COVID-19 WRAP | SA records lowest daily infections in two months

01 February 2021 - 07:17 By TimesLIVE
The first shipment of 1 million doses of the Oxford AstraZeneca vaccine is en route to SA, to arrive in Johannesburg on Monday.
The first shipment of 1 million doses of the Oxford AstraZeneca vaccine is en route to SA, to arrive in Johannesburg on Monday.

February 1 2021 - 22:41

'Government is the weakest link,' says Steenhuisen after Ramaphosa address

Not everyone was positively moved by President Cyril Ramaphosa's announcement of victory of the country's receipt of a million Covid-19 vaccines, the lifting of the beach and alcohol bans and the adjustment of the curfew by a few hours.

The DA on Monday questioned the reasoning behind several of Ramaphosa's latest moves, saying he could have done more.

February 1 2021 - 22:26

SA records 2,548 Covid-19 cases in 24 hours, the lowest in two months

SA recorded its lowest daily Covid-19 infections in exactly two months, with 2,548 cases confirmed in the past 24 hours.

Health minister Dr Zweli Mkhize said on Monday night that the new infections took the country's cumulative tally to 1,456,309. Mkhize also announced that 235 new Covid-19 related deaths were recorded in the past 24 hours, taking the national death toll to 44,399.

February 1 2021 - 21:46

We can save the industry, says restaurant association as Ramaphosa puts alcohol back on the menu

The Restaurant Association of SA (Rasa) on Monday expressed its gratitude at the easing of the lockdown regulations, which had threatened to cripple the industry.

“We have an opportunity to save the industry,” said CEO Wendy Alberts shortly after President Cyril Ramaphosa's address on Monday night.

February 1 2021 - 21:34

SA to nominate Cuban medics for Nobel prize, says grateful Ramaphosa

SA will nominate the Cuban medical brigade for the 2021 Nobel Peace Prize for its work around the world to fight Covid-19.

President Cyril Ramaphosa said this in his address to the nation about new Covid-19 regulations on Monday night. Ramaphosa praised Cuba for sending out 3,700 medical professionals around the world to fight the pandemic, including those who came to SA.

February 1 2021 - 21:30

IN FULL | Some bans lifted as SA remains on lockdown level 3: Ramaphosa's address to SA

President Cyril Ramaphosa on Monday revealed that the country would remain on lockdown level 3, but that some restrictions had been eased.

February 1 2021 - 21:27

Nobody will be forced to take Covid-19 vaccine, says Cyril Ramaphosa

President Cyril Ramaphosa on Monday was emphatic that there will be no repercussions for those who choose not to take the Covid-19 vaccine — even while he encouraged everyone to do so when it was their turn to get their shot.

Addressing the country during his latest “family meeting”, Ramaphosa said: “Nobody will be forced to take this vaccine. Nobody will be forbidden from travelling, from enrolling at school, or from taking part in any public activity if they have not been vaccinated. Nobody will be given this vaccine against their will, nor will the vaccine be administered in secret.”

February 1 2021 - 20:40

Booze unbanned and beaches open as Ramaphosa eases level 3 lockdown

SA will remain under lockdown level 3, but a number of the restrictions — including the ban on the sale of alcohol and the restrictions on worship — have been eased.

President Cyril Ramaphosa said on Monday night that a decline in the number of new cases meant the country could begin to ease some of the restrictions.

February 1 2021 - 20:36

Up to us not to let down our guard: Ramaphosa

With the first batch of vaccines arriving in SA on Monday, President Cyril Ramaphosa said it was possible to “imagine a world where the virus has been brought under control”.

“It is up to us to bring that world into being. It is up to us not to let down our guard, and to prevent a third wave of infections. It is up to us to protect ourselves, our families and our communities. It is also up to us to get vaccinated as soon as we are eligible and stop the virus from spreading any further.

“Above all, it is up to us to keep the flame of hope alive and to remain determined in our commitment to one another and to our country. I am confident that, together, we can overcome,” said Ramaphosa.

February 1 2021 - 20:31

Ramaphosa eases lockdown rules, but SA remains on level 3

SA will remain under lockdown level 3, but a number of the restrictions - including the sale of alcohol and the opening of faith-based institutions - have been lifted.

President Cyril Ramaphosa said on Monday night that a decline in the number of new cases meant the country could begin to ease some of the restrictions. This included reducing the curfew times, allowing faith-based gatherings, permitting the sales of alcohol and the reopening of public spaces.

February 1 2021 - 20:22

Good news, says Ramaphosa, as new Covid-19 infections drop

The number of new Covid-19 cases in SA has been consistently on the decline, President Cyril Ramaphosa said on Monday night - and the number of hospital admissions was also on the decline.

