COVID-19 WRAP | SA records 5,644 Covid-19 cases and 235 deaths in 24 hours

30 August 2021 - 06:39
By TimesLIVE
Elementary school students wearing face masks wash their hands after a class as schools reopen on trial basis after the government extended restrictions to curb the spread of coronavirus disease (Covid-19) in Jakarta, Indonesia, August 30, 2021.
Image: REUTERS/Ajeng Dinar Ulfiana Elementary school students wearing face masks wash their hands after a class as schools reopen on trial basis after the government extended restrictions to curb the spread of coronavirus disease (Covid-19) in Jakarta, Indonesia, August 30, 2021.

August 30 2021 - 20:15

New Covid-19 variant not a threat to vaccine efficacy, say scientists

The new Covid-19 variant announced in SA is highly unlikely to stop currently administered vaccines from preventing severe disease and death.

This is according to specialist scientists at the National Institute for Communicable Disease, who held a press conference on Thursday night to reassure the public that they are keeping an eye on the new variant.

However, they said there was no reason to believe the variant — dubbed C.1.2 — will disrupt the efficacy of either the J&J or the Pfizer vaccine, both of which are being rolled out in the country.

August 30 2021 - 19:56

SA records 5,644 Covid-19 cases and 235 deaths in 24 hours

SA recorded 5,644 new Covid-19 cases in the past 24 hours, the National Institute for Communicable Diseases said on Monday.

The majority of the new cases were recorded in KwaZulu-Natal (1,982), followed by the Eastern Cape (931) and Gauteng (903) — taking the total number of infections recorded to date to 2,770,575.

The NICD also reported that there were 235 new Covid-19 related deaths recorded in the past 24 hours, taking the total number of fatalities to 81,830 to date.

August 30 2021  - 13:40

Collecting your R350 grant? Don't pay scammers for a spot in the queue

The SA Post Office (Sapo) has warned beneficiaries of the R350 Covid-19 social relief of distress grant not to fall for a scam promising to get them a spot in line. 

More than 10-million people have applied for the grant, with the SA Social Security Agency (Sassa) set to pay out R2.1bn this month alone. The agency told TimesLIVE at least 6-million beneficiaries will receive their first payment by the end of the month.

In a statement sent to TimesLIVE on Monday, the Post Office said it had “become aware of instances where self-appointed queue marshals ask customers who visit their branches a fee for a place in the front of the queue”.  

August 30 2021  - 12:54

Covid-19 ‘Wuhan lab leak theory’ is a fabrication, says China’s ambassador to SA

The Embassy of China in SA has described the “Wuhan lab leak theory” regarding the origins of the Covid-19 pandemic as a complete fabrication.

The embassy held a virtual briefing to address the issue on Monday.

China’s ambassador to SA Chen Xiaodong said the country had nothing to hide and had been open and transparent about origin-tracing.

He said the US government wanted to use origin-tracing to smear and attack China.

“The Chinese invited the World Health Organisation (WHO) twice, in July last year and March this year respectively, for origin-tracing in China and we fully supported the WHO expert team’s work.

August 30 2021  - 12:27

Worrying new variant gaining traction in SA and abroad, says expert

“The constellations of mutations worry us.”

These aren’t the words one wants to hear from SA’s foremost genome fundi, who is keeping tabs on coronavirus variants worldwide.

But Prof Tulio de Oliveira, director of the KwaZulu-Natal Research Innovation and Sequencing Platform (Krisp) at the University of KwaZulu-Natal (UKZN), has sounded the alarm on what’s being called C.1.2 which has been detected in SA and elsewhere. 

August 30 2021  - 09:59

1.3-million people fully vaccinated in Gauteng, as province reaches 3-million milestone

Gauteng has administered 3-million vaccines, the health department says, as the inoculation rollout expands through partnerships with the private sector and faith-based organisations.

Gauteng has 1,310,372 people who are fully vaccinated.

The province also saw a new record of 75,683 inoculations on a single day on Friday.

Health MEC Dr Nomathemba Mokgethi said while the provincial government welcomes the milestones, “we still need to move with speed to vaccinate as many people as possible ahead of the anticipated fourth wave of Covid-19".

