COVID-19 WRAP | SA records 615 Covid-19 deaths in 24 hours

15 January 2021 - 06:33 By TimesLIVE
A traveller is tested for the coronavirus disease amid a nationwide Covid-19 lockdown, at the Grasmere Toll Plaza, in Lenasia, South Africa, January 14, 2021.
A traveller is tested for the coronavirus disease amid a nationwide Covid-19 lockdown, at the Grasmere Toll Plaza, in Lenasia, South Africa, January 14, 2021.
Image: REUTERS/Siphiwe Sibeko

January 15 2021 - 20:11

SA records 615 Covid-19 deaths, just less than 15,000 new cases in 24 hours

SA recorded 14,880 new Covid-19 related cases in the past 24 hours, health minister Dr Zweli Mkhize said on Friday night.

In the same period, 615 more Covid-19 related deaths were recorded.

The new infections mean that there have now been 1,311,686 total cases across SA since the outbreak of the virus. The new infections came from 65,209 tests, at a positivity rate of 22.8%.

January 15 2021 - 18:23

UK records 55,761 new cases of Covid-19, 3.2 million people now vaccinated

Britain recorded 55,761 new cases of Covid-19 on Friday, an increase on the 48,682 cases recorded the previous day, with the number of people receiving a first dose of the vaccination rising to 3.2 million, according to government data.

The reported number of deaths within 28 days of a positive test from Covid-19 was 1,280, slightly higher than the 1,248 recorded the previous day.

—Reuters

January 15 2021 - 17:01

Destruction of 5G towers is criminal, warns KZN premier

KwaZulu-Natal premier Sihle Zikalala has warned that the destruction of 5G towers will be treated as an act of criminality.

Zikalala addressed the media at eThekwini Primary School in KwaMashu on Friday as he conducted inspections of telecommunication infrastructure damaged in some areas of Durban recently.

“We should all be united against Covid-19, and such things detract us from the main focus now — which is to deal with Covid-19.

January 15 2021 - 16:53

'The money will be there' — Ramaphosa promises Treasury will have the cash for Covid-19 vaccine

President Cyril Ramaphosa on Friday allayed the fears of many South Africans, saying the Treasury would have the money to fund the much-anticipated Covid-19 vaccine.

“There is no way we can say, when it comes to saving the lives of South Africans, that we don’t have the money. The money will be there. It has to be there to save the lives of South Africans. That one will be my bottom line,” said Ramaphosa.

The president made the comment during a media engagement at the ANC’s Luthuli House headquarters in central Johannesburg on Friday.

January 15 2021 - 15:48

South Africans called to action as People’s Vaccine Campaign is launched

A campaign launched by emerging civil society group the C19 People’s Coalition is calling for the support of South Africans to ensure that access to and allocation of the Covid-19 vaccine is free and fair.

In a statement on Friday, the organisation announced it had launched the People’s Vaccine Campaignwhich seeks to mobilise South Africans to help ensure equitable vaccine access and allocation.

“There is a danger that elites, powerful or dominant medical schemes, private health-care providers and other corporate interests will undermine access through growing disparities in our two-tiered health-care system and exclude the voices of workers who belong to state medical schemes, all health workers, front-line workers, working-class communities and civil society.”

January 15 2021 - 15:36

'People are sick. Our children must stay at home': Parents and pupils react to delayed opening of schools

Parents and pupils have voiced their concerns about the basic education department’s decision to delay the reopening of schools due to the spread of Covid-19 infections across SA.

Matric pupils who haven’t started their final year said this would put more pressure on them when schools do reopen.

Deputy basic education minister Makgabo Reginah Mhaule announced on Friday that the reopening of schools would be pushed back by two weeks.

January 15 2021 - 15:00

Unions give deadline for management teams to return to school a 'fail' mark

Teacher unions are outraged by the department of basic education’s decision to get school management teams (SMTs) and teachers to return to school weeks before pupils arrive.

On Friday, deputy basic education minister Makgabo Reginah Mhaule announced that schools, which were scheduled to reopen on January 27, will reopen on February 15 because of the increase in Covid-19 infections.

She said school management teams (SMTs) will have to report for duty on January 25 and teachers on February 1.

January 15 2021 - 14:18

POLL | Will you send your child to school on February 15?

It remains to be seen whether parents will send their children back to school on February 15, the new reopening date announced by basic education department officials on Friday.

Department officials said the cabinet had decided to postpone reopening schools by two weeks as the country’s Covid-19 cases continue to rise.

Deputy basic education minister Makgabo Reginah Mhaule said: “Given the pressure experienced by the health system in the past few weeks, occasioned by increased Covid-19 infections which have led to the second wave, the council of education ministers (CEM) in conjunction with the national coronavirus command council and cabinet have taken the decision to delay the reopening of both public and private schools by two weeks.”