He said the first piece of good news was the arrival of the vaccines, and the second was that “we have recorded our lowest daily increase in infections since the beginning of December last year”.

“In fact, the average rate of new infections has been steadily coming down over the last three weeks, indicating that we are past the peak of the second wave,” said Ramaphosa.

February 1 2021 - 20:20

February 1 2021 - 20:17

“We aim to secure enough doses to achieve herd immunity, also known as population immunity. We will leave no stone unturned … to ensure enough vaccine doses are procured to achieve population immunity in our country,” said Ramaphosa.

This, according to scientists, is about 40 million people, or about 67% of the population.

February 1 2021 - 20:11

Describing what happens next, Ramaphosa said: “They will be tested at the national control laboratory to confirm their integrity has been maintained during transportation from India to South Africa. After testing, they’ll be distributed across the country to thousands of health workers who every day put their own lives at risk to save others.”

He said phase one of the rollout will target health-care workers, the second phase will see emergency workers, people who are older than 60, and people with comorbidities, as well as those living in places such as nursing homes and hospitals.

“In phase three, we will extend the vaccination programme to the rest of the adult population,” he said.

February 1 2021 - 20:08

Ramaphosa hails vaccine arrival as he begins family meeting

President Cyril Ramaphosa on Monday night described the arrival of 1 million vaccine doses in the country earlier in the day as something that “contains the promise that we can turn the tide on this disease that has caused so much devastation and hardship in our country and across the world”.

February 1 2021 - 20:07

February 1 2021 - 20:06

Special official funeral for judge 'KK' Mthiyane, who died of Covid-19

The late judge Khayelihle “KK” Kenneth Mthiyane — who died from Covid-19 related complications on Thursday — will be given a special official funeral, the government announced on Monday.

“After his passing, President Cyril Ramaphosa has honoured him by designating his funeral as a special official funeral, category 2,” read a statement from government. This type of funeral is for distinguished individuals and contains elements of police ceremonial honours.

February 1 2021 - 16:29

UK detects South African coronavirus variant in people with no travel links

Eleven people in different regions have tested positive for the South African coronavirus variant without having any links to people who have travelled recently, prompting mass testing in the areas to contain the outbreak.

The government said on Monday the cases were now self-isolating and robust contact tracing had taken place to trace their contacts and ask them to self-isolate.

February 1 2021 - 15:48

SA's first Covid-19 vaccine doses arrive by plane

The aeroplane carrying SA's first Covid-19 vaccine doses landed at the OR Tambo International Airport in Johannesburg on Monday as the country prepares to roll out an immunisation campaign.

President Cyril Ramaphosa and other top officials were at the airport to receive the 1 million doses, after some scientists publicly criticised the government for not securing shots sooner.

February 1 2021 - 15:12

See which employers were reported by workers over UIF Ters payments

A report released by Corruption Watch on Monday highlighted the experiences of 126 whistleblowers allegedly short-changed by employers in delivering what was promised as temporary economic relief during Covid-19.

The Corruption Watch Covid-19 Ters Corruption at Work report showed that 77 of the reports were from employees who suspected their employees had pocketed the Ters money instead of paying it over to them.

February 1 2021 - 15:04

LISTEN | Vaccines arrive in SA - what now?

Deputy director-general at the national department of health, Dr Anban Pillay, explains what protocols and procedures will be followed before the vaccine is administered to health workers. 

February 1 2021 - 14:55

WATCH LIVE | President Ramaphosa receives first shipment of Covid-19 vaccine

February 1 2021 - 14:00

POLL | Lockdown level 2 'is loading' - what do you hope to hear from President Cyril Ramaphosa?

President Cyril Ramaphosa  will on Monday evening address the nation regarding the easing of some lockdown regulations.

This is according to insiders who told Sunday Times Daily the cabinet is expected to move the country to lockdown alert level 2 owing to decreasing numbers of Covid-19 cases. 

February 1 2021 - 13:58

Ramaphosa vows transparency on Covid vaccine rollout amid concerns

The government has not been sufficiently transparent about the Covid-19 vaccine rollout strategy but it wants to do better, admitted President Cyril Ramaphosa on Monday. 

He was speaking at the annual National Economic Development and Labour Council (Nedlac) organised labour school just hours before SA was scheduled to receive its first consignment of the vaccines from India, which he described as the most extensive campaign in the history of the country. 

February 1 2021 - 13:06

President Cyril Ramaphosa to address the nation tonight

President Cyril Ramaphosa will address the nation at 8pm about the latest developments regarding Covid-19.

His spokesperson Tyron Seale confirmed on Monday that the president will address the nation after a meeting of the National Coronavirus Command Council (NCCC) and the cabinet.

