COVID-19 WRAP | SA passes 10-million mark for number of Covid-19 tests done

07 April 2021 - 08:28
By TimesLIVE
People socialise in a socially distanced outdoor seating area in Covent Garden, London, on April 6 before a further easing of lockdown restrictions for England on April 12.
Image: REUTERS/Toby Melville People socialise in a socially distanced outdoor seating area in Covent Garden, London, on April 6 before a further easing of lockdown restrictions for England on April 12.

April 07 2021 - 23:53

SA passes 10-million mark for number of Covid-19 tests done

SA hit a significant milestone on Wednesday night, as the 10-million mark for the number of Covid-19 tests was passed.

There has been 1,553,609 total cases confirmed across the country by Wednesday night, health minister Dr Zweli Mkhize said - and this from 10,020,025 tests conducted to date.

Of these, 24,594 were completed in the past 24 hours, with 756 of them coming back positive. This is a positivity rate of 3.07%.

April 07 2021 - 22:50

Brazil detects first case of South African variant as Covid-19 deaths soar

Brazil has recorded its first confirmed case of the highly contagious coronavirus variant discovered in South Africa, a fresh danger sign for a country already ravaged by the world's highest daily death toll fueled by a widespread local variant.

Last week, scientists at the Butantan biomedical institute said the case, identified in a woman in Sao Paulo state, might be a new local variant. Further analysis confirmed it as the first known local case of the variant widely circulating in South Africa and elsewhere.

Scientists fear a showdown between the South African variant and the already rampant Brazilian variant, known as P.1, both of which are more contagious and possibly more deadly than the original version of the coronavirus and have led to accelerated Covid-19 surges.

April 07 2021 - 22:38

IMF says more vaccine spending is fastest way to shore up public finances

The Covid-19 pandemic will continue to swell global public debt in 2021, but spending more money to accelerate vaccinations is the fastest way to start to normalise government finances, the International Monetary Fund said on Wednesday.

The IMF said in its 2021 Fiscal Monitor report that if faster global vaccinations bring the virus under control sooner, more than $1 trillion in additional global tax revenue could be collected through 2025 in advanced economies.

If that same upside scenario in the Fund's economic forecasts materialises, global GDP output could increase by $9 trillion during the same period as businesses reopen and hire more quickly, the IMF said.

April 07 2021 - 20:50

Women under 60 face higher risk of rare clotting after AstraZeneca shot - German official

Instances of a very rare clotting condition in women aged under 60 who received AstraZeneca's Covid-19 vaccine were 20 times higher than would normally be expected, Christian Bogdan, a member of Germany's vaccine committee, said on Wednesday.

His comments came as the European Medicines Agency (EMA) and Britain's medical regulator acknowledged a possible link between the AstraZeneca vaccine to rare blood clots with low blood platelet counts. The EMA conducted an in-depth review of 86 cases, including 18 fatalities.

Most were in women, but with just 169 total cases reported to the EMA after 34 million doses had been given, they appear to be extremely rare. In comparison, four women out of 10,000 would get a blood clot from taking oral contraception.

April 07 2021 - 20:40

AstraZeneca to flag possible blood clot side-effect of Covid-19 vaccine on labelling

AstraZeneca on Wednesday said it was working with European and British regulators to change the product information on its Covid-19 shot after authorities said they suspected possible brain blood clots were a rare side-effect of the shot.

"Both of these reviews reaffirmed the vaccine offers a high-level of protection against all severities of Covid-19 and that these benefits continue to far outweigh the risks," AstraZeneca said in a statement.

April 07 2021 - 17:14

DUT chaos: 16 arrested, campuses closed and Covid-19 rules ignored as hoax triggers registration rush

The Durban University of Technology (DUT) has shut all five of its Durban campuses after hundreds of prospective students clashed with the police after their unsuccessful attempts to register.

The clashes were trigged by a rush of students to the institution after a fake social media post on Tuesday that said DUT was accepting walk-ins for registration.

In a statement on Wednesday, DUT spokesperson Alan Khan said a large number of people invaded the sports centre on the Steve Biko campus in Durban on Tuesday.

April 07 2021 - 13:51

Britons spend more on golf and picnics as Covid-19 rules relax

British consumers ramped up their spending on golf, picnics and other newly permitted outdoor activities last week as some coronavirus restrictions were lifted, payments firm Barclaycard said on Wednesday.

Golf courses, tennis courts and open-air swimming pools reopened in England on March 29, and a ban on non-essential travel was lifted, though most shops, pubs, restaurants and hotels remain closed.

Face-to-face spending in the leisure and entertainment sector grew by 136% compared with the previous week and spending at golf courses jumped 370%.

April 07 2021 - 13:49

Merkel backs tougher Covid-19 lockdown in Germany

Chancellor Angela Merkel supports demands for a short, tough lockdown in Germany to curb the spread of the coronavirus as infection rates are too high, a German government spokesperson said on Wednesday.

Germany is struggling to tackle a third wave of the pandemic and several regional leaders have called for a short, sharp lockdown while the country tries to vaccinate more people.

“Every call for a short, uniform lockdown is right,” deputy government spokesperson Ulrike Demmer told reporters, adding Germany was seeing a growing number of intensive care patients.

April 07 2021 - 11:11

A third of Covid-19 survivors suffer neurological or mental disorders - study

One in three Covid-19 survivors in a study of more than 230,000 mostly American patients were diagnosed with a brain or psychiatric disorder within six months, suggesting the pandemic could lead to a wave of mental and neurological problems, scientists said on Tuesday.

Researchers who conducted the analysis said it was not clear how the virus was linked to psychiatric conditions such as anxiety and depression, but that these were the most common diagnoses among the 14 disorders they looked at.

Post-Covid cases of stroke, dementia and other neurological disorders were rarer, the researchers said, but were still significant, especially in those who had severe Covid-19.

April 07 2021 - 09:00

Australia calls for release of 3.1 million Covid-19 vaccine doses if EU not blocking exports

Australia said on Wednesday it will ask the European Union (EU) to release more than three million doses of AstraZeneca’s Covid-19 vaccine, testing the claim that Brussels is not blocking shipments as the country struggles to vaccinate its population.

On Tuesday the EU denied blocking vaccine shipments to Australia, which has fallen dramatically behind in its scheduled vaccination programme.

The EU said it was not responsible for AstraZeneca’s failure to uphold commitments to other countries. AstraZeneca did not immediately reply to a request for comment on Wednesday.

April 07 2021 - 08:42

All American adults eligible for Covid-19 vaccine by April 19, says Biden

US President Joe Biden on Tuesday moved up the Covid-19 vaccine eligibility target for all American adults to April 19, but warned that with new variants spreading “we’re still in a life and death race” with the coronavirus.

Biden directed states to widen the vaccine eligibility to people 18 or older by April 19, two weeks earlier than the May 1 deadline he announced previously. No Covid-19 vaccine is authorised yet for children under 16, though testing is under way.

Most US states had already said they would open vaccines to all adults by the new target date.

April 07 2021 - 08:17

Ivermectin for Covid-19: Compound may be made up on prescription from doctors

Ivermectin may now be used in SA for the treatment of Covid-19. That is the upshot of a settlement agreement, made an order of court, in four applications against the SA Health Products Regulatory Authority (Sahpra).

In terms of the agreement, the anti-parasitic drug can now be “compounded” and prescribed legally for the treatment of specific patients.

Doctors no longer have to use the “compassionate use” programme, initiated by Sahpra earlier this year, in which doctors had to apply through the authority’s Section 2 “compassionate use” programme (for unregistered medicines) for permission to use the drug to prevent and treat Covid-19.