COVID-19 WRAP | SA records more than 11,000 new Covid-19 cases in past 24 hours

22 June 2021 - 06:00 By TimesLIVE
A person takes part in an event to light candles in honour of the 500,000 people who have died from the coronavirus disease (Covid-19) in Brazil, in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, June 21, 2021.
A person takes part in an event to light candles in honour of the 500,000 people who have died from the coronavirus disease (Covid-19) in Brazil, in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, June 21, 2021.
Image: REUTERS/Pilar Olivares

June 22 2021 - 19:45

SA records nearly 300 Covid-19 deaths in 24 hours

Nearly 300 new Covid-19 related deaths were recorded in the past 24 hours, the National Institute for Communicable Diseases said on Tuesday.

The 297 fatalities in the past 24 hours is the highest daily number of fatalities recorded since March 19, when there were 311 deaths recorded.

This means that there have now been 59,092 known deaths linked to the pandemic since its outbreak in the country in March last year.

June 22 2021 - 17:01

AG paints grim picture of how towns mismanaged Covid-19 cash

Amid a deadly pandemic which left SA reeling, an Eastern Cape municipality bought its mayor a car using Covid-19 funds that were meant for the emergency procurement of water and sanitation services.

And in some cases, other municipalities procured personal protective equipment (PPE) but stored it in such poor conditions that it could not be used.

These are just some of the examples auditor-general Tsakani Maluleke highlighted as she released details on how municipalities across SA have mismanaged Covid-19 funds, failed to follow procurement processes and mismanaged contracts once they had been awarded.

June 22 2021 - 14:53

Tighter lockdown restrictions under discussion as Gauteng leaves Cyril Ramaphosa ‘deeply worried’

President Cyril Ramaphosa on Tuesday said the government is considering imposing tighter lockdown restrictions, particularly in Gauteng where the number of Covid-19 infections continues to rise unabated.

“Clearly there seem to be indications we have to increase the measures, particularly in Gauteng, we have imposed or put in place,” said Ramaphosa.

Answering questions in Cape Town after a port visit, Ramaphosa said: “We are in the third wave. The issue of moving onto another level is a matter that is going to be discussed by the national coronavirus command council — the NCCC will meet and make recommendations.”

June 22 2021 - 13:52

'All systems go' as vaccines for teachers are distributed to provinces

The national education department says it is “all systems go” for the rollout of teacher vaccinations from Wednesday. 

Spokesperson Elijah Mhlanga has clarified, however, that the vaccinations will not be administered on school premises.

“The vaccinations are not taking place in schools but at vaccination sites. All the vaccines have arrived in all the provinces and have been distributed to all the centres. We are starting officially tomorrow,” he said on Tuesday.

June 22 2021 - 13:32

‘The situation is bad. It isn’t under control’: Gauteng doctors despair

“People have to stop moving around, start wearing masks and avoid contact with each other.”

While doctors struggle to find beds for the desperately ill, Dr Mary Kawonga, chairperson of the Gauteng premier’s advisory committee on Covid-19, says human behaviour is fuelling the intensity of the third wave of infections in the province.

“There is a high level of transmission in the community. What is concerning to us is that people are moving around a lot. They are moving more than they did during the second wave. There is a lot of contact happening between people,” said Kawonga.

June 22 2021 - 12:20

More than 20 teens at KZN school being tested for Covid-19 after party

Matric pupils who attended a classmates party on Youth Day will only be allowed back at Belverton Secondary School in KwaZulu-Natal on Friday if they produce proof of a negative Covid-19 test result. 

In a letter signed by the schools principal and governing body chairperson, parents were informed that a pupil who attended the party had tested positive.

In the letter posted on the Tongaat schools official Facebook page, the principal and school governing body (SGB) chair said it was with “great regret and disappointment that they learnt a grade 12 pupil hosted a party on Youth Day.

June 22 2021 - 12:20

Covid vaccines increasingly tested on children

The Covid-19 vaccine is now being tested on more young children in clinical trials. Pfizer is set to announce trials on children aged six months to five years.

Moderna has already been testing in that age group since earlier this year.

June 22 2021 - 12:17

Tighter lockdown for Gauteng? Timing will be critical as Covid-19 cases soar

Gauteng’s provincial command council meets on Tuesday to discuss the possibility of imposing more severe lockdown restrictions in the province with the highest rate of Covid-19 infections in SA.  

Gauteng premier David Makhura warned on Monday — as military medical personnel were deployed to fight against the pandemic in the province — that the “house is on fire” as infections continued to soar.

Dr Mary Kawonga, chairperson of the premier’s advisory committee on Covid-19, said they meet every Tuesday but this would be a special meeting as the premier had put stricter lockdown regulations on the agenda.

She was reticent to say what the council would advise ahead of the meeting, and stressed that only the national government could make decisions about stricter regulations. 

June 22 2021 - 12:00

Are you 40 and over? Acting health minister wants you to register soon for the Covid-19 vaccine

Acting health minister Mmamoloko Kubayi-Ngubane says the government is looking at opening the Covid-19 vaccine registration portal for people aged 40 years and older.  

