COVID-19 WRAP | SA records 806 new Covid-19 related deaths in 24 hours

Statistics from January 1 to date have been alarming, says minister Motsoaledi

13 January 2021 - 06:26
By TimesLIVE
Health workers attend to patients in tents in a parking lot at the Steve Biko Academic Hospital in Pretoria amid a nationwide Covid-19 lockdown in South Africa on January 11 2021. REUTERS/Siphiwe Sibeko
Image: SIPHIWE SIBEKO Health workers attend to patients in tents in a parking lot at the Steve Biko Academic Hospital in Pretoria amid a nationwide Covid-19 lockdown in South Africa on January 11 2021. REUTERS/Siphiwe Sibeko

January 13 2021 - 22:25

Highest daily Covid-19 death toll in SA as 806 people die in 24 hours

SA recorded 806 new Covid-19 related deaths in the past 24 hours, the most single-day deaths so far.

The previous high was 755 deaths, recorded a day earlier, on January 12. This means that 1,561 people died from the virus in the past two days alone. The new deaths mean that 35,140 Covid-19 related fatalities have been recorded since the outbreak of the coronavirus.

Of the new deaths, 235 were in KwaZulu-Natal, 211 in Gauteng, 151 were in the Western Cape, 150 were in the Eastern Cape, 24 in the Free State, 14 in both Mpumalanga and Limpopo and seven in the Northern Cape.

January 13 2021 - 21:54

J&J Covid-19 vaccine could be available in Europe in April -source

Johnson & Johnson could deliver the first doses of its Covid-19 vaccine to Europe in April, an EU official told Reuters on Wednesday after a top lawmaker said the U.S. healthcare company was likely to seek EU regulatory approval in February.

Clinical data on the vaccine has been assessed by the European Medicines Agency (EMA) since December 1 under a rolling review to speed up possible approval.

A senior EU official, who is involved in negotiations with vaccine makers and spoke on condition of anonymity, said the J&J shot could be available from April 1 in Europe.


January 13 2021 - 20:09

Bumpy road ahead for global Covid-19 vaccine rollout, experts say

Governments worldwide face a tremendous challenge in building up the logistics needed for mass vaccination against Covid-19 and providing clear messaging to their citizens to boost confidence in the shots, public health experts said on Wednesday.

Speaking at the Reuters Next conference, experts speaking from the United States, India and the UK said they were hopeful the world will turn a corner against the Covid-19 pandemic in 2021 - as long as authorities focus on getting vaccines into arms and persuading pandemic-weary populations to adhere to social distancing measures in the meantime.

"There was a lot of victory dancing and celebrating that we were bringing forward these great vaccines, but where we've fallen short is we've not paid attention to the operational discipline and competency needed to design and implement a vaccination program," said Michelle Williams, dean of the faculty at Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health in the United States.


January 13 2021 - 18:34

Formal complaint lodged against chief justice for his 'devil vaccines' prayer

Health advocacy organisation African Alliance has filed a formal complaint with the Judicial Services Commission against chief justice Mogoeng Mogoeng.

This follows utterances he made regarding vaccines while delivering a public prayer at Tembisa Hospital in December last year.

During the prayer, Mogoeng touched on issues raised in anti-vaxx circles.

Praying to God, he said: “I lock out any vaccine that is not of you. If there be any vaccine that is of the devil, meant to infuse 666 in the lives of people, meant to corrupt their DNA ... Any such vaccine, Lord God almighty, may it be destroyed by fire, in the name of Jesus.”

January 13 2021 - 16:47

Eastern Cape concerned about Covid-19 vaccine rollout in far-flung areas

The Eastern Cape government has expressed concern that it may encounter problems with vaccination distribution to far-flung areas of the province.

Acting head of the provincial health department Dr Sibongile Zungu said they were considering using schools as vaccination sites because a large proportion of the province's population cannot access health-care facilities within a 5km radius of where they live.

Zungu told parliament's health portfolio committee on Wednesday that of the 24,494 communities in SA, the inhabitants of 6,328 of them had to travel more than 5km to reach a health-care facility to be vaccinated. She said 2,873, or 45%, of these communities were in the Eastern Cape.

January 13 2021 - 16:31

Covid-19 carnage continues as deaths set new record for second successive week

The first week of 2021 produced an all-time record number of deaths in SA, the Medical Research Council (MRC) said on Wednesday.

The new record of 20,063 deaths from all causes smashed the previous week's total of 16,532 — itself a record — by 21.3%, according to the MRC weekly report on excess deaths.

These are deaths in excess of the number predicted based on trends over the past two years.

January 13 2021 - 15:06

Cuban doctors instrumental in KZN's Covid-19 fight, says health MEC

Cuban health experts based at  KwaZulu-Natal's Covid-19 facilities have been instrumental in the fight against the pandemic in the province, health MEC Nomagugu Simelane-Zulu said.

Speaking during a health department webinar on Wednesday, Simelane-Zulu said the province had a shortage of epidemiologists and the Cubans were able to fill a gap. The department invited experts in the field of virology to engage with the public to answer burning questions about vaccines, vaccinations and immunity during the virtual engagement.

