COVID-19 WRAP | 'Sustained downward trend': SA records 2,200 new Covid-19 cases and 160 deaths in 24 hours

21 September 2021 - 06:10 By TimesLIVE
A man receives a dose of the AstraZeneca coronavirus disease (Covid-19) vaccine, as the outbreak continues in Managua, Nicaragua September 20, 2021.
A man receives a dose of the AstraZeneca coronavirus disease (Covid-19) vaccine, as the outbreak continues in Managua, Nicaragua September 20, 2021.
Image: REUTERS/Maynor Valenzuela

September 21 2021 - 20:07

'Sustained downward trend': SA records 2,200 new Covid-19 cases and 160 deaths in 24 hours

SA recorded 2,197 new Covid-19 cases in the past 24 hours as the “sustained downward trend” in new infections continued, the National Institute for Communicable Diseases said on Tuesday.

The new infections came at a positivity rate of 6.1%, which is also significantly down from the peaks of the third wave.

The NICD said that there were 160 new Covid-19 related deaths in the past day. This means that there have been 2,886,331 confirmed cases and 86,376 fatalities to date across SA.

September 21 2021 - 12:47

J&J says second shot boosts protection for moderate-severe Covid-19 to 94%

Johnson & Johnson said Tuesday a second shot of its Covid-19 vaccine given about two months after the first increased its effectiveness to 94% in the United States against moderate to severe forms of the disease.

That compares to 70% protection with a single dose.

The data will help J&J make its case to U.S. regulators for a booster shot even as the company stresses the durability of its single-shot vaccine as a tool to ease the global pandemic.

President Joe Biden is pushing for booster shots in the face of surging hospitalizations caused by the Delta variant and J&J, the only drugmaker with a single-shot Covid-19 vaccine approved in the United States, has been under pressure to produce evidence on the effectiveness of an additional dose.

The company has now "generated evidence that a booster shot further increases protection against Covid-19," Dr. Paul Stoffels, J&J’s chief scientific officer, said in a statement.

J&J said a booster given two months after the first dose increased antibody levels four to six-fold. When given six months after the first dose, antibody levels shot up twelve-fold, data released last month showed, suggesting a large improvement in protection with the longer interval between doses.

Side effects with two doses were comparable to those seen in studies with the single-dose vaccine. The data is yet to be peer reviewed but will be submitted for publication in the coming months.


September 21 2021 - 12:40

Protests in Melbourne as virus fears halt construction

Hundreds of demonstrators took to the streets of Melbourne, which is currently in lockdown, after authorities shut construction sites for two weeks, saying workers' frequent movement was spreading the coronavirus.

September 21 2021 - 11:50

US to require Covid vaccination on arrival for some foreign nationals with exemptions, memo says

Under new U.S. rules, foreign nationals admitted to the United States on humanitarian grounds, who are not required to have Covid-19 vaccinations, will have to agree to be vaccinated upon arrival, according to a planning document seen by Reuters.

The White House on Monday said it would lift restrictions  that bar many non-U.S. citizens from traveling to the United States by air starting in November.

The United States will require nearly all foreign nationals age 12 and over to show proof of Covid-19 vaccines before entering the country.

Exemptions to that policy will include "children, Covid-19 vaccine clinical trial participants and humanitarian exceptions for people traveling for an important reason and who lack access to vaccination in a timely manner," the planning document said.

Most people who receive those "very limited" exemptions would be required to agree to get vaccinated upon arrival, the document said. It was not immediately clear how or where vaccines would be administered or if the travelers would have to quarantine while waiting for their immunity to build.

A White House official said the administration is still working on the rules that will govern exemptions and added those traveling under humanitarian exemptions "will also need a compelling reason to come to the (United States)."

"To the extent there are people fleeing sort of exigent circumstances, violent conflict ... that is something we'll consider" when granting a humanitarian exemption, a White House official said.

The document said the Department of Homeland Security, Federal Aviation Administration and State Department will work "to develop the directives and processes for implementing these changes via the boarding process with airlines and through consular affairs offices."

An administration official said policies about religious exemptions will be decided during that process.


September 21 2021 - 09:00

Researchers study bats to track Covid-19 origins

Researchers are collecting samples from bats in northern Cambodia in a bid to understand the coronavirus pandemic

September 21 2021 - 08:08

Chinese city orders spas, mahjong salons to shut after Covid-19 case confirmed

Spas, cinemas and mahjong salons in the Chinese city of Harbin were ordered to close on Tuesday to prevent Covid-19 spreading in poorly ventilated spaces, state television reported.

The temporary shutdowns were part of a range of restrictions imposed on the northeastern city after one case of community transmission, the report said, citing the Harbin government.

Religious activities were also suspended, tourist attractions were ordered to operate at half capacity, and visits were banned at retirement homes.

The restrictions come as China celebrates the mid-moon festival on Tuesday, and ahead of the National Day golden week holiday starting on October 1, a time of increased travel and social interraction.

China on Tuesday reported 72 new confirmed coronavirus cases in the mainland for September 20, down from 49 a day earlier, with the latest cluster of infection in the southeastern province of Fujian, according to National Health Commission data.

China has brought under control several clusters of infection since late July, driven mainly by the highly transmissible Delta variant of the new coronavirus.

That was achieved by swift contact tracing and locking down areas deemed high-risk, even when only a handful of cases were detected. In cities where most infections were found, multiple rounds of testing on local populations were undertaken and travel restrictions imposed.


September 21 2021 - 07:00

Can drinking alcohol protect you from Covid-19?

While some may believe that drinking alcohol has the same effect as hand sanitiser to protect against Covid-19, this is not the case.

In no way can drinking alcohol protect you from Covid-19 or prevent you from being infected by it.

According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), drinking alcohol will not destroy the virus - in fact its consumption is likely to increase the health risks if a person becomes infected with the virus.

“Alcohol (at a concentration of at least 60% by volume) works as a disinfectant on your skin, but it has no such effect within your system when ingested,” said WHO. “It will not disinfect your mouth and throat and it will not give you any kind of protection against Covid-19.

September 21 2021 - 06:45

Pfizer Covid vaccine safe for younger kids, data shows

Pfizer and BioNTech say their data show that their COVID-19 vaccine is safe and protective in kids aged 5 to 11-years-old, and plan to ask for authorization in the United States, Europe and elsewhere.

September 21 2021 - 06:30

US to ease ban on vaccinated foreign travelers

The United States in November will re-open air travelers from China, India, Britain and many other European countries who are fully vaccinated against Covid-19, the White House said on Monday, rolling back tough pandemic-related travel restrictions imposed beginning early last year.

September 21 2021 - 06:00

Covid will likely shift from pandemic to endemic, but what does that mean?

Most people are wondering when and how the Covid-19 pandemic will end and there are still no easy answers.

The word “endemic” is regularly mentioned, especially among public health leaders and experts as they discuss potential future scenarios. So it’s important to define exactly what it would mean for Covid-19 to be endemic.

Scientists predict it will become endemic over time, but there will still be sporadic outbreaks where it gets out of control. The transition from pandemic to endemic will likely play out differently in different locations around the world.