COVID-19 WRAP | SA records 9,160 new Covid-19 cases in past 24 hours

21 June 2021 - 06:00 By TimesLIVE
More transmissible variants, including the Beta strain that emerged in SA, require higher antibody levels to prevent infection, prompting vaccine makers, including Pfizer and Moderna, to test whether tweaked versions of their existing shots will provide broader immunity.
More transmissible variants, including the Beta strain that emerged in SA, require higher antibody levels to prevent infection, prompting vaccine makers, including Pfizer and Moderna, to test whether tweaked versions of their existing shots will provide broader immunity.
Image: Reuters/ KIM KYUNG-HOON/ File photo

June 21 2021 - 20:09

Vaccines for Africa: WHO plans a vaccine tech hub - to be built in SA

The World Health Organisation (WHO) has announced the establishment of the first messenger RNA (mRNA) technology transfer hub for Covid-19 vaccines - and it will be built in SA.

Among other functions, the hub will allow for manufacturing of vaccines, medicines and other health-related commodities to scale up production.

This was a historic move, which would put Africa on a path to self-determination, said President Cyril Ramaphosa.

June 21 2021 - 19:48

More than 9,500 Covid-19 patients in SA hospitals as 93 die in a single day

More than 9,500 people are being treated in SA's hospitals for Covid-19 related complications, as the number of infections continue to rise rapidly.

The National Institute for Communicable Diseases (NICD) said on Monday that there were 9,160 new Covid-19 cases identified in SA in the past 24 hours. In the same period, 1,155 new hospital admissions were recorded, as well as 93 Covid-19 related deaths.

This means that there have now been 1,832,479 infections to date, along with 58,795 cumulative deaths and there are now 9,503 people being treated in the country's hospitals.

June 21 2021 - 19:04

US to share millions of Covid-19 shots with Latam, Africa, Asia

The White House on Monday laid out a plan to share 55 million US Covid-19 vaccine doses globally, with roughly 75% of the doses allocated to Latin America and the Caribbean, Asia and Africa through the COVAX international vaccine-sharing program.

The plan fulfills President Joe Biden's commitment to share 80 million U.S.-made vaccines with countries around the world. The president sketched out his priorities for the first 25 million doses from that pledge earlier this month.

"As we continue to fight the COVID-19 pandemic at home and work to end the pandemic worldwide, President Biden has promised that the United States will be an arsenal of vaccines for the world," the White House said in a statement.

June 21 2021 - 16:46

President Cyril Ramaphosa defends SA's use of J&J vaccine

President Cyril Ramaphosa has defended his government's insistence on going ahead with plans to roll out the Johnson & Johnson (J&J) vaccine.

Speaking at the opening session of the Qatar Economic Forum, Ramaphosa said SA would be going ahead with its vaccination programme using the J&J vaccine.

The country had secured 31 million doses of the vaccine, but has since been hit by delays after the US Food and Drug Administration raised red flags about the possibility of contamination from a Baltimore production facility.

June 21 2021 - 16:41

Gauteng in serious trouble, stricter lockdown may be needed — premier

Premier David Makhura on Monday said he was open “to exploring” putting Gauteng under stricter lockdown if need be.

“Gauteng is burning, and the province doesn't want to send out a message that everything is OK,” Makhura warned on Monday.

He was welcoming 60 military health personnel who were deployed to help healthcare professionals in the province amid a surge in Covid-19 cases. They will be rotated to assist where the biggest needs are.

June 21 2021 - 15:00

Florence Masebe warns Mzansi to stay cautious of people they interact with as third wave rises

Veteran actor Florence Masebe has once again sent out a reminder to South Africans to remain cautious of who they interact with as Covid-19 infections continue to rise and take more lives.

Since Covid-19 set foot in Mzansi, Florence has been one of the most vocal celebrities, constantly asking people to follow the set regulations and do their best to protect themselves and their loved ones against the coronavirus.

Two waves later, the actress is still asking South Africans to take Covid-19 seriously as the number of infections continues to rise. It seems some people have not grasped the severity of the situation if the pictures of crowds at clubs and people hosting events are anything to go by.