August 30 2021  - 09:00

Sassa pleads with R350 grant applicants to wait for SMS before heading to a post office

The SA Social Security Agency (Sassa) has pleaded with recipients of the R350 social relief of distress grant to not flock to post offices to collect their payments before receiving an SMS.  

The agency kick-started the first batch of the payments last Wednesday after the grant was reinstated for the second phase of payouts last month. 

Speaking on SABC News recently, Sassa spokesperson Paseka Letsatsi said applicants who did not provide their banking details when applying for the grant should wait for an SMS notifying them about payment collection at post office. 

August 30 2021  - 08:00

Covid-19 infections on the rise in KZN — here’s what is being done to prevent further spread

KwaZulu-Natal premier Sihle Zikalala said on Sunday the provincial government was faced with the challenge of rising Covid-19 infections.

He said the provincial government had also noted a worrying trend of children getting infected with Covid-19 during the third wave.

Cumulative cases in KwaZulu-Natal stand at 476,193, according to the latest figures from the health department. 

Here’s how the province is strengthening its fight against Covid-19:

August 30 2021  - 07:00

Where can I volunteer to assist with the vaccine rollout?

The health department is running a programme  in which citizens can volunteer to assist with the vaccine rollout at designated sites.  

The Vaccine4HealthCare Workers platform has provided a registration portal for people to register as volunteers at vaccination sites. 

The volunteer initiative was initially for healthcare workers who received their vaccine jabs via the Sisonke trial and wanted to give back. 

Any interested citizens can now register to help government ramp up the vaccine rollout.

August 30 2021  - 06:45

Losing a year is like losing fingers, says Angie, who still wants distancing rule reduced

Basic education minister Angie Motshekga is still determined to reduce the social distancing requirement in primary schools from 1m to half a metre so more children can attend classes daily.

This comes despite a rejection by teacher unions of her proposal early this month.

Giving an update on the basic education sector’s response to the affect of Covid-19 on schooling during a media briefing on Sunday, she said they did not ask the department of health for a further reduction from 1m to 0.5m because of high levels of infection in the third wave.

“We hoped we could get 0.5m for the foundation phase [grades R to 3] to create more space because when they play at home they play head to head. But the third wave discouraged us from even pursuing the half-metre because in some areas there’s still high levels of infections.”

August 30 2021  - 06:24

New Zealand reports first death linked to Pfizer Covid-19 vaccine

New Zealand on Monday reported what authorities said was the country's first recorded death linked to the Pfizer Covid-19 vaccine. 

The information was released by the health ministry following a review by an independent Covid-19 vaccine safety monitoring board of the death of a woman after receiving the vaccine. The ministry's statement did not give the woman's age.

The board considered that the woman’s death was due to myocarditis, which is known to be a rare side effect of the Pfizer Covid-19 vaccine, the statement said. Myocarditis is an inflammation of the heart muscle that can limit the organ's ability to pump blood and can cause changes in heartbeat rhythms.

August 30 2021  - 06:00

Japan's Gunma prefecture reports contaminant in Moderna Covid-19 vaccine

A contaminant was found in Moderna's Covid-19 vaccine on Sunday in Japan's Gunma prefecture, near Tokyo, the latest such case in the country involving the US company's vaccines.

A tiny, black substance was found in a Moderna Inc vaccine vial, prompting the prefecture to suspend inoculation using vaccines from the Moderna lot from which the vial had come, a Gunma prefecture official said.

Japan's health ministry said on Saturday two people died after receiving Moderna's vaccine shots that were among lots later suspended following the discovery of contaminants.

The government had said that no safety or efficacy issues had been identified and that the suspension was a precaution. The causes of death are being investigated.

Last week, Japan halted the use of 1.63 million Moderna doses, shipped to 863 vaccination centres nationwide, after the domestic distributor, Takeda Pharmaceutical, received reports of contaminants in some vials.

Moderna and Spanish pharma company Rovi, which bottles Moderna vaccines for markets other than the United States, had said at the time that the contamination could be due to a manufacturing issue in one of Rovi's production lines.

The vaccine in question in Gunma is from a Moderna lot that is different from those whose use has already been suspended, the Gunma official said.

Vaccines from the same lot have been administered to 4,575 people in Gunma, but the prefecture has heard no reports of ill health, the official said.

Contaminants were found in Moderna vaccines in Japan's southern prefecture of Okinawa, as well.