Kubayi-Ngubane said she had received requests from scores of people worried about the increasing number of Covid-19 infections.

She told 702 on Monday that the government was considering the requests and changes would be announced by the end of the week. 

“I have received a request to say we need to consider opening the 40 plus, specifically because they are active, they move and all those things — we are looking at that,” she said. 

June 22 2021 - 11:19

Covid-19: Gauteng is facing ‘mass casualty situation’, says Netcare CEO

Gauteng is bearing the brunt of the increase in Covid-19 cases and right across the board there is an urgent demand for high care beds, Netcare Group CEO Dr Richard Friedland says. 

During an interview on the Money Show with Bruce Whitfield on 702 on Monday, Friedland said the situation is Gauteng was “extremely tough”.

Friedland told the station that the thousands of Covid-19 cases in Gauteng indicated that without “a level 5 lockdown, we may not see the end of the surge for some time to come”.

“If government isn’t going to lock down the Gauteng province, we have to self-regulate ourselves.

June 22 2021 - 11:00

‘The vaccination programme can only succeed if schools are open’ - basic education on calls to shut schools

Basic education spokesperson Elijah Mhlanga has responded to calls for schools to be closed due to an increase in Covid-19 cases, saying the  demands are “irresponsible”.  

Organisations and political parties, including the EFF and the Educators Union of SA, have over the past few weeks called for the department to put teacher’s lives first by shutting down schools. 

June 22 2021 - 10:50

India's vaccination pace seen dwindling from first day record

India's vaccinations over the next few weeks could fall short of the blistering pace set on the first day of a federal campaign, unless it makes inroads in a vast hinterland and bridges a shortage of doses, experts said on Tuesday.

The 8.6 million doses injected on Monday represented a record two-fold jump as India kicked off free inoculation for all adults, reversing a policy for individual states and hospitals to buy vaccines for those aged 18 to 44.

"This is clearly not sustainable," Chandrakant Lahariya, an expert in public policy and health systems, told Reuters.

"With the currently projected vaccine supply for the next few months, the maximum daily achievable rate is 4 million to 5 million a day."

The inoculation effort in the world's second most populous nation had covered just about 5.5% of all the 950 million people eligible, even though India is the world's largest producer of vaccines.

A devastating second wave of infections during April and May overwhelmed medical staff and facilities, killing hundreds of thousands. Images of funeral pyres blazing in car parks and open spaces spurred questions over the chaotic vaccine rollout.

Since May, India has distributed an average of fewer than 3 million doses each day, far less than the 10 million health officials say is crucial to protect the millions vulnerable to new surges.

Reuters

June 22 2021 - 10:45

Russia reports most Covid-19 deaths in a single day since February

Russia on Tuesday reported 546 coronavirus-related deaths, the most confirmed in a single day since February, amid a surge in new cases that authorities have blamed on the new Delta variant.

The government coronavirus taskforce confirmed 16,715 new cases in the last 24 hours, including 6,555 in Moscow, taking the national case total to 5,350,919 since the pandemic began. 

Reuters

June 22 2021 - 10:35

Abu Dhabi opens up free Covid-19 vaccines to tourists

Abu Dhabi, the capital of the United Arab Emirates, is offering tourists free Covid-19 vaccinations that were previously restricted to UAE citizens and residency visa holders.

There is no indication that the change applies to Dubai, the most populous emirate, or the other five emirates that make up the UAE.

Visitors with visas issued by Abu Dhabi and passport holders eligible for tourist visas when they arrive in the UAE through Abu Dhabi can book free vaccines, according to information provided by the Abu Dhabi Health Services Company (SEHA), which operates the emirate's public health infrastructure.

Holders of expired residency or entry visas are also eligible for free vaccinations, Abu Dhabi Media Office said on June 11.

Job losses and travel restrictions during the pandemic mean some people's residency visas have expired or have been cancelled when they were made redundant.

UAE Health authorities said this month nearly 85% of the eligible population had received at least one vaccine dose, but did not say how many had had two doses.

Infections have risen in the UAE in the past month, and Abu Dhabi still has restrictions on entry, including home quarantine and PCR testing at intervals after arrival. People driving from other emirates are tested to show they are not infected.

Travellers from 27 countries including China, Germany and the United States can enter without quarantine on arrival.

SEHA offers Covid-19 vaccines by China's state-owned drugmaker Sinopharm and by Pfizer/BioNTech in Abu Dhabi.

Dubai Media Office did not immediately respond to a request for comment on whether eligibility criteria was to change. Dubai Health Authority information says vaccines are given only to citizens and holders of valid Dubai residency visas.

Reuters

June 22 2021 - 08:30

Philippines community raffles off bags of rice to boost vaccine drive

A community in the Philippines has been raffling off huge sacks of rice in exchange for getting vaccinated against Covid-19, after finding it hard to persuade people to get their shots.

Twenty weekly winners who get their shots in Sucat on the outskirts of the capital Manila have been taking home a 25 kg (55 pound) sack of rice each.

Local official Jeramel Mendoza said the initiative was targeting mainly poorer residents, who were not so keen on vaccinations.

