COVID-19 WRAP | Mkhize says 'promising evidence' that second wave on the decline

22 January 2021 - 07:20 By TimesLIVE
A nurse gestures through a doorway in the HDU (High Dependency Unit) at Milton Keynes University Hospital, amid the spread of the coronavirus disease (Covid-19) pandemic, Milton Keynes, Britain, January 20, 2021.
A nurse gestures through a doorway in the HDU (High Dependency Unit) at Milton Keynes University Hospital, amid the spread of the coronavirus disease (Covid-19) pandemic, Milton Keynes, Britain, January 20, 2021.
Image: REUTERS/Toby Melville

January 22 2021 - 22:13

40,000 now dead from Covid-19 in SA, but Mkhize says 'promising evidence' that second wave on the decline

Health minister Dr Zweli Mkhize said on Friday night that there was “promising evidence” that the Covid-19 second wave was on the decline.

Mkhize said on Friday that 11,761 new cases were confirmed in the past 24 hours — but this was at a positivity rate of 19%, significantly lower than the positivity rate from the height of the second wave of infections over the past month.

But this good news comes against the backdrop of SA reaching another grim milestone in its battle against the pandemic. Mkhize reported that another 575 Covid-19 related deaths had been reported, meaning that more than 40,000 have now died across SA.

January 22 2021 - 22:00

'He did not jump the queue': CEO defends billionaire Johann Rupert getting vaccine in Switzerland

SA billion Johann Rupert “did not jump any queue” by getting the Covid-19 vaccine in Switzerland.

This is according to Remgro CEO Jannie Durand, via text message on Friday night. Rupert owns Remgro, as part of his extensive business empire.

He was speaking after the Swiss daily national newspaper Tages-Anzeiger reported that Rupert has secured a Covid-19 vaccine after he flew into the European country and jumped the country’s inoculation queue.

January 22 2021 - 20:51

UK police break up Covid-19 rule-breaching wedding with 150 guests

British police said on Friday they had broken up a wedding with about 150 guests in violation of Covid-19 lockdown rules, which only allow six people to attend.

Weddings are currently supposed to take place only under "exceptional circumstances".

However, officers found a large gathering in Stamford Hill, in north London, with the windows covered to stop people seeing inside.

Reuters

January 22 2021 - 18:48

Netherlands and Dubai ban travellers from SA due to Covid variant

Many countries continue to bar travellers from SA, as they implement renewed lockdowns and travel restrictions due to new coronavirus variants.

On Wednesday, the Netherlands announced new travel measures that will be implemented to control new Covid-19 variants. Among the travel restrictions, the country has barred passenger flights from SA, Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Cabo Verde, Chile, Colombia, Ecuador, French Guiana, Guyana, Panama, Paraguay, Peru, Suriname, Uruguay and Venezuela.

The flight ban is expected to remain in force for one month, or until the government finalises the planned legislation on mandatory quarantine rules for travellers.

January 22 2021 - 18:40

Masuku tells court SIU’s findings against him were a 'sloppy job'

“Canards, yarns and suppositions.”

This is how former Gauteng health MEC Bandile Masuku described the Special Investigating Unit’s (SIU’s) findings against him in its investigation into the province’s Covid-19 PPE scandal, which led to his axing.

The MEC’s strident attack on the SIU’s findings — calling them “simply garbage” in court papers — was heard by a full bench of the Pretoria high court on Thursday.

January 22 2021 - 18:23

Public schools to open from February 15, private schools 2 weeks earlier

Public schools will officially open from February 15, but private schools will be allowed to open two weeks earlier.

This is according to the latest basic education government gazette, published on Friday.

The gazette states that all public schools must be reopened as follows:

January 22 2021 - 18:10

Government considering increased borrowing and involving private sector to fund vaccines

The government will have to consider all options to fund the vaccine, including increasing public borrowing and involving the private sector.

President Cyril Ramaphosa told the ANC national executive committee (NEC) lekgotla on Friday that the cost of purchasing the vaccine was a major challenge.

He said besides increasing government debt, there has been engagement with the private sector on how it can help with the funding of the vaccine.

January 22 2021 - 17:40

Raymond Zondo 'in good health' amid Covid-19 fears

The state capture inquiry has assured the public that its chairperson, deputy chief justice Raymond Zondo, was in good health and not showing any Covid-19 symptoms.

This comes after Zondo shelved oral public hearings for this week when an inquiry staffer, who worked closely with him, tested positive last Friday. Proceedings were abandoned halfway through the testimony of former Eskom boss Brian Molefe following the positive test result.

Inquiry secretary Prof Tumi Mosala said: “The commission is happy to inform the public the chairperson is in good health and has no symptoms associated with Covid-19. He is busy with the work of the commission in his place of isolation and will be back when the hearings resume next week as his period of isolation will have ended.”