January 15 2021 - 14:18

Raymond Zondo to self isolate after being in contact with colleague who contracted virus

The state capture inquiry on Friday adjourned earlier than planned after a staff member working closely with chairperson deputy chief justice Raymond Zondo tested positive for Covid-19.

This was announced by Zondo after the inquiry returned from the lunch hour following explosive testimony by former Eskom CEO Brian Molefe.

Zondo said he will go into self-isolation and would consider the possibility of virtual sessions while he is in isolation.

January 15 2021 - 13:58

'Is it safe to chow the back-to-school money now?' - SA finds the funny side of school reopening delay

Twitter is flooded with hilarious reactions after the announcement by the basic education department on Friday that the reopening of schools was delayed by two weeks.

Tom and Jerry and Mr Bean seasons extended till 15 February,” one Twitter user shared, while others joked that 2021 already feels like a repeat of 2020.

Deputy basic education minister Dr Makgabo Reginah Mhaule told a media briefing the decision was influenced by an increase in Covid-19 infections.

January 15 2021 - 13:33

Crime-fighting operations continue and police 'not always on beaches'

Thepolice have not been patrolling beaches all the time, looking for lockdown regulation transgressors - but crime-fighting initiatives conducted by 190,000 police men and women remained in place.

Speaking on SABC TV's Morning Live on Friday, police minister Bheki Cele's spokesperson Lirandzu Themba denied an accusation that police resources were being misspent on monitoring people on the country's beaches.

Beaches have been closed since December as part of new lockdown rules.

January 15 2021 - 13:11

This dad’s response to Covid-19 conspiracy theories in a WhatsApp group chat is everything

One Twitter user’s father had a whole family WhatsApp group shaking recently when he launched into a rant against “anti-vaccine propaganda” being spread on the platform.

User iDeserveABells shared a series of tweets on Thursday explaining how his family group had been hit with several messages, videos and articles warning against the Covid-19 vaccine.

His father, gatvol of all the messages, decided to leave the group - but not before he let everyone know exactly what he thought of their theories.

January 15 2021 - 12:05

SA will lose war against Covid-19 if people entertain 'baseless' vaccine conspiracies, says Malema

EFF leader Julius Malema on Thursday warned South Africans against believing baseless theories about the Covid-19 vaccines.

This as SA has secured 20 million doses of the vaccine which will be delivered during the first half of the year.

Malema was addressing a media briefing when he lashed out at vaccine fear-mongers and conspiracy theorists for threatening SA’s progress in its fight against the pandemic. For this, he partly blamed SA’s decision to procure the vaccine rather than manufacture its own.

January 15 2021 - 12:02

France toughens Covid-19 testing rules for non-EU travellers

France has announced that people travelling from non-EU countries will no longer be able to get into the country by presenting a negative result from a quick, readily-available Covid-19 test.

The new rules, which come into force from Jan. 18 and are set out in a French government document, say people will no longer be able to use antigen, or lateral flow, tests that can deliver results within minutes.

Those quicker tests have been heavily used by truck drivers transporting goods across the Channel between Britain and France.

January 15 2021 - 12:00

Hospitals in Brazil's Amazonas short of oxygen, UK bans Brazilian arrivals

Hospitals in Brazil's northern state of Amazonas ran short of oxygen and made an urgent call for help from the US on Thursday, as Britain slapped a ban on new arrivals from Brazil over fears of a new home-grown coronavirus variant.

Researchers said the new variant could be contributing to the sharp rise in cases in Amazonas state, though they were conducting more studies to ascertain if it is more contagious than earlier versions of the coronavirus.

Amazonas, where nearly 6,000 people have died from Covid-19, is now suffering a devastating second wave that is pushing emergency services to breaking point.

January 15 2021 - 11:44

Urgent action plan needed at SA’s ports of entry: home affairs committee

The portfolio committee on home affairs has called for an urgent action plan from stakeholder departments at ports of entry in the country, aimed at ensuring adherence to health protocols intended to curb the transmission of Covid-19.

The committee said the state of affairs at border entry posts between SA and Mozambique undermined President Cyril Ramaphosa’s call to close borders to reduce congestion and the high risk of transmissions, with people only allowed to cross in “limited circumstances”.  

“Members of the committee were unanimous in their criticism of the operation within the border post, more especially because the authorities are processing a limited number of people as a result of closed borders,” committee chairperson Bongani Bongo said.