June 21 2021 - 14:17

‘God knew we need each other’: Couple beat Covid-19 after 40-plus days in hospital

Togetherness, prayer and fighting to stay alive for their children and granddaughter is what helped a Bloemfontein couple pull through their Covid-19 battle in hospital.

Days after returning from a wedding in the Eastern Cape, Fernando and his wife Lu-Anne Kruger started what they described as an emotional and difficult journey back to good health.

The couple, who have been married for more than 30 years, both tested positive for Covid-19.

June 21 2021 - 14:00

‘The country needs to be vaccinated’: Cassper Nyovest throws his weight behind EFF’s march to Sahpra

Rapper Cassper Nyovest has given the EFF’s upcoming “march to save lives” his support, saying the country needs to be vaccinated.

On Friday the EFF will picket outside the offices of the SA Health Products Regulatory Authority (Sahpra) to demand approval of the Russian and Chinese Covid-19 vaccines.

The party’s leader Julius Malema made the announcement last week after the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) asked Johnson & Johnson to discard doses of its Covid-19 vaccine meant for SA

June 21 2021 - 13:25

Taiwan says needs full review of pandemic handling as cases drop

Taiwan needs a thorough review of how it handled the Covid-19 pandemic once it is over, President Tsai Ing-wen said on Monday as case numbers dropped below 100 for the first time in more than a month, admitting they had been caught off guard at first.

Since last month, Taiwan has tightened curbs on private gatherings and closed entertainment venues as it battled a rise in domestic cases, a shock to an island that had previously largely kept infections well under control.

Speaking to local television, Tsai said the authorities had handled the first wave of the pandemic well."The second wave was even more ferocious," she said. "At the start we were somewhat caught off guard.

"Tsai's government was heavily criticised by the opposition for a lack of preparedness, including limited testing facilities, when cases suddenly surged last month, though authorities moved fast to address those issues."

Once the epidemic is over, we must have a thorough review" to improve the epidemic prevention system, she said.

Reuters

June 21 2021 - 12:30

A third Covid wave hits Afghanistan, cases and deaths spike

Afghanistan is seeing a huge spike in Covid-19 cases and a record number of deaths as the country struggles with its third, and worst, wave. Just last week, 10,000 new cases were recorded, and some say the true number is even higher.

June 21 2021 - 11:51

Kremlin says Covid-19 situation in Russia is still getting worse

The Kremlin on Monday described the coronavirus situation in Russia as difficult and said it was still deteriorating, rather than getting better.

Russia reported 17,378 new Covid-19 cases on Monday and 440 deaths linked to coronavirus in the last 24 hours.

Reuters

June 21 2021 - 10:45

Indonesia to tighten Covid-19 restrictions for 2 weeks after virus surge

Indonesia will tighten social restrictions for two weeks starting Tuesday, a government minister said, in a bid to contain a surge in coronavirus cases in the world's fourth most populous country.

The curbs will apply to 'red zones' where cases have been rising sharply this month, Coordinating Economic Minister Airlangga Hartarto told a streamed news conference on Monday.

The tightened regulations will mean that offices, restaurants, cafes and malls in such areas will only be permitted to operate at 25% capacity.

Religious activities at all houses of worship in red zones will be temporarily suspended, and tourist attractions closed.

Vital sectors, such as basic services, can operate at 100% capacity with stricter health protocols, while office capacity in non-red zone areas will be 50%.

Reuters

June 21 2021 - 10:00

Australian PM promises more Covid-19 shots to states as Sydney cluster grows

Australian states and territories will get more doses of Covid-19 vaccines soon, Prime Minister Scott Morrison said on Monday, as authorities look to avoid further delays in an immunisation drive that has hit several roadblocks.

Australian states have been asking for increased supplies of vaccines after Australia last week announced a policy shift that recommended AstraZeneca shots for over 60s only due to blood clot concerns, throwing the rollout into disarray.

"They are all getting additional doses ... it scales up again in July when the additional Pfizer doses go out," Morrison told radio station 2GB on Monday. Morrison did not specify the number of shots each state would get.

Health authorities said the Pfizer vaccine rollout is currently "operating in a resource-constrained environment" but distribution is expected to accelerate from August.

