COVID-19 LIVE UPDATES | Union questions 'slow start' to phase two of Covid-19 vaccine rollout

17 May 2021 - 07:47 By TimesLIVE
At the age of 103, Maria Lekiti gets vaccinated by Sister Ramatsobane Mahlangu at the Munsieville Care Centre for the Aged in Krugersdorp.
At the age of 103, Maria Lekiti gets vaccinated by Sister Ramatsobane Mahlangu at the Munsieville Care Centre for the Aged in Krugersdorp.
Image: Sebabatso Mosamo/Sunday Times

May 17 2021 - 22:25

Violent protests disrupt vaccine rollout for the elderly in the Free State

Day one of the phase two Covid-19 vaccine rollout for the elderly was disrupted as frustration over poor service delivery boiled over into violent protests on Monday at Mangaung in the Free State.

May 17 2021 - 22:24

Phase two vaccine rollout for elderly started 'reasonably well': Mkhize

The number of people vaccinated at old age homes on Monday still needs to be captured.

Covid-19 infections have climbed by 1,757, the health ministry said on Monday evening, on day one of the phase two vaccine rollout to the elderly that was partially disrupted by load-shedding and violent protests in parts of SA.

May 17 2021 - 20:58

New French Covid-19 cases tick up again, hospital pressure eases

The pressure on French hospitals from the coronavirus epidemic has eased further but two days before France reopens restaurants' outdoor terraces again, the slowdown in the number of new cases seen in the past two weeks came to a halt.

The health ministry reported 3,350 new cases on Monday - when the case count usually drops due to the weekend - an increase of 1.74% compared to last Monday and the same week-on-week as on Sunday, when nearly 14,000 new cases were reported.

In the past five weeks, week-on-week percentage increases have dropped from over six percent mid-April to under two percent last week and an 11-month low of 1.66% on Saturday.

The French government closely monitors week-on-week changes in the case tally, which feeds through to hospital and death tallies a few weeks later.

The seven-day moving average of new cases increased slightly to 14,394 on Monday, after falling virtualy without interruption from a 2021 high of over 42,000 per day mid-April.

France also reported there were 4,186 people in intensive care units with Covid-19 on Monday, a fall of 69 and the 14th consecutive decline.

Health ministry data also showed that the number of people in hospital with Covid-19 fell again, by 214 to 22,749, after rising on Sunday for the first time in nearly two weeks.

The daily Covid-19 death tally increased by 196 to nearly 108,000, compared to an increase of 292 last Monday. The seven-day moving average of deaths fell to 161 from 222 a week ago and around 300 mid-April.


May 17 2021 - 20:29 

Union questions 'slow start' to phase two of Covid-19 vaccine rollout

The South African Parastatal and Tertiary Institution Union (Saptu) said though they wanted to believe the second phase of the Covid-19 vaccine rollout would be successful, they did not believe health minister Zwele Mkhize when he said its slow start was a choice.

May 17 2021 - 19:59

Big hugs are in order after long-isolated grannies get their jabs at last

“It was six months ago that I last hugged my grandchildren. It’s been so long since I had someone hold me. I hope that after today I can hold my grandchildren soon.”

Fighting back tears as nurses prepared her for her Covid-19 vaccine, Jacoline Visagie, a resident of the Eersterust Welfare Organisation for the Aged in Pretoria, said she had been living for this day.

In January, 10 residents from the old-age home died in hospital from Covid-19. The centre’s CEO Kenneth Rosenberg believes the deaths occurred after a Christmas party that residents held with their families at the centre.

May 17 2021 - 19:38

US weekly deaths from Covid fall to lowest in 14 months

US deaths from Covid-19 last week fell to their lowest in nearly 14 months and the number of new cases continued to decline for a fifth week in a row, according to a Reuters analysis of state and county data.

Deaths for the week ended May 16 totaled 4,165, the lowest weekly death toll since March 2020, when the country reported 2,293 deaths. On average about 600 people died from Covid each day, down from a peak of over 3,000 deaths per day for most of January.

About 37% of the country's population has been fully vaccinated as of Sunday, and 47% has received at least one dose of a Covid-19 vaccine, according to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

New Hampshire leads the country with 85% of its residents receiving at least one dose, followed by Vermont at 65% and Massachusetts at 62%.

The rate of vaccinations, however, has been slowing for four straight weeks. In the past seven days, an average of 2 million vaccine doses were administered per day, which is down 2% from the previous week after falling 17% in the prior week.


May 17 2021 - 19:14

School sports may be suspended, but principals beg for an ad hoc strategy

Senior education officials met on Monday to discuss the possibility of suspending school sports due to an increase in Covid-19 infections.

Basic education department spokesperson Elijah Mhlanga said Hedcom (the heads of education departments committee), comprising the director-general, Mathanzima Mweli, his deputy directors-general and the heads of the nine provincial education departments, discussed the matter of contact sports.

