:40

'Stay strong, be resourceful' - AKA says prayer for hospitality and entertainment workers

Musician and rapper AKA took to Twitter to send love and light to workers facing difficulties under the coronavirus lockdown.

The Fela In Versace hitmaker, who has recently gone into the hospitality business with the Durban-based club and restaurant Cuba BLK, has wished workers well through trying days of Covid-19.

In a heartfelt dedication, the rapper said he is praying that everything will be OK for those who work in the hospitality and entertainment industries.

January 12 2021 - 07:59

POLL | Does your workplace follow Covid-19 safety protocols?

As some South Africans returned to work on Monday after the festive season break, the implementation of Covid-19 safety measures was high on the list of priorities for workers and employers.

The department of employment and labour called on businesses to ensure safe working environments for employees by designating Covid-19 compliance officers.

January 12 2021 - 07:56

First lockdown not used to adequately prepare for Covid second wave, FF+ claims

The opportunity created by the initial lockdown period was not adequately used to prepare the health-care system for the second wave of infections, the  Freedom Front Plus said on Monday.

Speaking after President Cyril Ramaphosa indicated that SA will remain on lockdown level three in the midst of a sharp rise in new Covid-19 cases, the party said this proved that the government had overreacted last year when it implemented draconian measures that had caused needless damage to the economy.

“The opportunity created by the initial lockdown period was not adequately used to prepare the health-care system for the second wave of infections.

“The field hospitals that were erected were taken down again while knowing full well that a second wave was on its way,” the party said.

January 12 2021 - 07:29

'The government has dropped the ball on the acquisition of vaccines': DA 

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