January 15 2021 - 11:13

Prayers for Covid-19 patients outside Rondebosch hospital in Cape Town

January 15 2021 - 11:09

WATCH | Snowy superspreader: Hundreds break lockdown rules to join massive snowball fight in the UK

About 200 people broke UK lockdown rules this week to take part in a massive snowball fight at a park in Leeds, as the country battles a vicious wave of the coronavirus that has left some hospitals with no beds to treat patients.

According to the BBC, a large crowd took part or looked on as snowballs were thrown in Leeds' Hyde Park on Thursday afternoon, in clear violation of lockdown rules to only meet with those in your household or support bubble.

A video of “the battle of Hyde Park” was shared on social media and showed two groups of people charging and throwing snowballs at each other.

January 15 2021 - 11:07

Chances slim that private schools can reopen earlier than public schools

It appears unlikely private schools will be allowed to open earlier than public schools, as was the case last year.

On Friday, deputy basic education minister Reginah Mhaule  said schools that were scheduled to reopen on January 27 will open on February 15.

Mhaule said: “We are one country and even if you are an independent school, you are a school.

January 15 2021 - 11:06

No need to panic, the vaccines are on the way - Mkhize

South Africans will have to continue applying Covid-19 preventive measures even after the targeted 67% of the population has been vaccinated, said health minister Dr Zweli Mkhize.

In an exclusive interview with TimesLIVE, Mkhize said: “While we are targeting 67% for herd immunity, it could happen that we are in the middle of another wave when we achieve that and many people will still be at risk, so we will have to continue with containment until it's safe.

“The use of masks, sanitising and social distancing cannot stop because we are vaccinating or have fully vaccinated,” Mkhize explained. 

January 15 2021 - 10:50

'These are early signs of dictatorship': Simphiwe Dana concerned about 'authoritarian tone' of SA leaders

Outspoken musician Simphiwe Dana has shared her concern that SA leaders are taking an "'authoritarian tone” with the nation, warning that it may be the early signs of a dictatorship.

Simphiwe, like many of us, has been watching politicians speak over the last few weeks on the Covid-19 pandemic and lockdown restrictions.

After Julius Malema's fiery address to the nation on Thursday, Simphiwe took to Twitter to share her worry that leaders are becoming more and more authoritarian.

January 15 2021 - 10:45

WATCH | ‘You treat us like dogs’: Fuming disability grant beneficiaries sleep outside Cape Town Sassa office

More than 100 temporary disability grant beneficiaries have been sleeping outside the SA Social Security Agency (Sassa) office in Bellville, Cape Town since Monday.

January 15 2021 - 09:35

WATCH | Social media in stitches as Malema calls for suspension of 'mjolo' because of Covid-19

EFF leader Julius Malema left South Africans in stitches on Thursday when he called for the suspension of “mjolo” until the Covid-19 storm is over.

The firebrand leader was addressing a media briefing on the government's response to coronavirus pandemic.

SA has been on level 3 lockdown since December 28, with some of the restrictions including the ban of sales of alcohol, shutting down of beaches in all hotspot areas and the closure of 20 land borders until February 15. It turns out, the National Coronavirus Command Council (NCCC) left out one more: mjolo.

January 15 2021 - 09:23

Wandi 'DJ 1D' Nzimande’s family confirm he died of Covid complications

As Mzansi continues to mourn the loss of Kaya FM's much loved Mzwandile “DJ 1D”  Nzimande, his family have confirmed that the DJ died after testing positive for Covid-19.

DJ 1D died on January 13 at the Olivedale Clinic in Johannesburg, aged 44. 

Social media and mainstream media platforms have been flooded with condolences from fans, friends and industry mates, as they sang praises of the man most described as humble.

January 15 2021 - 09:16

Basic education department resolves to reopen schools on February 15

The basic education department on Friday confirmed that the reopening of schools has been postponed to February 15.

“Given the pressure experienced by the health system in the past few weeks, occasioned by increased Covid-19 infections which has led to the second wave, the Council of Education Ministers in conjunction with the National Coronavirus Command Council and cabinet, has taken the decision to delay the reopening of both public and private schools with two weeks,” deputy basic minister Reginah Mhaule told a media briefing.

“This includes private schools that have reopened already. They will need to postpone their reopening to a later date. This is done to provide relief to the health system which is already struggling to cope with the current demands.”

January 15 2021 - 09:03

RECORDED | Are schools opening soon? Minister Angie Motshekga has the answers

January 15 2021 - 08:27

India to treat home-grown Covid-19 vaccine same as AstraZeneca's

India will treat a domestic Covid-19 vaccine “equally” with a prominent global one, even though the home-grown drug's efficacy has not been proven, and people will have no choice which one they get, a top government vaccine official told Reuters.