"Initially, when we conducted our vaccination drive, there were very few people signing up. So we asked ourselves why?" he said."

Why are those rich people or those who live in exclusive villages able to lead the vaccinations, but our poorer sectors do not to join in or participate?"

Sucat village officials said since starting the initiative at end-May, they have been administering their daily quota of vaccines of up to 2,000 doses, whereas before they were giving only about 400 doses a day.

"It's a nice initiative and I feel safer after being vaccinated. I'm happy I got vaccinated while winning some rice," said Almond Gregorio, a firefighter and holder of a winning raffle ticket.

Reuters

June 22 2021 - 08:00

Mandatory mask rules extended in Sydney as Covid-19 cluster grows

Australia's most populous state, New South Wales (NSW), on Tuesday reported its biggest rise in new locally acquired Covid-19 cases in nearly a week, prompting authorities to extend a mask mandate in Sydney for a week.

Ten new locally acquired cases were reported in NSW on Tuesday, as officials fight to contain a latest cluster of the highly infectious Delta virus variant. Eight of the 10 are household contacts of previous cases in isolation.

"There is no doubt there is an increased level of concern, given the additional numbers of cases, but ... given how absolutely contagious the virus is, we expected household contacts already in isolation were likely to get the virus," NSW state Premier Gladys Berejiklian told reporters in Sydney.

Masks will be mandatory indoors in Sydney, Australia's largest city, for another week from Thursday morning although officials stopped short of announcing further curbs as the cluster increased to 21 infections in six days.

"At this stage, we feel that the response we are having is proportionate to the risk," Berejiklian said, although she expects more cases among household contacts.

The Delta variant, which has been classified by the World Health Organization (WHO) as among the four Covid-19 variants of concern, most likely caused the latest devastating outbreak in India.

Tuesday's data includes seven cases recorded after the 8 p.m. cut-off deadline, which will be included in Wednesday's numbers.

Authorities say the latest outbreak, the first in the state in more than a month, is linked to a driver who transports overseas airline crew members and then later visited several venues, including a shopping centre in Bondi, a popular tourist hotspot.

Reuters

June 22 2021 - 07:30

The coronavirus Delta variant definitely spreads more easily... than the other variants: Physician

Dr. Brian Garibaldi, Johns Hopkins Biocontainment Unit medical director, joined Yahoo Finance Live to break down his thoughts on the delta variant of COVID-19 and how the variant will impact reopening.

June 22 2021 - 07:00

'That's the way science works': Fauci fires back at critics

Dr. Anthony Fauci responds to critics who claim he is flip-flopping on his Covid-19 guidance on a New York Times podcast with Kara Swisher.

June 22 2021 - 06:20

China reports 25 new Covid-19 cases vs 17 the day before

China reported 25 new confirmed Covid-19 cases in the mainland for June 21, up from 17 infections a day earlier, the health authority said on Tuesday.

Of the new cases, two were local infections in southern Guangdong province, while the rest were imported cases, the National Health Commission said.

The number of new asymptomatic infections rose to 27 from 19 a day earlier. China does not classify them as confirmed cases.

The total number of confirmed Covid-19 cases in mainland China reached 91,629 by the end of June 21, with the death toll unchanged at 4,636.

Reuters

June 22 2021 - 06:15

India reports 42,640 new Covid-19 cases, 1,167 deaths

India reported on Tuesday 42,640 new Covid-19 infections over the past 24 hours, data from the health ministry showed.

The South Asian country's total Covid-19 case load now stands at 29.98 million, while total fatalities are at 389,302, the data showed. India's coronavirus-related deaths rose by 1,167 overnight. 

Reuters

June 22 2021 - 06:10

Cake in the face: birthdays push up Covid risk by 30%

When people celebrate their birthdays without practising Covid precautions, coronavirus celebrates its own propagation.

Households with recent birthdays were 30% more likely to have a Covid-19 infection, compared to those with no birthdays, a new study by Harvard Medical School, in the US, found.

“These gatherings are an important part of the social fabric that holds together families and society as a whole. However, as we show, in high-risk areas, they can also expose households to Covid-19 infections,” said the senior author Prof Anupam Jena, a public health policy specialist at Harvard.

June 22 2021 - 06:00

EDITORIAL | Schools should be closed in the hardest-hit Covid-19 areas

To keep schools open or not to keep schools open: that is the question. Not even Shakespeare, who penned the famous “to be, or not to be”, would have had a simple answer.

Basic education minister Angie Motshekga on Saturday announced SA would go with the former option. Is it the right decision to do so during the worst Covid-19 wave to hit our shores? It is a complex matter with many factors to consider before coming to a conclusion.

There are two main reasons Motshekga seems to believe it is the right move. Out of more than 25,500 schools, only about 100 have experienced a worrying number of infections. “Let’s handle the matter case by case,” she said. In light of the loss of education children have suffered since March 2020, “people shouldn’t expect us to shut down the system”.

Many pupils are busy with midyear assessments and it would be disruptive to halt that. The second point revolves around teacher vaccinations starting this week, offering some hope of protection for our educators. Motshekga said more than 580,000 staff at public and private schools would be vaccinated between Wednesday and July 8. 

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