"As we get into that third-quarter, fourth-quarter, we will have far freer flows of Pfizer and start to be able to allocate that more freely," Lieutenant General John Frewen, the head of the country's vaccine taskforce, told reporters in Canberra after a meeting of the national cabinet.

Reuters

June 21 2021 - 09:24

China urges US not to seek 'political manipulation' after Taiwan vaccine aid

China's foreign ministry urged the United States on Monday not to seek "political manipulation" in the name of vaccine assistance after the United States delivered 2.5 million Covid-19 shots to Chinese-claimed Taiwan.

Ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian made the comment at a daily news briefing in Beijing. 

Reuters

June 21 2021 - 09:05

Covid surges, but Russians resist coaxing and compulsion to get vaccinated

Seemingly lost for an explanation of why vaccine uptake is so low in Russia when coronavirus infections are soaring and vaccines are readily available, the Kremlin resorted on Friday to complaining of "nihilism".

Five months into the campaign, and a growing battery of threats as well as incentives, by June 2 only 18 million Russians had received at least one dose of vaccine.

Vaccinations are even available in department stores. But at just one-eighth of the population, that figure, the most recent available, is far lower than in most Western countries.

The hold-outs have proved impervious not only to cash payments and chances to win a car or even an apartment, but also to loss of earnings and threats of dismissal.

And unlike most countries, Russia is not short of vaccines, having approved four domestically made shots, and finding willing buyers around the world for the most widely available, Sputnik V.

Reuters

June 21 2021 - 07:10

'The government doesn’t care about its people’: Angie Motshekga criticised for ‘back to school’ decision

Basic education minister Angie Motshekga is at the receiving end of criticism after she reiterated calls for schools to reopen full-time amid fears about the surge in Covid-19 infections.  

Briefing the media at the weekend, the minister said the department was doing all it could to avoid a  “academic disaster”. She said Covid-19 infections at schools must be treated on a case-by-case basis and must not be nationalised. 

June 21 2021 - 06:45

NZ regulator approves Pfizer vaccine for 12-15 year olds

New Zealand's medicines regulator Medsafe has provisionally approved the use of the Pfizer/BioNTech coronavirus vaccine for 12- to 15-year-olds, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern announced on Monday.

“After careful consideration of the most up-to-date scientific and medical data available, Medsafe has announced provisional approval for our young people to be given the Pfizer vaccine,” Ardern said in a statement.

There are around 265,000 children in the 12-15 age bracket in New Zealand, she said. 

Reuters

June 21 2021 - 06:20

Are African nations doing enough to curb Covid-19? | Inside Story

When the global pandemic began, many predicted African countries would suffer devastating losses.

And there have been more than five million cases and nearly 140-thousand deaths on the continent. But there have been worrying signs in recent weeks, with more contagious variants driving up infections in many African countries. Cases in some regions have more than doubled in just the past week.

The number of deaths has gone up as well. Leaders in Africa are now urgently appealing for more vaccines. But would that stop the rise in new infections on the continent?

June 21 2021 - 06:15

Former FDA commissioner says US sees Delta variant upsurges

Former FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb said states with lower vaccination rates in the Midwest and South are seeing an upsurge in cases involving the highly-infectious Delta coronavirus variant.

June 21 2021 - 06:10

Red roses mark Brazil's 500,000 Covid-19 deaths

Hundreds of red roses dotted Rio's Copacabana beach as Brazil’s death toll from Covid-19 surpassed 500,000.

June 21 2021 - 06:00

You may not need a Covid booster shot every year after all

As some governments and pharmaceutical officials prepare for Covid-19 booster shots targeting more infectious virus variants, health authorities say it’s too early to tell if they will be required.

“We do not have the information that’s necessary to make the recommendation on whether or not a booster will be needed,” said Soumya Swaminathan, the World Health Organisation’s (WHO) chief scientist. The “science is still evolving”.

Such a call is “premature” while high-risk individuals in most of the world haven’t yet completed a first course of vaccination, she said. Data from countries introducing precautionary extra inoculations later this year, particularly for vulnerable people whose immunity to SARS-CoV-2 may wane faster, will inform WHO’s guidance, Swaminathan added.

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