COVID-19 WRAP | SA records 12,710 new Covid-19 cases

20 January 2021 - 06:22 By TimesLIVE
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On wearing face masks - The aim is to provide a physical barrier that prevents the spread of virus-laden droplets.
On wearing face masks - The aim is to provide a physical barrier that prevents the spread of virus-laden droplets.
Image: 123RF/Oksana Smyshliaeva

January 20 2021 - 22:28

SA records 12,710 new Covid-19 cases and 566 deaths in 24 hours

SA recorded 12,710 new Covid-19 cases in the past 24 hours, after two consecutive days of fewer than 10,000 new infections.

Health minister Dr Zweli Mkhize said on Wednesday night that the new infections meant that 1,369,426 cumulative cases have now been recorded countrywide since the outbreak of the coronavirus in March last year.

The new infections came from 62,054 tests, at a positivity rate of 20.45%. This is lower than the 22.6% positivity rate recorded on Monday (9,010 cases from 39,901 tests) and the 20.96% positivity rate from Tuesday (9,780 cases from 46,648 tests).

January 20 2021 - 22:02

Social media hype over unproven Ivermectin is irresponsible — experts

South Africans might be desperate to stop Covid-19 in its tracks, but this does not mean scientific rigour will be forfeited.

This is the clear message from some of the country’s top vaccinologists, scientists and infectious diseases experts who have warned against the “irresponsible social media hype around the use of Ivermectin” to treat Covid-19 until such time as it is officially approved for use in humans in the country.

Ivermectin is an anti-parasitic medicine that is being studied across the globe as a possible agent against Covid-19, and in SA is currently registered for veterinary use only, with a few exceptions of external use on humans.

January 20 2021 - 20:36

Private schools can open even if public schools don't, says deputy minister

Private and independent schools were well within their rights to resume their academic year, even while public schools have pushed back their reopening by two weeks because of the Covid-19 pandemic.

This is according to education deputy minister Makgabo Reginah Mhaule, speaking to parliament on Wednesday.

Protesting against this did not help anyone, she said, because the department’s policies — as well as the country’s constitution — allowed private schools to operate independently from public schools.

January 20 2021 - 19:17

Joe Biden to hit reset on nation's fight against Covid-19 on his first day as president

President Joe Biden on Wednesday will immediately reset the nation's response to the Covid-19 crisis when he heads to the Oval Office after being sworn in to lead a country reeling from its worst public health crisis in more than a century.

As part of a first sweep of executive actions, Biden will order that all federal employees wear masks and make face coverings mandatory on federal property.

He will establish a new White House office to coordinate the coronavirus response and halt the withdrawal of the US from WHO, a process initiated by the outgoing president, Donald Trump.


January 20 2021 - 18:05

WHO plans slew of Covid-19 vaccine approvals for global rollout - document

The World Health Organization (WHO) plans to approve several Covid-19 vaccines from Western and Chinese manufacturers in the coming weeks and months, an internal document seen by Reuters shows, as it aims for rapid rollouts in poorer countries.

Covax, a global scheme co-led by the WHO, wants to deliver at least 2 billion Covid-19 doses across the world this year, with at least 1.3 billion going to poorer countries.

But it has so far struggled to secure enough shots due to a shortage of funds, while wealthy nations have booked large volumes of vaccines for themselves


January 20 2021 - 17:13

Kenya reports two cases of new coronavirus variant first seen in SA

Kenya has identified two cases of the new coronavirus variant first seen in South Africa in two men who have since left the country, a senior health ministry official said on Wednesday.

Patrick Amoth, acting director general of health at the Ministry of Health, did not say where the infected men were tested or if they had been notified.

"This was picked (up) because of our heightened surveillance system. These two gentlemen have since gone back to their country. At the point of picking them, they were all asymptomatic," he told a news conference. 


January 20 2021 - 15:50

China's capital steps up Covid-19 measures as outbreak persists

China's capital Beijing said it will investigate all individuals who entered the city from abroad from December 10 and it shut down a subway station after reporting the biggest daily jump in new Covid-19 cases in more than three weeks.

The measures come amid what has become China's most serious coronavirus outbreak since March 2020 ahead of Lunar New Year holiday season, when hundreds of millions of people travel, raising fears of another major Covid-19 wave that could bring the country back into a debilitating standstill.