January 22 2021 - 15:20

Taxi fumes of the good kind in Limpopo as health department targets Covid hotspots

There was a celebratory atmosphere at the Polokwane taxi rank this week as Limpopo transport MEC Mavhungu Lerule-Ramakhanya got her hands dirty — well, clean, technically — by fumigating minibus taxis.

Clad in masks and with sanitisers in hand, taxi bosses, drivers, marshals and passengers could not hide their jubilation at the delivery of ten 25-litre containers of disinfectant and a dozen spraying tanks, donated by the provincial department.

This was part an intervention at taxis ranks across the province, after reports that  taxi operators were out of pocket and could not afford to fumigate their vehicles.

January 22 2021 - 14:53

Hungary to buy 2 million doses of Russia's Covid-19 vaccine -minister

Hungary has agreed to buy 2 million doses of Russia's Sputnik V Covid-19 vaccine, enough to inoculate a million people, Foreign Minister Peter Szijjarto said on Friday after talks with his Russian counterpart Sergei Lavrov.

Szijjarto said an initial shipment would be enough to inoculate 300,000 people, followed by two other batches for half a million and 200,000 people, respectively. He did not say when the first doses would arrive.

Reuters

January 22 2021 - 14:36

Japan tourism push linked to surge in Covid-19 infections -study

A domestic tourism campaign promoted by Japan's Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga may have contributed to a sharp increase in coronavirus infection cases in the country, a prominent adviser to the government's pandemic response said.

While the government has said there is no evidence that its "Go To" travel campaign spread the coronavirus, Suga suspended it in December to contain mounting Covid-19 cases, and as his approval ratings sank over handling of the pandemic.

A study was published on Thursday by the Journal of Clinical Medicine concluded that "the number of travel-associated Covid-19 cases that involved crossing of prefectural borders increased during the Go To Travel campaign."

Reuters

January 22 2021 - 14:10

EU will seek clarification from Pfizer over new vaccine delays

The European Commission will seek clarification from Pfizer for new delays in delivering COVID-19 vaccines to EU countries next week, a spokesman for the EU executive said on Friday."

We will seek clarification from the company," the spokesman told a news conference in reply to a question about a new slowdowns in deliveries reported by EU countries for next week.

Pfizer and the Commission had earlier said that there would have been no more slowdown next week, after supplies slowed this week. 

Reuters

January 22 2021 - 14:06

Erdogan says 10m CoronaVac doses could reach Turkey by weekend

Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan said on Friday China had approved delivery of a second consignment of the CoronaVac vaccine and 10 million doses could arrive in Turkey by this weekend.

Turkey has already received an initial consignment of three million doses of the vaccine, produced by Sinovac Biotech , and has so far vaccinated more than 1.170 million people, mostly health workers and elderly people."

(The second consignment) was approved in China," Erdogan told reporters in Istanbul. "It is highly probable that it could come by the end of this week. We expect 10 million to come."

Reuters

January 22 2021 - 13:15

WATCH | Covid-19 vaccine for 'The Terminator'? Yes, and he recommends it to everyone

Arnold Schwarzenegger also slammed conspiracy theories about the vaccine.

Today was a good day. I have never been happier to wait in a line. If you’re eligible, join me and sign up to get your vaccine. Come with me if you want to live!

Posted by Arnold Schwarzenegger on Wednesday, January 20, 2021

January 22 2021 - 12:07

Cash for Covid? UK says no decision on reported plan for positive tests

Britain's environment minister said on Friday no decision had been taken on plans to give everyone who tested positive for Covid-19 a payment after newspapers reported people could be given 500 pounds ($683.75) to incentivise them to self-isolate.

Newspapers said the government was considering the plan because surveys suggested that some people with symptoms were not taking tests because they did not want to self-isolate if they were positive and so be unable to work.

"I'm not going to comment on this particular paper but we've always kept it under review," minister George Eustice said.

Reuters

January 22 2021 - 10:43

Teachers living in fear over Covid-19 second wave, survey finds

Teachers fear returning to schools during the second wave of Covid-19 infections and are sceptical of the government’s ability to resolve coronavirus-related issues by February 15.

​A national survey conducted by a professional learning community connecting teachers with their peers found many feared the new coronavirus variant could wreak havoc at schools.

January 22 2021 - 10:37

Concerns amid rising Covid-19 cases at St Albans prison

Prisons are overcrowded and understaffed and the department of correctional services is not acting in the best interest of officials amid increasing Covid-19 infections among prisoners and prison staff.

​These were claims made by the country’s biggest prison workers’ union earlier this week. The regional management of the Police and Prisons Civil Rights Union (Popcru) painted a dire picture of conditions at St Albans prison in Port Elizabeth.

To date, 144 prison officials have died from Covid-19 across the country — 25 of them in the Eastern Cape.

