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COVID-19 WRAP | SA records 14,271 new Covid-19 cases in 24 hours

12 August 2021 - 06:10 By TimesLIVE
Masked pupils in Hanover Park, Cape Town, embrace the school day, something they could have done all along, say researchers.
Masked pupils in Hanover Park, Cape Town, embrace the school day, something they could have done all along, say researchers.
Image: Esa Alexander/ File photo

August 12 2021 — 20:14

Covid-19 cases in WC and KZN push SA to 14,271 new infections in 24 hours

Driven largely by new cases in the Western Cape and KwaZulu-Natal, there were 14,271 new Covid-19 cases recorded across SA in the past 24 hours.

The National Institute for Communicable Diseases (NICD) said on Thursday that 3,701 of the new cases were recorded in the Western Cape, followed by 3,603 in KZN. There were 2,259 new cases recorded in Gauteng. The Eastern Cape was the only other province to record more than 1,000 new cases in the past 24 hours, with 1,546 infections.

August 12 2021 — 14:00

EU looks into Pfizer, Moderna vaccine side effects

Europe's drugs regulator said it was looking into three new conditions reported by a small number of people after vaccination with Covid-19 shots from Pfizer and Moderna to assess if they may have possible side-effects

August 12 2021 — 13:40

South Korea turns Covid-19 testing booth contactless

A South Korean hospital has upgraded a Covid-19 testing booth to become a mobile contactless clinic that can test people and enable telemedicine for basic treatment.

Hallym University Sacred Heart Hospital says it has developed the one-stop clinic to protect staff and free them from the burden of wearing full-body protective gear in the sweltering heat.

Patients enter rooms that seal automatically to reduce the spread of pathogens. Nurses reach patients through windows fitted with rubber gloves, while doctors can speak remotely through video systems.

Previously, patients with fever or respiratory symptoms had to wait long hours to gain access to a doctor and had to be isolated.

"It was very difficult for people with fever or respiratory symptoms to receive professional treatment due to Covid, and we could solve such a problem using video chat," Hallym University Medical Center director Lee Me-yeon said. "It was hard to see and hear patients clearly in full protective gear.

"A minimum number of nurses like Joung Eun-sol, 23, are needed on site for basic Covid-19 testing or temperature checks and they no longer need to put on Level D protection gear - gloves, safety glasses, face shield and chemical-resistant boots.

"The worst was withstanding the heat, but it was also hard to communicate with patients or breathe in Level D," Joung told Reuters on Thursday, wearing a short-sleeved uniform and a face mask.

"I can now use the restroom and even eat... I don't need to walk around all the time, but be seated as I work.

"Hallym University Sacred Heart Hospital Director Yu Kyung-ho said: "The technology could possibly serve as a very useful medical treatment system in countries where doctors and medical resources are scarce."


August 12 2021 — 13:31

Cambodia starts vaccine booster drive to shore up Covid-19 defence

 Cambodia started offering coronavirus vaccine booster shots on Thursday in a renewed public health drive after managing to inoculate more than half of its population.

One of Asia's poorest countries, Cambodia is offering the AstraZeneca vaccine as a third shot to those who have received the inactivated virus vaccines developed by Sinopharm and Sinovac, with the aim of bolstering immunity against the COVID-19 Delta variant.

"This is for all of us to fight together and if all of us get the vaccination then we can stop the spread," said nurse Touch Phavana, 56, who was receiving a booster."

It can prevent severe illnesses for the patients who get infected, so it is easier for us to treat them or save their lives."

Cambodia has recorded nearly 84,000 cases and more than 1,600 deaths from the coronavirus.

It has administered at least one vaccine dose to half of its population, among the highest rates in Asia, with vaccine diplomacy playing a key part in its success.

Priorities for the boosters are medical staff, government employees and frontline workers.

The country has benefited from its relatively small population of just over 16 million and a low-income status making it eligible for the COVAX vaccine-sharing initiative.

It has received vaccine donations from regional ally China, and subsequently, Beijing's geopolitical rivals Japan, Britain and the United States.

"I hope that when we finish this third dose of vaccines, then firstly we can reopen the schools for our children to study in class again, so we get our workforce back," said bank worker Try Sokhim, 26."Second, we can get our tourism industry up again." 


August 12 2021 — 13:00

Growing calls for vaccine mandates for health workers

About one in four hospitals in the US now requires their staff to get a jab against COVID-19. Already, in states such as New York, California and Washington vaccinations are compulsory for healthcare workers.

That leaves front-line staff with increasingly little choice but to get the shots - or ditch their jobs.

August 12 2021 — 12:30

Covid-19 outbreaks at 89 schools in Eastern Cape

Eastern Cape health MEC Nomakhosazana Meth says pupils at 89 schools in the province had been infected with Covid-19 in the space of seven days. 

The MEC, giving a briefing about the pandemic and vaccination rollout on Wednesday, said there were 7,370 active cases in the province.

The province had seen an increase in Covid-19 cases with 4,886 new cases reported in the first week of August — 13% higher than cases reported in the previous week at the end of July.

August 12 2021 — 11:36

Sydney to tighten Covid-19 curbs, Australian capital to enter lockdown

Extra Australian military personnel may be called in to ensure compliance with lockdown rules in Sydney, the New South Wales state government said on Thursday, as the highly infectious Delta coronavirus variant spreads into regional areas.

The move comes as Australia's capital city, Canberra, 260 km (160 miles) southwest of Sydney, announced a snap one-week lockdown from Thursday evening after reporting its first locally acquired case of Covid-19 in more than a year.

