COVID-19 WRAP | NICD says next week is key to knowing if SA has past third wave peak

20 July 2021 - 06:15 By TimesLIVE
A researcher works inside a laboratory during the development of the Italian ReiThera Covid-19 vaccine, in this undated handout photo in Rome, Italy.
A researcher works inside a laboratory during the development of the Italian ReiThera Covid-19 vaccine, in this undated handout photo in Rome, Italy.
Image: REITHERA/Handout via REUTERS/File Photo

July 20 2021 - 21:40

NICD says next week is key to knowing if SA has past third wave peak, as 596 new deaths are recorded

The coming week will be crucial to knowing whether SA had passed the peak of the Covid-19 third wave.

This is according to the head of the public health surveillance and response division at the NICD, Dr Michelle Groome, on Tuesday.

She was speaking as SA recorded 8,929 new Covid-19 infections and 596 fatalities in the past 24 hours. This means that there have now been 2,311,232 cases and 67,676 deaths recorded to date.

July 20 2021 - 16:25

Elections should be postponed to 2022 or they will be flawed, says Moseneke

Former deputy chief justice Dikgang Moseneke says local government elections scheduled for October 27 this year will not be free and fair under Covid-19 conditions. 

As a result, they must be postponed to February next year.

Handing over his final report on Tuesday on the feasibility of conducting the elections, Moseneke said his inquiry had considered extremely opposing views from stakeholders including health experts, civil society, political parties, business and labour organisations.  

He said the commission had been tasked with a heavy responsibility and faced a conundrum between balancing the right to life and the democratic right to vote.

July 20 2021 - 14:30

India's excess deaths during pandemic up to 4.9 million, study shows

India's excess deaths during the Covid-19 pandemic could be as high as 4.9 million, according to a new study that provides further evidence that millions more may have died from coronavirus than the official tally.

The report by the Washington-based Center for Global Development, co-authored by India's former chief economic adviser Arvind Subramanian, included deaths from all causes since the pandemic's start through June 2021.

India has officially reported more than 414,000 deaths due to Covid-19, the third highest tally in the world after the United States and Brazil, but the study adds to growing calls from experts for a rigorous nationwide fatality audit.

A devastating rise in infections in April and May, driven largely by the more infectious and dangerous Delta variant, overwhelmed India's healthcare system and killed at least 170,000 people in May alone, according to official data.

"What is tragically clear is that too many people, in the millions rather than hundreds of thousands, may have died," the report said, estimating the excess death toll during the pandemic at between 3.4 million and 4.9 million.

The report did not ascribe all the excess deaths to the pandemic.

"We focus on all-cause mortality, and estimate excess mortality relative to a pre-pandemic baseline, adjusting for seasonality," it said.

India's health ministry did not immediately respond to a Reuters email seeking comment.

Some experts have said excess deaths are the best way to measure the real toll from Covid-19.


July 20 2021 - 14:20

India govt survey shows two thirds have coronavirus antibodies

Two thirds of India's population have antibodies against the coronavirus, the health agency chief said on Tuesday, citing the fourth national sero survey of nearly 29,000 people conducted during June and July. 


July 20 2021 - 13:00

Top brewers toast easing of pandemic curbs with zero alcohol beer

While many drinkers may celebrate the easing of pandemic restrictions with a beer or glass of wine, the world's biggest brewers will be urging them to try new zero alcohol lagers.

Having lost market share to craft beers and hard seltzers - or alcoholic fizzy water - top brewers like AB InBev and Heineken are betting on a new generation of non-alcoholic beers to help regain ground by tapping into healthy-living trends.

But the pandemic cancelled business lunches, emptied sports facilities and left no one driving back from parties or bars - all prime territories for sales of zero alcohol drinks.

Global non-alcohol beer sales fell 4.6% in 2020 in value terms to $11.6 billion after 9% average annual growth in the previous four years, according to market research provider Euromonitor International.

The ending of restrictions in the United States and Europe is now making it easier for brewers to get drinkers to try out new zero alcohol versions of their top-selling brands - something they believe will be crucial to ramping up sales."