January 22 2021 - 10:35

Covid-19 claims the lives of five members of one family

What was supposed to be a jolly time for a Limpopo family ended tragically when five relatives died of illnesses related to Covid-19 after a meeting ahead of lobola negotiations.

January 22 2021 - 10:05

UK couple holds off on Covid-19 treatment to wed

British couple Elizabeth Kerr and Simon O'Brien had been planning to marry in June. Then Covid-19 struck.

Both contracted the disease and were rushed to Milton Keynes University Hospital in the same ambulance when their oxygen levels fell dangerously low.

Kerr and O'Brien became so ill that medical staff scrambled to organise a wedding before it was too late. 

January 22 2021 - 08:09

We're halfway there: Experts say SA has acquired half the vaccines it needs for herd immunity

SA has acquired roughly half the vaccine it needs for the country to hit its target of achieving herd immunity against the SARS-CoV-2 virus.

Speaking at a webinar on Thursday evening, Prof Barry Schoub, who chairs the Covid vaccine ministerial advisory committee, said it was vital to suppress the virus to the level of the common cold to bring an end to the pandemic.

January 22 2021 - 08:00

Heartbreak of the ice-cream sellers whose only customers are the bereaved

Cemeteries are sacred for many; a place to mourn, remember and reflect. But, as Covid-19 infections climb and as lockdown level 3 bites, cemeteries have become places ice-cream vendors rely on to try to put food on the table.

January 22 2021 - 09:38

Denmark halts all flight from Dubai for five days

Denmark has halted all arriving flights from Dubai for five days due to potential problems with fake coronavirus tests in Dubai, the country's transport ministry said on Friday. 

Reuters

January 22 2021 - 07:15

Pfizer slashed in half the volume of vaccines it will deliver to some EU countries this week.

Three mutant Covid-19 variants that emerged in Britain, South Africa and Brazil pose a high risk in Europe, Europe's disease surveillance agency said, while in the United States, President Joe Biden moved swiftly to coordinate a federal effort to fight the pandemic

Hotspots of Covid-19 infections in the European Union will be labelled "dark red" zones and travellers from those areas will be required to take a test before departure and undergo quarantine, the chief of the bloc's executive said on Thursday.

French President Emmanuel Macron told his European Union counterparts France would make PCR tests compulsory for all travellers into France from Sunday, including from fellow EU countries.

Reuters

January 22 2021 - 07:10

Thailand reports 309 new coronavirus cases

Thailand reported 309 new coronavirus cases on Friday, bringing the total number of infections to 13,104 since it detected its first case a year ago.

The tally included 12 imported cases and there were no new deaths reported, the country's Covid-19 taskforce said. Thailand has recorded 71 coronavirus-related fatalities so far.

Reuters

January 22 2021 - 07:00

Join me in prayer, first lady asks Zimbabwean women as Covid sets in

Zimbabwe's first lady Auxillia Mnangagwa has invited women in her country to join her for three days of prayer and fasting over the Covid-19 pandemic.

Mnangagwa — who refers to herself as “the mother of the nation” — said she would fast and pray from Thursday until Saturday for Zimbabwe to be spared from further “calamity and suffering”.

January 22 2021 - 07:00

Germany's confirmed coronavirus cases rise by 17,862 -RKI

The number of confirmed coronavirus cases in Germany increased by 17,862 to 2,106,262, data from the Robert Koch Institute (RKI) for infectious diseases showed on Friday.

The reported death toll rose by 859 to 50,642, the tally showed. 

Reuters

January 22 2021 - 06:55

Beijing launches mass virus tests as China's daily tally drops slightly

Beijing launched mass Covid-19 testing in some areas on Friday, while Shanghai was testing all hospital staff as China battles its worst outbreak of the disease since March and families fret over reunion plans for the Lunar New Year amid new curbs.

Mainland China reported a slight decline in new daily Covid-19 cases on Friday - 103 from 144 cases a day earlier.

Of these new cases, 94 were local transmissions: northeastern Heilongjiang reported 47 new cases, while Jilin province reported 19 new cases. Shanghai reported six new cases, while the capital Beijing reported three new cases.

Reuters

January 22 2021 - 06:00

Black market alcohol takes a dive due to 'Janu-worry', rise in Covid-19 cases and fewer suppliers

With the rise in Covid-19 cases, more police visibility and “Janu-worry” blues, alcohol sales in the illicit market have slumped.

“Business is bad,” Lawrence told TimesLIVE in an interview this week. “We never got a chance to stock up. Our suppliers, too, did not get a chance to stock up before alcohol was banned.”

Lawrence, which is not his real name, was essentially an alcohol bootlegger during the first lockdown. The first time around, South Africans were given time to buy booze before the ban kicked in. The most recent ban, announced by President Cyril Ramaphosa on January 28, however, was with immediate effect as lockdown level 3 was implemented.

LISTEN | Dr Anban Pillay answers our vaccine questions

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