The National Health Commission said on Wednesday a total of 103 new Covid-19 cases were reported on January 19, down from 118 a day earlier.


January 20 2021 - 14:15

Allow alcohol sales 4 days a week from outlets, use curfew for on-site sales, urges Winde

Western Cape premier Alan Winde is offering suggestions how to allow a controlled reopening of the economy under Covid-19 regulations, including a limited resumption of the sale of alcohol.

Winde has previously come under fire from the opposition ANC in the Western Cape for his comments that the alcohol ban and revised level 3 lockdown should not last for long.

He told the provincial legislature about his concerns for businesses and that he had held discussions with health minister Zweli Mkhize specifically about the impact on wine farms in his province.

January 20 2021 - 14:04

Covid-19 shots to cost $3 to $10 under AU vaccine plan

African countries will pay between $3 (R45) and $10 (R150) per vaccine dose to access 270 million Covid-19 shots secured this month by the African Union (AU), according to a draft briefing on the plan prepared by the African Export-Import Bank (Afreximbank) and provided to Reuters.

South African President Cyril Ramaphosa, who serves as AU chair, said last week arrangements had been made with the bank to support member states who want access to vaccines. Countries can pay back the loans in instalments over five to seven years, the document showed.

Afreximbank's press office declined to answer questions on the terms outlined in the briefing, saying the document was in draft form and meant for confidential discussion by members of a team created by Ramaphosa to secure vaccines and financing for the continent's coronavirus immunisation programmes. The AU team also declined to comment.

January 20 2021 - 13:30

Medaids ponder how to price vaccines so non-members get them too

Schemes under pressure to vaccinate as many people as possible while ensuring there is enough money to buy doses

After what it calls a “considered approach” by the Ministerial Advisory Committee (MAC) on Covid-19 vaccines, the Council for Medical Schemes (CMS) ruled that funding for the vaccine must be a prescribed minimum benefit for medical scheme members.

The ruling was formally published in an amendment to the Medical Schemes Act PMB legislation and signed by the health minister on January 4.

January 20 2021 - 11:30

High-dosage blood thinners may harm critically ill Covid-19 patients, health department warns

The health department on Tuesday issued a warning against the treatment of critically ill Covid-19 patients using high-dosage blood thinners.

The department cited evidence from a large randomised controlled clinical trial which was a collaborative effort between three international groups. It revealed that high-dose, compared to low-dose blood thinners, did not help critically ill ICU patients.

The clinical trial design is strong and the National Essential Medicines List subcommittee on Covid-19 recommends against the use of high-dose blood thinners in critically ill patients with Covid-19.

January 20 2021 - 10:25

'Unbothered' and 'clueless': SA reacts to David Mabuza overseeing Covid-19 vaccine rollout

Politicians and citizens have weighed in on the news that Deputy President David Mabuza will oversee Covid-19 vaccine procurement and distribution in SA.

On Tuesday, TimesLIVE reported President Cyril Ramaphosa announced that Mabuza will be spearheading the government’s inter-ministerial team tasked with the vaccine rollout.

Ramaphosa made the announcement during a webinar organised by the ANC’s Progressive Business Forum on Tuesday.

January 20 2021 - 09:54

Covid-19 vaccine shots add to confusion over China's tests for travellers

A coronavirus antibody test that China has made mandatory for arriving travellers has provoked concerns over its effectiveness after one of a team of international health experts was briefly denied entry last week after a positive result.

Though the British expert from the World Health Organisation (WHO) subsequently tested negative, it was not immediately clear if the earlier result was a false positive, or the result of previous infection or a Covid-19 vaccination.

Here are details of China's testing rules, potential problems with the policy, its implications for vaccinated individuals and experts' views.

January 20 2021 - 09:52

'Seems we're not getting our jobs back any time soon': Mzansi reacts to Mkhize praising booze ban

Health minister Zweli Mkhize’s latest take on the ban on the sales and distribution of alcohol has again spraked debate online.

Speaking during his visit to health-care centres in KwaZulu-Natal this week, Mkhize said the ban has assisted in reducing alcohol-related trauma cases in hospitals.

​He said relief came from the suspension of alcohol sales because most trauma cases are linked to irresponsible drinking and behaviour.