July 20 2021 - 12:30

Covid-19 pandemic has reduced life expectancy, says Stats SA

A Stats SA report has revealed the Covid-19 pandemic has reduced life expectancy among South Africans since the country registered its first case in March 2020. 

SA has experienced two waves of infections and is currently battling a third dominated by the highly transmittable Delta variant.

According to the report, deaths in the first and second waves led to an increase in the crude death rate (CDR). This indicates the number of deaths per 1,000 in a given year.

The CDR rate went from 8.8 per 1,000 people in 2020 to 11.6 per 1,000 people. This indicates an increase of about 34%, states the report. ​

Life expectancy at birth for males declined from 62.4 years in 2020 to 59.3 in 2021 (3.1 year drop) and from 68.4 years in 2020 to 64.6 for females (3.8 year drop).

July 20 2021 - 10:30

Mask mandate returns to Los Angeles

Los Angeles County will reimpose its mask mandate this weekend in the latest sign that public health officials are struggling with an alarming rise in coronavirus cases tied to the highly contagious Delta variant.

July 20 2021 - 10:00

Canada to admit vaccinated US tourists

Canada said it would allow fully vaccinated U.S. tourists into the country starting from August 9 after the Covid-19 pandemic forced an unprecedented 16-month ban that many businesses complained was crippling them.

July 20 2021 - 09:30

First US-donated vaccines arrive in Ethiopia

A shipment of vaccines, part of 80 million doses donated globally by the U.S., arrived in Ethiopia as several African countries grapple with a third wave of Covid-19 infections.

July 20 2021 - 09:00

US coronavirus cases rise, fueling fears of resurgence

A rapid increase in coronavirus cases in the United States and abroad is fueling fears of a pandemic resurgence as the highly contagious Delta variant takes hold and vaccinations lag in several states.

July 20 2021 - 08:19

Olympic Village Covid-19 infection bubble already 'broken' — health expert

The so-called bubble to control Covid-19 infections at the Olympic Athlete's Village in Tokyo is already “broken” and poses a risk of spreading infections to the general populace, a prominent public health expert said on Tuesday. 

Games officials on Sunday reported the first Covid-19 case among competitors in the athletes' village in Tokyo where 11,000 athletes are expected to stay. Since July 2, Tokyo 2020 organisers have reported 58 positive cases among athletes, officials and journalists.

“It's obvious that the bubble system is kind of broken,” said Kenji Shibuya, the former director of the Institute for Population Health at King's College London.

“My biggest concern is, of course, there will be a cluster of infections in the village or some of the accommodation and interaction with local people.”

July 20 2021 - 08:00

How Gift of the Givers Covid-19 care centre is trying to ease the pressure on Gauteng's hospitals

Twenty doctors, the majority of them juniors, and five senior doctors will be helping at the Lenasia facility on a rotational basis without pay.

July 20 2021 - 07:11

I have just recovered from Covid-19, how long should I wait before being vaccinated?

You have just recovered from Covid-19, can you now finally get the vaccine to help prevent you getting it again? 

While millions across the country are expected to line up for the jab, authorities caution against getting the vaccine too soon after recovering from a bout of Covid-19.

July 20 2021 - 07:00

'They think they are safe': Doc issues chilling warning as people taking ivermectin continue to die

A leading pulmonologist has issued a stark warning that all the patients now admitted to his clinic thought ivermectin would protect them from contracting Covid-19. 

In a chilling Facebook post, Dr Emmanuel Taban, a pulmonologist at Mediclinic Midstream in Midrand, wrote that two out of every three patients now being admitted to the hospital were taking ivermectin which, he added, offered “no benefit at all”.

While 80% of the patients admitted to the clinic during the first wave were black, of the 102 patients now admitted, 92 are white as a third wave of infections continues to roil across SA.

“Most of these patients have been taking ivermectin which was prescribed by doctors and as a result they feel protected,” he said.

He warned  that people using the drug — which is an anti-parasitic medication meant for animals — believed they were safe from contracting Covid-19 which in turn led to unsafe behaviour such as not wearing masks or sanitising their hands. 

July 20 2021 - 06:40

India's 30,093 new Covid-19 cases are lowest daily figure in 4 months

India reported on Tuesday 30,093 new coronavirus infections in the last 24 hours, health ministry data showed, the lowest such figure in four months.

