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COVID-19 WRAP | SA passes 50,000 Covid-19 deaths

01 March 2021 - 07:00 By TimesLIVE
South African President Cyril Ramaphosa gestures as he arrives to receive the Johnson and Johnson coronavirus disease vaccination at Khayelitsha Hospital near Cape Town, South Africa, on February 17, 2021.
South African President Cyril Ramaphosa gestures as he arrives to receive the Johnson and Johnson coronavirus disease vaccination at Khayelitsha Hospital near Cape Town, South Africa, on February 17, 2021.
Image: REUTERS/Mike Hutchings

March 01 2021 - 22:06

Another grim Covid-19 milestone as Mkhize confirms 50,000 deaths in SA

More than 50,000 people have died in SA from Covid-19 related illnesses.

Health minister Dr Zweli Mkhize confirmed the grim milestone on Monday night. The first Covid-19 related fatality in SA was recorded on March 27 last year.

All of SA's deadliest days for Covid-19 so far came during the second wave of infections.

March 01 2021 - 21:44

IEC welcomes level 1 restrictions, saying it readies everyone for local government elections

The Electoral Commission of SA (IEC) on Monday welcomed the decision to move the country to lockdown level 1, saying this would open the door for political party campaigning.

Later in 2021, the country will go to the polls for the local government elections. But before then, several by-elections have been scheduled for next month and mid-May.

In a statement on Monday, the commission said that President Cyril Ramaphosa's announcement on Sunday night that the country would move to level 1 `“has opened the way for the resumption of some political activities”.

March 01 2021 - 20:21

Easing lockdown just before Easter could lead to earlier third wave, says expert

SA is likely to see the resurgence of Covid-19 infections towards May.

This is according to Prof Shabir Madhi, professor of vaccinology at Wits University, who was speaking on Monday during a leadership dialogue under the theme “Covid-19 vaccines: challenges and opportunities”, which was hosted by the Wits Business School.

Madhi said the easing of regulations just before the Easter season could lead to the third wave arriving sooner than expected.

March 01 2021 - 19:41

UK health official says more data needed on vaccine effectiveness on Brazil variant

More data is needed to access the effectiveness of vaccines against the so-called Brazil variant of Covid-19, an British health official said on Monday.

"The current vaccines have not yet been studied against this variant, and we will need to wait for further clinical and trial data to understand the vaccine effectiveness against this variant," Susan Hopkins from Public Health England told a news conference.


March 01 2021 - 19:05

Coronavirus infections rise for first time in seven weeks, WHO says

The number of new coronavirus infections globally rose last week for the first time in seven weeks, WHO director-general Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said on Monday.

Tedros said the rise was “disappointing but not surprising” and urged countries not to relax measures to fight the spread of the disease. He suggested that countries were hastening to loosen those measures, betting on vaccines to bring an end to the Covid-19 pandemic.

“If countries rely solely on vaccines, they are making a mistake. Basic public health measures remain the foundation of the response,” Tedros said.

March 01 2021 - 18:11

UK gives first dose of Covid-19 vaccine to 20.3 million people

A total of 20.3 million people have received their first dose of a Covid-19 vaccine, official data released on Monday showed.

Britain also reported a further 5,455 cases and 104 deaths within 28 days of a positive test. That compares with 6,035 cases and 144 deaths on Sunday. 


March 01 2021 - 14:40

Finland declares state of emergency as Covid-19 cases rise

The Finnish government declared a state of emergency on Monday due to rising Covid-19 infections, a step that would allow the Nordic country to shutter restaurants and to impose other measures to blunt the pandemic.

The decision comes as new variants contribute to a sharp rise in infections in the country, which has already closed its borders. The state of emergency would also allow the government to further shut schools and limit movement between regions.

"The government sees it necessary that we all have fewer contacts," Prime Minster Sanna Marin told a news conference. "Everyone now has the opportunity to impact how the spring and summer will turn out."

March 01 2021 - 14:34

Teachers have similar levels of Covid-19 exposure to other jobs

Teachers are not at a higher risk of infection in their jobs than people in other professions, data released by Britain's Office for National Statistics said on Monday, ahead of a planned reopening of schools in England next week.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson has prioritised the reopening of schools as he plots a route out of England's third national lockdown. They are set to reopen on March 8.

Johnson has said schools are safe but the mix of households can contribute to the spread of the virus.

March 01 2021 - 14:20

EXPLAINED | Sifting through level 1 ‘50% of the capacity of the venue’ confusion

Almost a year since the government implemented lockdown regulations to curb the spread of Covid-19, the “50% capacity” regulation for indoor and outdoor venues still creates confusion.

On Sunday, President Cyril Ramaphosa moved SA from level 3 to level 1 lockdown of the risk-adjusted strategy.

Addressing the nation on developments in the country’s response to the pandemic, Ramaphosa said the decision was taken after the number of new Covid-19 infections showed a steady decline compared to December and January.

March 01 2021 - 14:09

Amid scramble for Covid-19 vaccine, Latin America turns to Russia

As Bolivia struggled late last year to secure deals with large drug firms to supply Covid-19 vaccines, the incoming president, Luis Arce, turned to Russia for help.

By the end of December, Bolivia clinched its first major Covid-19 vaccine deal, with enough shots for some 20% of the population. The first Sputnik V doses arrived in the country in late January, just as virus cases were spiking.

“It was a really marathon task,” said Bolivian trade minister Benjamin Blanco of the procurement quest, but Russia’s political will made it possible. Western vaccine makers “told us developing countries that we had to wait until June.” He didn’t name names.