February 1 2021 - 12:22

Urgent call for legislation to protect doctors treating Covid-19 patients

SA doctors feel vulnerable to the risk of prosecution if they have to make life-and-death decisions in the face of limited resources during the Covid-19 pandemic.

This is according to the Medical Protection Society (MPS), which represents 30,000 health-care professionals in South Africa.

February 1 2021 - 12:10

'The ban must stay because of friends the minister keeps?' - 7 reactions to Bheki Cele's booze ban stance

Police minister Bheki Cele has been lambasted on social media for allowing his experiences with friends to influence the ban on the sales and distribution of alcohol.

In a revealing interview with Sunday Times at the weekend, Cele opened up about his anti-booze stance and why he strongly supported the ban.

February 1 2021 - 12:01

'Please, Mr President - help us in the wine industry'

A worker in the Stellenbosch wine region sent an impassioned plea to President Cyril Ramaphosa on social media when harvest season arrived a week ago.

Jan-Nico Coetzee on Tuesday took to Facebook to appeal to Ramaphosa to rethink the alcohol ban, which has been put in place to alleviate the pressure on hospital trauma units during the Covid-19 second wave.

February 1 2021 - 11:20

Preferential treatment or taking a stand? Beach protest draws mixed reactions

A protest by beachgoers in Muizenberg, Cape Town, against lockdown regulations has been met with mixed reaction on social media.

Over the weekend, protesters arrived at Muizenberg beach wearing sarongs and sunscreen and disobeyed police who ordered them to turn them back.

In a video shared online, one unidentified protester said: “We want to surf, we want to swim. This is our beach.”

February 1 2021 - 11:15

Most Africans could be vaccinated by the end of 2021: Ramaphosa

President Cyril Ramaphosa says the goal is for most Africans to be vaccinated against Covid-19 by the end of the year. 

This as the continent has recorded more than 3.5 million cumulative infections and more than 88,000 fatalities. 

He was speaking in his capacity as the chairperson of the African Union (AU) in his weekly newsletter on Monday. 

February 1 2021 - 11:02

Gwede Mantashe's sister dies from Covid-19 related complications

The ANC has passed condolences to the family of its chairperson, Gwede Mantashe, after the passing of his sister Tozama Mantashe from Covid-19 related complications.

Tozama was a MP serving in the trade and industry portfolio committee.

Her death was announced by the party in parliament through a statement on Monday.

February 1 2021 - 10:30

Australia's Covid-19 inoculation programme to cost at least $4.8 billion, PM to say

Australia's Covid-19 inoculation programme will cost at least A$6.3 billion ($4.8 billion), Prime Minister Scott Morrison plans to say on Monday.

Australia — which until Sunday had gone two weeks without any locally acquired cases of Covid-19 — is expected to begin administering vaccines this month.

Though it has pledged to spend A$4.4 billion to acquire enough doses for its 26 million population, Morrison will say that his government has set aside a further A$1.9 billion to pay for the rollout.

February 1 2021 - 10:00

Israel extends lockdown, sees delay in Covid-19 turnaround

Israel extended a national lockdown on Sunday as coronavirus variants offset its vaccination drive and officials predicted a delay in a turnaround from the health and economic crisis.

February 1 2021 - 09:40

Japan expected to extend Covid-19 state of emergency

Japan is expected to extend a state of emergency on Tuesday to fight the spread of Covid-19 for Tokyo and other areas, three sources with knowledge of the legal procedures said on Monday.

February 1 2021 - 09:30

Chicago schools postpone in-person classes over Covid-19 safety plan

Chicago Public Schools on Sunday delayed the resumption of in-person classes for thousands of elementary and middle school students by at least a day as the district and teachers failed to reach an agreement on a Covid-19 safety plan.

February 1 2021 - 09:15

WHO team in Wuhan to visit provincial CDC on Monday

A World Health Organisation-led team investigating the origins of the Covid-19 pandemic was due on Monday to visit the Center for Disease Control and Prevention of Hubei province, the central Chinese region where the outbreak emerged in late 2019.

The group of independent experts left two weeks of quarantine on Thursday in Wuhan, the capital of Hubei province, and is conducting two weeks of field work. So far, it has included visits to hospitals, markets, and an exhibition commemorating Wuhan's battle with the outbreak.

February 1 2021 - 09:00

Booze ban set to be lifted this week, curfew eased and beaches reopened

The ban on the sales and distribution of alcohol is expected to be lifted when the country moves to a lower Covid-19 lockdown level this week.

This as cabinet is expected to ease Covid-19 restrictions, which will see the country move to alert level 2.