The government on Saturday will launch one of the world's biggest vaccination programmes with shots manufactured in India — one developed by Oxford University and AstraZeneca Plc, the other by Bharat Biotech International Ltd with a state-run institute.

Administering Bharat Biotech's COVAXIN, a move cheered by nationalist politicians, has worried some health experts who consider it rushed, as the vaccine has only limited, “clinical-trial mode” approval. In addition to efficacy concerns, the close monitoring required for its use will be a huge challenge in a country of 1.35 billion people.

January 15 2021 - 08:25

Japan's Hiroshima to conduct large-scale PCR tests to battle Covid-19

Japan's Hiroshima prefecture said on Friday it will carry out large-scale polymerase chain reaction (PCR) testing to curb the spread of coronavirus, a rarity in a nation that lags far behind many other countries in the number of tests conducted.

The western Japan prefecture aims to conduct PCR tests for 800,000 people in the city of Hiroshima, which has a population of 1.2 million.

The 800,000 comprises residents in the city's four wards hardest hit by the virus and workers who commute into the area.

January 15 2021 - 08:11

KZN, Limpopo health urged to get other oxygen suppliers as Covid-19 cases rise

Parliament's portfolio committee on health has expressed concern at the insufficient oxygen supply for Covid-19 patients in hospitals in KwaZulu-Natal and Limpopo.

The problem with oxygen supply emerged during a briefing to the committee by the KwaZulu-Natal and the Limpopo departments of health on the status of health care services in relation to Covid-19.

KwaZulu-Natal health MEC Nomagugu Simelane-Zulu told the committee on Thursday that funerals have become Covid-19 super-spreaders, as people were not observing health protocols during these events.

She said Afrox, the company that supplies all the provinces with oxygen, has been struggling to keep up with demand.

January 15 2021 - 07:39

US Supreme Court allows execution of condemned men with Covid-19

The US Supreme Court rejected on Thursday night a lower court's ruling that the final two scheduled federal executions of President Donald Trump's administration be delayed to allow the condemned men to recover from Covid-19.

The ruling from the court's conservative majority meant Corey Johnson, a convicted murderer, is set to be strapped to a gurney in the US Department of Justice's execution chamber in Terre Haute, Indiana, a short time later on Thursday night to be injected with lethal doses of pentobarbital.

The Justice Department has scheduled the execution of Dustin Higgs, convicted in a separate murder, for Friday evening. His lawyers are also challenging his execution on other legal grounds besides his Covid-19 diagnosis, but the Supreme Court has so far allowed all executions to proceed since Trump resumed the practice last year after a 17-hiatus.

January 15 2021 - 06:46

Medical oxygen shortage in Zimbabwe as Covid-19 cases surge

Covid-19 patients in need of oxygen in Zimbabwe are in a dire situation as the country’s hospitals run critically short of medical oxygen.

Many people in need have taken to social medical looking to buy oxygen cylinders.

Private medical suppliers are selling oxygen concentrators for between USD$2,000 (about R30,300) and USD $3,700 (about R56,000) — a price which is beyond the reach of many in Zimbabwe.

January 15 2021 - 06:46

Thailand reports 188 new coronavirus cases, no new deaths

Thailand reported 188 new coronavirus cases on Friday, taking its total infections to 11,450.There were no new deaths reported and 34 of the new cases were imported from abroad or found in quarantine, the country's Covid-19 taskforce said at a briefing. Thailand has recorded 69 coronavirus-related deaths since a year ago.

Reuters

January 15 2021 - 06:00

Gautengers! Put yourselves on voluntary level 5 lockdown, urge experts

Health experts have called on Gauteng residents to put themselves voluntarily into lockdown level five, warning that the peak of the second wave was still to come.

Experts also called on government to introduce online learning until there’s a clear downward trend beyond the peak.

UKZN’s Prof Mosa Moshabela said: “To reduce infections, I think people who can, should just stay home and work from home. Just take yourself into level five lockdown.”

January 15 2021 - 06:00

Don’t fail SA’s kids again, reopen schools, say top profs

An eminent professor of economics at Stellenbosch University has urged the department of basic education to reopen schools as soon as possible, in the interests of pupils.

Servaas van der Berg said “being out of school is bad for children mentally, psychologically and socially, and undermines their long-term academic and economic prospects”.

January 15 2021 - 06:00

What does the agency tell the tens of thousands affected by grant backlog? The ‘inconvenience’ is ‘acknowledged’

Greenwood is one of hundreds of temporary disability and care-dependency grant applicants waiting outside the Bellville office of the SA Social Security Agency (Sassa), exposed to scorching heat by day and the dangers of the streets at night. The situation is similar at other Sassa branches in Cape Town.

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