May 17 2021 - 17:30

Paris museum gets ready to welcome visitors after Covid shutdown

At the Musee d'Orsay in Paris on Monday, workers were hanging a priceless Renoir painting in preparation for the museum's re-opening after six months with no visitors because of the Covid-19 pandemic.

The painting was one of many artefacts at the museum that were put in storage during the lockdown, to protect them from the effects of dust and sunlight, and which are now going back on display ready for the doors to open on Wednesday.

The museum, on the banks of the Seine river, hummed with activity on Monday as staff brought artworks out of storage into the public galleries, and lifted protective covers off glass cases containing rare treasures.

"We opened the ticket office a few days ago and it seems that the public really want to come back. And so much the better, because we've missed them," said Laurence Des Cars, director of the museum.

"Our mission is to welcome the public and to offer them, in the best way possible, direct contact with the works of art after all these months of computers and screens," she said.

The painting by impressionist artist Pierre-Auguste Renoir, was an 1887 work depicting a girl holding a cat. Wheeled from the storage area on a trolley, one worker held each side to carefully lift it onto the wall.

The French government closed museums and other cultural venues at the end of October to curb the spread of Covid-19. It is now allowing them to re-open after virus rates started to fall. But restrictions remain in place.


May 17 2021 - 17:32

UK reports 1,979 new Covid-19 cases, 5 deaths

Britain reported 1,979 new cases of coronavirus on Monday and five deaths within 28 days of a positive Covid-19 test.

The data showed 36.7 million people had been given their first vaccine dose. 


May 17 2021 - 17:10

EU regulator backs month-long storage of Pfizer vaccine in fridges

The European Medicines Agency (EMA) has recommended extending the storage time for the Pfizer-BioNTech Covid-19 vaccine at normal fridge temperatures to 31 days from five days, easing logistical challenges during rollouts in the region.

The change is applicable for unopened vials, the EMA said on Monday, adding that its suggestion came after the assessment of additional stability study data submitted by Pfizer and BioNTech.

May 17 2021 - 16:34

WHO chief calls on vaccine makers to advance doses for Covax

The head of the World Health Organisation called on manufacturers to make Covid-19 vaccine doses available to a vaccine-sharing facility earlier than planned due to a supply shortfall left by Indian export disruptions.

"While we appreciate the work of AstraZeneca who have been steadily increasing the speed and volume of their deliveries, we need other manufacturers to follow suit," said WHO director-general Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus at a virtual briefing, mentioning Pfizer and Moderna specifically.


May 17 2021 - 14:58

Archbishop Desmond Tutu and his wife Leah greet healthcare workers after receiving their vaccination

May 17 2021 - 14:33

LISTEN | There’s nothing new or anything to fear on vaccines, says Rev Chikane

Reverend Frank Chikane, the vice-president of the SA Council of Churches, on Monday said he had heeded the call to come in for his Covid-19 vaccination as he was hoping it would inspire other elderly people to register and receive the jab.

“We came here because we wanted to show the way. I registered and was ready to wait until I am called. We decided as leaders within the council of churches that we should show the way and go first,” Chikane said, speaking at the Esangweni Clinic in Tembisa.

May 17 2021 - 14:26

WATCH | Covid-19 second phase of vaccinations kicks off in Gauteng

SA’s second phase rollout of Covid-19 vaccines began on May 17 2021. Minister of health Zweli Mkhize joined other members of local and provincial government in overseeing the administration of vaccines to elderly people at Munsieville Centre for the Aged, near Krugersdorp.

May 17 2021 - 14:14

Smooth start to vaccinations at Ekurhuleni frail care centre

Jill Fraser, one of the first people to receive a Covid-19 vaccine at the Zanele Mbeki Frail Care Centre in Nigel, Ekurhuleni, expressed joy about being vaccinated.

Fraser is one of 20 people who were due to be vaccinated a day at the frail care facility, which has close to 200 residents.

She said the process was quick once it started. The programme to vaccinate the 20 residents began when Gauteng finance MEC Nomantu Nkomo-Ralehoko visited the centre after 11am.

May 17 2021 - 13:18

Tshwane doctor confident the vaccine rollout will be a success

Although Tshwane experienced a slow start to the day as government launched phase 2 of its Covid-19 vaccination programme, health officials believe it will be smooth sailing going forward.

With a target of vaccinating 468 people over the age of 60 a day, Dr Mpho Shabangu is confident the programme will be a success.

Shabangu, the Gauteng health department’s primary healthcare manager in Tshwane, said on Monday it was all systems go.

May 17 2021 - 13:14

'I could run a race right now': Tembisa gran after getting Covid-19 vaccine

“I was discouraged by others from getting the jab, but I am happy I got it.”

These were the worlds of elderly Tembisa citizen, Esther Mpande, shortly after she was vaccinated at the Esangweni Clinic in Tembisa, Ekurhuleni, on Monday morning.

“I am not sure how old I am, but I am in my 70s,” she said with a chuckle when asked about her age.

“I am so thankful to President Cyril Ramaphosa and the doctors. May God bless all of them. We have lost so many family members, so for us, this is a privilege and God’s grace.