Epidemiology is a branch of medical science where experts search for the cause of disease, identify people who are at risk, determine how to control or stop the spread or prevent it from happening again, a skill that is crucial in dealing with a novel virus like Covid-19.

January 13 2021 - 14:18

SA’s steep upward trajectory in second wave ‘very worrying’ — Prof Schoub

SA virologist Prof Barry Schoub has warned that the country is well into its second wave and that the steep upward trajectory is “very worrying”.

In an interview on the BBC World News' current affairs programme HARDtalk with Stephen Sackur, Schoub, the chairperson of the ministerial advisory committee (MAC) on Covid-19 vaccines, described the Covid-19 picture in SA as bleak.

“It is bleak; we are well into our second wave which is manifesting quite a bit more seriously than our first wave.

January 13 2021 - 14:03

You can repossess cars but not homes during Covid, watchdog tells UK banks

British banks should avoid repossessing homes of mortgage customers for another three months but may repossess cars after the reimposition of tough lockdown restrictions across the UK, the Financial Conduct Authority proposed on Wednesday.

The FCA's no forced repossession guidance, introduced after the first lockdown in March last year, had been due to expire at the end of January.

The aim of the guidance is to ease pressure on customers who are in difficulties due to a pandemic that tipped Britain into its worst recession in 300 years.

January 13 2021 - 12:01

Mom who had Covid-19 reunited with baby after thinking her son had died

A Cape Town mother who spent her festive season heartbroken and in despair after she thought her premature baby boy had died in hospital has been reunited with her son, who is alive and well.

Nosipho Nkantini from Eerste River in the Western Cape was overwhelmed to finally meet her baby after her pregnancy journey took a dramatic turn when she contracted Covid-19.

Nkantini, who works as a nurse in the public sector, developed Covid-19 symptoms halfway through her pregnancy in early December.

January 13 2021 - 11:48

53% of adults want schools closed until Covid-19 situation improves - survey

As  the country intensifies its fight against Covid-19, a survey conducted by the University of Johannesburg (UJ) has revealed that the majority of people are against the reopening of schools on January 25.

The online survey was conducted between December 30 2020 and January 6 2021 among 10,618 adult participants broadly representative of SA's population in terms of race, education and age.  

Fifty-three percent of the participants believed schools should remain closed until the Covid-19 situation improves. Nineteen percent of adults said schools should reopen for grade 7 and grade 12 pupils only, while 19% of adults said schools should reopen for all grades and 9% said they “don’t know”. 

January 13 2021 - 10:57

Durban private hospital accused of dispensing Ivermectin is under police investigation

A private hospital in Durban is under police investigation after allegations the outlawed drug Ivermectin was dispensed at the facility.

Police and the SA Health Products Regulatory Authority (Sahpra) raided the Ahmed Al-Kadi Hospital after receiving a tip-off last Thursday.

After the raid, the hospital denied in a statement that Ivermectin was found at the facility and said the matter was being handled by its legal team.

January 13 2021 - 09:50

Home affairs will offer limited services during level 3 - here's what you need to know

Home affairs minister Aaron Motsoaledi announced on Tuesday that the department will offer limited services to the public for the duration of lockdown level 3.

He was speaking during a media briefing by the national coronavirus command council (NCCC) on the newly amended regulations.

The briefing comes after President Cyril Ramaphosa announced on Monday that SA would remain on alert level 3 with some changes to the restrictions, including the closure of land borders and the curfew in place from 9pm to 5am.

January 13 2021 - 08:44

Covid-19 peaks could overwhelm capabilities of health facilities: expert

The problem facing SA is preventing a surge in the number of Covid-19 infections which could overwhelm hospitals in Gauteng, a health and social security systems specialist has warned.

Speaking to SAFM on Wednesday, Prof Alex van den Heever of the Wits School of Governance said the number of Covid-19 infections in the second wave is higher than during the first surge last year.

“Our problem is preventing the peaks we are seeing. The peaks are higher than they were in the first surge.

January 13 2021 - 07:41

SA's booze industry seeks tax relief after new sales ban

SA’s alcohol industry, reeling under a renewed liquor sales and distribution ban since the end of December, on Tuesday called for a deferment of excise duty to stave off a wave of business closures and job losses.

President Cyril Ramaphosa extended an existing countrywide ban on alcohol sales and distribution on Monday, saying it has helped to reduce trauma cases in hospitals and keep staff and facilities available for Covid-19 patients.

January 13 2021 - 07:00

The DA wants another round of UIF Ters payments for businesses as SA remains on alert level 3

The DA has called for the return of UIF Ters payments for the duration of the alert level 3 lockdown, saying the fund will provide assistance to businesses whose operations continue to be affected by the Covid-19 pandemic.

This after president Cyril Ramaphosa announced on Monday that SA would remain on level 3 to mitigate the spread of Covid-19. The liquor industry is among the hardest hit as the ban of sales of alcohol remain intact. This, said the president, will help ensure that there are no trauma cases in hospitals and will ease the pressure on the health system.

January 13 2021 - 06:00

On just two days last week, home affairs registered 10,852 deaths: Motsoaledi

"We believe it is going to get worse," says home affairs minister as department is inundated with applications for death certificates