India's tally of infections stands at 406,130, the data showed, with the death toll rising by 374.


July 20 2021 - 06:20

China reports spike in new coronavirus cases on border with Myanmar

China on Tuesday reported the highest daily tally of new confirmed Covid-19 cases since January, driven by a surge in imported infections in Yunnan province, where cases are spilling over from an "alarming spike" in neighbouring Myanmar.

Mainland China recorded 65 new confirmed cases for July 19, compared with 31 a day earlier, the National Health Commission said in a statement. That was the most since Jan. 30, when 92 new cases were reported.

Imported infections accounted for most of the new cases reported for July 19, with Yunnan reporting 41 new cases originating from abroad, all of whom were Chinese nationals who recently returned from Myanmar.

The United Nations has said it is stepping up efforts to fight an "alarming spike" in infections in military-run Myanmar. The country registered a record 281 Covid-19 deaths on Monday, and 5,189 new infections, state-run MRTV Television reported.


July 20 2021 - 06:10

Indonesians celebrate Eid al-Adha festival under Covid-19 curbs

Millions of Muslims in Indonesia on Tuesday celebrated Eid al-Adha, one of the most important Islamic festivals, as President Joko Widodo pledged that tighter coronavirus restrictions would remain in place until infections dropped.

Indonesian Muslims offer Eid al-Adha prayers at the mosque amid a surge of coronavirus disease (Covid-19) cases in Bogor, on the outskirts of Jakarta, Indonesia, July 20, 2021.
Indonesian Muslims offer Eid al-Adha prayers at the mosque amid a surge of coronavirus disease (Covid-19) cases in Bogor, on the outskirts of Jakarta, Indonesia, July 20, 2021.
Image: REUTERS/Ajeng Dinar Ulfiana

Covid-19 cases in Indonesia are currently among the highest in the world due to the rapid spread of the Delta variant, despite the imposition since early this month of the strictest mobility restrictions so far during the pandemic.

Jokowi, as the president is widely known, advised Indonesians to celebrate Eid al-Adha at home following strict health protocols to prevent infections.

Police and transport authorities have also set up checkpoints to prevent travel in the world's largest Muslim majority nation.

In a streamed statement on the eve of the holiday, Jokowi said movement restrictions will only be lifted once cases have dropped, noting new variants meant the pandemic was not over.

"Imagine if this restriction is loosened and then the cases increase again and the hospitals are unable to contain the patients. This would cause our health facilities to collapse," he said.

The health system in some areas has been pushed to breaking point by a deluge of patients and on Monday Indonesia reported a record 1,338 coronavirus deaths.


July 20 2021 - 06:00

Australia's Covid-19 lockdowns expand as Delta variant spreads

A third Australian state announced lockdown rules on Tuesday to combat the Covid-19 Delta variant spread, with South Australia entering week-long restrictions, joining an extended lockdown in Victoria and a five-week shutdown in Sydney.

Australia's most populous state New South Wales (NSW), of which Sydney is the capital, is battling the worst Covid-19 outbreak of this year, with total cases exceeding 1,400 since the first case was reported more than a month ago in a limousine driver who transported overseas airline crew.

NSW authorities reported a slight slowdown in new cases on Tuesday as infections fell to 78 from 98 a day earlier as Sydney and some surrounding areas endure a fourth week of lockdown.

At least 21 of the new cases were infectious while still in the community, a number that authorities said must be close to zero in order for lockdown restrictions to be lifted.

"We are seeing more hospitalisations, more admissions to ICU, more people on ventilators - we have to stop the spread of Covid," NSW Chief Health Officer Kerry Chant said in Sydney on Tuesday, referring to intensive care units (ICU).

Ninety-five Covid-19 cases are now in hospitals in NSW, with 27 in intensive care, 11 of whom are on ventilators. Five deaths have been reported during the latest outbreak.

Australia has used a system of lockdowns, tough social distancing rules and swift contact tracing to suppress the infection rate to a fraction of the levels recorded in other jurisdictions, including the United Kingdom and United States.

Since the pandemic began, it has reported just over 32,000 Covid-19 cases and 915 deaths.