May 17 2021 - 13:00

Clicks and Dis-Chem offering Covid-19 vaccines: what you need to know

SA pharmaceutical groups Dis-Chem and Clicks have announced plans to offer Covid-19 vaccines at their retail outlets.

On Monday, the country entered phase 2 of the Covid-19 vaccine rollout programme which will see the elderly and people with comorbidities receiving their jabs. 

Government will administer the two-shot Pfizer vaccines at 87 sites across the country. 

The phase is set to take place until October 17. 

May 17 2021 - 12:36

Health officials on hand to monitor for any vaccine side effects

Vaccination for Covid-19 was off to a slow start at the Discoverers Community Health Centre in Roodepoort, west of Johannesburg, on Monday, as nurses and staff struggled to capture details of those who were to be inoculated.

By midmorning, there were seven elderly people waiting in a queue to get inoculated, but nurses at vaccination stations were still struggling to register those who had not received an SMS confirming their registration.

Before they could go to the vaccination stations, residents had to first go to the registration desk, to get verified for vaccination. However, the first three people who arrived at the centre had not received confirmation messages, despite them claiming they had successfully registered online.

May 17 2021 - 12:19

Elderly woman paints a positive picture as she receives vaccine

Ethelwyn van Eck, 84, sat in her room at the tranquil Elphin Lodge Retirement Village, Johannesburg, as she waited for her Covid-19 vaccine on Monday.

The morning started off at a slow pace as the facility had to wait for Gauteng officials to unveil the process and for the vaccine to defrost.

Van Eck was the first elderly person to be vaccinated at the home. 

“I’m very much relieved to have been vaccinated, I think it’s the only way we can deal with the pandemic,” she said.

May 17 2021 - 12:00

Phase 2 of vaccine rollout: here are five important things you should know

A total of 87 sites around SA were open for administering the Pfizer vaccine on Monday in the second phase of the vaccine rollout, with 83 of these in the public sector and four in the private sector.

This is according to health minister Zweli Mkhize, who led the national health council in Covid-19 ahead of the launch on Sunday.

May 17 2021 - 11:03

Turning point in SA's 14-month fight against Covid-19: Vaccine rollout gains momentum

SA's vaccination programme offers the country the best hope of saving lives and jobs and getting the economy back on track.

Addressing a health department webinar on Sunday night to announce the start of the second phase of the vaccination campaign, Business for SA steering committee chair Martin Kingston said for the campaign to succeed, the pace and scale of registration and administering the shot needed to speed up.

“Business fully supports vaccination,” said Kingston. “In respect of Covid-19, vaccination is the best health policy, it is the best social policy, and it is the best economic policy.”

SA's business community had been working with the health department and the Solidarity Fund to build vaccination capacity.

May 17 2021 - 10:49

Soccer boss Irvin Khoza queues for Covid-19 vaccine

Citizens over the age of 60 have come out in their numbers to receive the Covid-19 vaccine at Munsieville Centre for the Aged in Krugersdorp, Gauteng.

Orlando Pirates chairman Irvin Khoza is among the senior citizens who will be vaccinated at the centre on Monday. He queued to be screened before being scheduled for his jab.

​Barbara Mashala, 67, said she couldn’t wait for this day. She woke early and was queuing from 5am so she could be first in line.

May 17 2021 - 10:27

North West allows walk-ins for this phase of Covid-19 vaccinations

A door-to-door campaign aimed at assisting registration for Covid-19 vaccinations will be rolled out in the North West this week as the province tries to bolster registrations for the life-saving jabs.

Health MEC Madoda Sambatha said: “This [door-to-door campaign] is because some of our communities do not have access to network. For instance, there are areas that are bordering Botswana where when you get there, predominately it is a Botswana network [that is available], not a South African network.” 

Without a South African network, residents could not link to the free online portal to register on the country's database for vaccination.

May 17 2021 - 10:12

'This is the best way of being safe': Pretoria man, 72, lines up for Covid-19 vaccine

It was all systems go at Pretoria’s FF Ribeiro Clinic, where scores of the city’s elderly and health workers queued for their Covid-19 vaccine on Monday.

Solomon Laka, 72, who lives in an inner city shelter for the elderly, said they had been told to get to the clinic early.

“I am excited. I got here early. I am ready. I only knew about the vaccines last week and that we could come to this clinic today.

“I don't have a cellphone so I could not register my name, but I have been told I will be helped.”

May 17 2021 - 07:43

We aren’t sure how long Covid-19 vaccine lasts in the body: Zweli Mkhize

There are unanswered questions about the Covid-19 vaccines being administered worldwide as countries battle through the deadly pandemic.

Outlining the delivery of the second phase of the national Covid-19 vaccination rollout from this week, health minister Zweli Mkhize on Sunday touched on one of the unknown but key factors of the vaccines.

“We are not certain how long vaccine protection will last. Doctors and scientists are working to understand this better and we will keep the public informed of these details,” Mkhize said.