March 01 2021 - 14:01

How does the J&J vaccine compare to other coronavirus jabs? Four questions answered

The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) agency has authorised the use of the Johnson & Johnson (J&J) coronavirus vaccine in adults. 

Maureen Ferran, a virologist at the Rochester Institute of Technology, explains how this third authorised vaccine works and explores the differences between it and the Moderna and Pfizer–BioNTech vaccines  already in use.

March 01 2021 - 13:59

Ivory Coast to launch first vaccination drive with COVAX shots

People began to queue early as the Ivory Coast prepared to become the first country to launch a Covid-19 inoculation drive on Monday with doses from the COVAX vaccine sharing facility.

Ivory Coast received 504,000 doses of the AstraZeneca/Oxford vaccine on Friday, and plans to roll it out to medical workers, security forces members and teachers before vaccinating people over 50, those with chronic diseases and travellers.

Over a hundred people were lining up early on Monday at a sports complex in the Treichville neighbourhood of Ivory Coast's commercial capital Abidjan to receive their first shot.

March 01 2021 - 12:54

Sprinter Blake says he would rather miss Olympics than get Covid-19 vaccine

Olympic champion sprinter Yohan Blake of Jamaica said he would rather miss the Tokyo Games than get the Covid-19 vaccine, although getting vaccinated will not be required of the athletes competing there this summer.

"My mind still stays strong, I don't want any vaccine, I'd rather miss the Olympics than take the vaccine, I am not taking it," he was quoted as saying in Jamaican newspaper The Gleaner.

"I don't really want to get into it now, but I have my reasons."

Blake, a one-time rival of Jamaican great Usain Bolt, will likely still be able to participate in what is expected to be the 31-year-old's third and final Games even if he does not get the vaccine.

March 01 2021 - 12:50

Good move or a 'trap'? - SA reacts to level 1 lockdown

The second move to level 1 lockdown has been met with mixed reactions online.

On Sunday, President Cyril Ramaphosa announced that the country would be moving to level 1 after two months of being in adjusted level 3.

During his address to the nation, Ramaphosa said the move to level 1 was due to a significant decline in Covid-19 cases in recent weeks.

March 01 2021 - 12:49

Alert us if Covid-19 cases rise in your home town during level 1: Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma

Co-operative governance and traditional affairs (Cogta) minister Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma says districts must alert communities if coronavirus infections start to rise again after the move to alert level 1 of the lockdown.

Gazetting the changes announced by President Cyril Ramaphosa on Sunday night, she said: “All district municipalities must, after consultation with its local municipalities in its area, alert communities within that district of the increasing number of infections that could lead to that district being declared a hotspot.”

The minister called on citizens to observe all the Covid-19 health protocols and remaining restrictions to avert a possible resurgence in infections.

March 01 2021 - 12:48

Lockdown level 1: Banks must police ATMs, old age home visits allowed and voting readiness set to resume

Despite an appeal from the industry, all banks and financial institutions have been ordered to ensure their automated teller machines (ATMs) provide hand sanitiser for use by members of the public.

They must also take steps to ensure people queuing at ATMs maintain a distance of 1.5m from each other.

This is contained in the latest government gazette regarding alert level 1 Covid-19 restrictions published by co-operative governance and traditional affairs (Cogta) minister Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma.

March 01 2021 - 12:45

‘Hello, third wave!’ - celebs react to SA moving to level 1 lockdown

Some of Mzansi's famous faces have added their reactions to news of SA moving to lockdown level 1.

President Cyril Ramaphosa made the announcement on Sunday evening during an address to the nation on the latest Covid-19 developments.

The changes in regulations include the lifting of all remaining prohibitions on the sale of alcohol - other than during curfew - and political gatherings, and the easing of the curfew by an hour.

March 01 2021 - 12:22

Move to lockdown level 1 is ‘beautiful music’ for restaurant industry: Rasa

The Restaurant Association of SA (Rasa) says the country’s move to level 1 of the lockdown is an opportunity for the industry to create new jobs and bring back staff who were laid off.

President Cyril Ramaphosa announced the move from level 3 to level 1 on Sunday evening.

This was due to a significant decline in daily Covid-19 infections in recent weeks, an indication SA had “clearly emerged from the second wave”.

March 01 2021 - 07:31

NICD warns of rabies infections as dog owners defer vaccinations due to Covid-19

Fear of contracting Covid-19 has been associated with a drop in childhood immunisation in the past, but according to the National Institute for Communicable Diseases (NICD) the pandemic may also have resulted in neglect of pet vaccinations too.

So far this year, two people have died from rabies. In total, eight people died of confirmed rabies infections in 2020.

In its latest monthly communiqué, the NICD said the two deaths were that of a nine-year-old boy from Matangari village in Thohoyandou, Limpopo, and a two-year-old boy from eNgonyameni near Umlazi in KwaZulu-Natal.

March 01 2021 - 07:27

WATCH | Covid-19 restrictions eased as SA moves to lockdown alert level 1

President Cyril Ramaphosa addressed the nation on Sunday about the latest Covid-19 developments.

Ramaphosa touched on Covid-19 vaccine availability, moving to alert level 1 and the various changes that come with the easing of restrictions.

The address comes as SA had, by Saturday night, a confirmed tally of 1,512,225 Covid-19 infections countrywide and 49,941 confirmed Covid-19 related fatalities.

March 1 2021 - 07:00

'Told you guys': Malema on his prediction that SA would move from level 3 to level 1