January 20 2021 - 09:40

UK still in Covid-19 peril so too early to talk about lifting lockdown, minister says

The Covid-19 death toll and the level of hospital admissions means it is far too early to speculate about when the lockdown may be lifted or eased, one of Prime Minister Boris Johnson's senior ministers said on Wednesday.

"We are still in a perilous situation," Home Secretary Priti Patel told Sky.

January 20 2021 - 08:30

Taiwan cancels more events as local Covid-19 cases rise

Taiwan has cancelled or postponed more large-scale events after a rare outbreak of domestically transmitted Covid-19 cases connected to a hospital, where the military has been sent to help with disinfection.

Taiwan, which has kept the pandemic well under control thanks to early and effective prevention methods, has been rattled by new domestic transmissions, first in December and now in a hospital in the northern city of Taoyuan.

Until December, the island had not reported any local transmissions since April; all reported cases during that time were imported, which account for the vast majority of Taiwan's 868 infections.

January 20 2021 - 07:00

Nasrec field hospital to be used to ease pressure in Gauteng: Mkhize

The Nasrec field hospital will be used to ease the pressure in Gauteng as the province continues to see an increase in patients who require hospitalisation because of Covid-19 complications.

This is according to health minister Dr Zweli Mkhize, who was on an oversight visit in the province.

Mkhize said there was an agreement in place already with all hospitals in the province that once they start seeing an increase in patients needing hospitalisation, those who don’t need ICU should be transferred to the 4,000-bed field hospital.

January 20 2021 - 06:30

Restaurants lay bare their realities in SAB's fight against booze ban

Popular Johannesburg eatery The Local Grill will be unable to keep its doors open beyond the end of January if the alcohol ban continues, its owner Steven Maresch said in court papers on Tuesday.

Maresch’s affidavit is one of five supplementary affidavits that have been added to the court case brought by South African Breweries (SAB), challenging the alcohol ban imposed on December 29 under the amended level 3 lockdown regulations.

SAB has urgently approached the Western Cape High Court, asking it to declare the regulations that provide for the alcohol ban to be “unlawful and of no force and effect”.

January 20 2021 - 06:30

IMF approves $2.7 bln line of credit to Panama for pandemic fallout

The International Monetary Fund (IMF) said on Tuesday it had approved a $2.7 billion line of credit for Panama to address the coronavirus pandemic.

The IMF's executive board approved the two-year arrangement under its Precautionary and Liquidity Line (PLL) to serve as "insurance against extreme external shocks" that the pandemic's economic fallout causes.

In determining the Central American country's eligibility for PLL, the lender cited in a statement Panama's "sound economic fundamentals, strong institutional policy frameworks, long track record of good economic performance and policy implementation."


January 20 2021 - 06:25

Mexico reports more than 1,500 Covid-19 deaths, highest daily total

Mexico marked a grim milestone with 1,584 confirmed Covid-19 deaths on Tuesday, the country's highest daily total to date as it struggles to contain the spread of the coronavirus.

The health ministry's official tally counts 142,832 total fatalities due to the highly-contagious respiratory disease caused by the coronavirus, the fourth-highest death toll globally, behind only the United States, Brazil and India.

The health ministry also confirmed 18,894 new coronavirus infections on Tuesday, bringing the total number of cases to 1,668,396.


January 20 2021  - 06:00

Mask-wearing linked to reduced Covid-19 transmission, study suggests

Mask-wearing is associated with better control of Covid-19 transmission in communities, a new study published in The Lancet Digital Health journal has revealed.

More than 300,000 people in the US took part in the study, which is based on observational data and mathematical modelling.

Health minister Zweli Mkhize, speaking about the new coronavirus variant on Monday, said there was early evidence that the second wave of infections was being brought under control and he attributed this to measures like the wearing of masks.

January 20 2021  - 06:00

The new Covid strain plaguing SA: seven pressing questions answered

Since learning of the new Covid-19 variant, 501Y.V2, that reared its head in SA towards the end of last year, the country has been moved back to an adjusted level 3 lockdown in an attempt to curb the spread of the virus.

While much about this new variant is still uncertain and will require further research, we asked Prof Lynn Morris, interim executive director of the National Institute for Communicable Diseases (NICD), to answer some pressing questions about it:

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