Authorities later confirmed an additional three cases, all close contacts of the first case, an unnamed man.

Australia is battling to get on top of the fast-moving Delta strain that has plunged its two largest cities - Sydney and Melbourne - into hard lockdowns.

"We are making sure that we do not leave any stone unturned in relation to extra (military) resources," New South Wales (NSW) state Premier Gladys Berejiklian said at a media conference in Sydney, the state capital.

Some 580 unarmed army personnel are already helping police enforce home-quarantine orders on affected households in the worst-affected suburbs of Sydney, Australia's most populous city.


August 12 2021 — 10:55

Major container ports in eastern China see worsening congestion after Covid-19 cases

Congestion off China's top two container ports Shanghai and Ningbo is worsening following the shutdown of a container terminal in Ningbo where a Covid-19 case was detected this week.

Tighter restrictions to fight China's latest coronavirus outbreak are starting to hit more parts of the economy. The highly transmissible Delta variant has been detected in more than a dozen cities since late July.

Forty container vessels were waiting at the outer Zhoushan anchorage on Thursday, up from 30 on Aug. 10 when a worker at the Meidong container terminal tested positive for Covid-19, data tracked by Refinitiv showed.

Meidong terminal has suspended all operations since early Wednesday, while other terminals in Ningbo imposed restrictions limiting the number of people and cargos entering port areas.

Shipping company CMA CGM put out a note on Thursday saying that some vessels will be re-routed to Shanghai or skip port calls at Ningbo. Hapag-Lloyd expects the suspension in Meidong to cause delays in some planned sailings, according to a company statement.

Ports in nearby Shanghai, where many vessels are being re-routed, are seeing the worst congestion in at least three years. About 30 vessels are queuing outside Yangshan port, a key container terminal in Shanghai, Refinitiv data showed.

Ports in eastern China have been resuming operations and clearing backlogs following typhoon In-Fa, which dented container handling volume by 10% in late July from the same period last year, according to data from China Ports and Harbours Association.

The latest jams follow massive disruptions to container handling in southern China in June, when ports near Shenzhen imposed stringent Covid-19 containment measures leading to dozens of container vessels stuck in traffic.

The latest wave of port congestion in eastern China could further drive up container shipping rates, which recently topped $20,000 per 40-foot box for the first time on the critical China-US route as rising retailer orders ahead of the peak US shopping season added strain to global supply chains.


August 12 2021 — 10:45

Age restrictions on AstraZeneca shot have ended reports of rare clots — UK scientists

No new cases of a rare and severe blood clots following vaccination with AstraZeneca's Covid-19 shot have been reported in Britain in recent weeks after a decision to restrict its use in under-40s, British scientists said on Wednesday. 

Vaccine-induced immune thrombocytopenia and thrombosis (VITT) is a combination of blot clots and low platelet levels which has been labelled as a rare side effect of the viral vector Covid-19 vaccines made by AstraZeneca and Johnson & Johnson .

August 12 2021 — 10:00

German nurse may have switched thousands of vaccine shots

Authorities in northern Germany appealed to thousands of people on Tuesday to get another shot of Covid-19 vaccine after a police investigation found that a Red Cross nurse may have injected them with a saline solution. 

The nurse is suspected of injecting salt solution into people's arms instead of genuine doses at a vaccination centre in Friesland — a rural district near the North Sea coast — in the early spring.

“I am totally shocked by this episode,” Sven Ambrosy, a local councillor, said on Facebook as local authorities issued the call to around 8,600 residents who may have been affected.

August 12 2021 — 09:34

Tributes pour in as Cape nurse loses devoted husband to Covid-19

Six months after she vaccinated President Cyril Ramaphosa and saved many against Covid-19 complications through inoculation, Cape Town nurse Milanie Bennett felt the sting of Covid-19 when her husband, Langley Bennett, succumbed to the virus. 

This week friends and relatives took to social media to pay tribute to the former insurance consultant after he died at a Cape Town hospital due to Covid-19 complications on Monday, leaving behind Milanie and their young son, Noah. He was 45.

August 12 2021 — 07:45

New Zealand to let in vaccinated travellers in 2022

New Zealand plans to allow quarantine-free entry to vaccinated travellers from low-risk countries from early next year, as part of a phased reopening of its borders that were shut last year due to the pandemic.

August 12 2021 — 07:00

Is it safe to get vaccinated if your immune system is compromised by other medical conditions?

Former chair of the ministerial advisory committee on Covid-19, Prof Salim Abdool Karim, has stressed that individuals whose immune systems are compromised by other medical conditions should get vaccinated.

Speaking on Newzroom Afrika this week, Abdool Karim said it was safe for individuals who have medical conditions such as cancer, HIV, lymphoma, or are undergoing chemotherapy to get vaccinated.

“It is perfectly safe but it's actually something even more important. It is critically important that individuals who are immunocompromised get vaccinated,” he said.

August 12 2021 — 06:10

Mask, vaccine battles intensify as schools resume

Masks have become a divisive issue in the US, often splitting the country along political lines, despite near universal agreement among health experts that they can limit the spread of Covid-19.

August 12 2021 — 06:00

Children, here are your most important Covid-19 questions answered

Prof Salim Abdool Karim is an infectious disease expert. On Tuesday this week, he spoke to a young radio host named Alex White, who is just 18 years old and who works with RX Radio which can be heard in children's hospital wards across the country.