Sources with intimate knowledge of the latest talks say in light of decreasing numbers of daily Covid-19 infections, President Cyril Ramaphosa will announce changes which will include lifting the ban on sales and distribution of alcohol.

February 1 2021 - 08:44

Database to track any side-effects of Covid-19 vaccines — Zweli Mkhize

Government will launch a vaccine database to enrol and assist those receiving shots against Covid-19.

Health minister Zweli Mkhize said those eligible for a vaccine dose, in the phase starting with health workers most at risk, will register and this will be recorded for them to be reminded about the dates for their second shots. Registering is a precondition for vaccination and includes providing medical aid information by those who are members.

February 1 2021 - 08:43

Republicans press Biden to scale back $1.9 trillion Covid-19 relief plan

Ten moderate Republican US senators urged President Joe Biden on Sunday to significantly downsize his sweeping $1.9 trillion Covid-19 relief package to win bipartisan support as Democrats in Congress prepared to push ahead with his plan this week.

Biden responded by inviting the Republican lawmakers to the White House this week for talks, spokesperson Jen Psaki said, even as he continues to seek a comprehensive, large-scale measure.

February 1 2021 - 08:30

We are not in a race over vaccines, says EU's Von der Leyen

The head of the European Commission rejected suggestions that Europe was in a race to vaccinate its population against the coronavirus faster than other countries, saying that it was important to cooperate at this stage of the pandemic.

February 1 2021 - 08:03

Hundreds arrested in Gauteng for not wearing masks, drinking in taxis, breaking curfew

Hundreds of people were arrested in Gauteng at the weekend for contravention of the Disaster Management Act, provincial police said.

Police spokesperson Capt Mavela Masondo said 48 people were arrested in Mamelodi, northeast of Pretoria, during the O Kae Molao operation for transporting alcohol, drinking inside a taxi, failure to wear a mask, driving under the influence of alcohol and breaking the curfew regulation.  

February 1 2021 - 07:58

Quality assurance guarantee as first Covid-19 vaccines land in SA

President Cyril Ramaphosa and his deputy David Mabuza will on Monday afternoon receive SA’s first tranche of Covid-19 vaccines.

They will be accompanied by health minister Zweli Mkhize, acting minister in the presidency Khumbudzo Ntshavheni, high commissioner of India Jaideep Sarkar and CEO of Biovac Morena Makhoana, the presidency said.

February 1 2021 - 07:51

Algeria says it has discussed with Russia producing Moscow's Sputnik V vaccine

Algeria said on Sunday it had discussed with Russia the possibility of producing Moscow's Sputnik V Covid-19 vaccine.

Talks to manufacture the vaccine in Algeria took place during a meeting between Prime Minister Abdelaziz Djerad and Russian ambassador Igor Beliaev, the prime minister's office said.

“The two parties agreed to initiate contacts between the competent services of the two countries with the aim of establishing a bilateral co-operation ...," it said in a statement.

February 1 2021 - 07:30

US distributes 49.9m doses of Covid-19 vaccines, administers 31.1 million shots — CDC

The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said it had administered 31,123,299 doses of Covid-19 vaccines in the country as of Sunday morning and distributed 49,933,250 doses.

February 1 2021 - 07:00

Basic education to conduct Covid-19 compliance visits in Limpopo today ahead of February 15

Basic education deputy minister Makgabo Reginah Mhaule and Limpopo education MEC Polly Boshielo will visit schools in the province’s Sekhukhune East district to assess their state of readiness ahead of reopening on February 15.

February 1 2021 - 06:00

Should I give myself ivermectin? This is what an expert advises

Since the release of the first articles on the potential effectiveness of ivermectin, there have been several questions on the use of the cattle drug in people, since it is available over the counter as a veterinary drug.

The simple answer is no, don’t use it; it is illegal to use a veterinary drug or stock remedy on people. The compassionate use of ivermectin approved by the SA Health Products Regulatory Authority is still limited to only the medical drug, and will need approval by the Sahpra through its section 21 process (from Sahpra: “Only quality-assured ivermectin products intended for human use will be made accessible, and these will be controlled as prescription-only Schedule 3 medicines.”)

February 1 2021 - 06:00

Up close and personal with death: my two weeks working in a Covid ward

During the two weeks I spent in a Covid ward assisting the junior and senior physicians on call, this is what struck me the most: Covid-19 is a very lonely disease.

As hospitals are closed for visitors, patients never see any family or friends while they are in hospital.

Many of the patients I treated did not have enough data or airtime to phone their family regularly, so they had to rely on the nurses and doctors through whom messages are sent.

They are also dependent on us to feed them information about the outside world. They yearn for the short messages we receive from their families.