COVID-19 WRAP | Covid-19 cases, deaths and hospital admissions on the decline, but don't get complacent: NICD

22 September 2021 - 06:15 By TimesLIVE
A man wearing a face mask passes a sign put up to encourage social distancing during the coronavirus disease (Covid-19) outbreak, at Marina Bay in Singapore, September 22, 2021.
A man wearing a face mask passes a sign put up to encourage social distancing during the coronavirus disease (Covid-19) outbreak, at Marina Bay in Singapore, September 22, 2021.
Image: REUTERS/Edgar Su

September 22 2021 - 19:59

Covid-19 cases, deaths and hospital admissions on the decline, but don't get complacent: NICD

New Covid-19 cases, deaths and hospitalisations are on the decline - but this is no time to get complacent.

This is according to the National Institute for Communicable Diseases (NICD) as it released SA's latest coronavirus statistics on Wednesday.

There were 2,967 new infections identified in the previous 24 hours across SA, taking the total number of cases to 2,889,298 to date. The new cases were at a positivity rate of 7%.

September 22 2021 - 19:37

SCA dismisses Ledla's appeal in R139m PPE corruption case

The Supreme Court of Appeal (SCA) on Wednesday dismissed an application to appeal against a Special Tribunal order declaring a R139m PPE contract to Ledla Structural Development as unlawful and invalid.

The application was dismissed with costs.

In court papers last year, the SIU described Ledla as a “proxy” to Royal Bhaca, a company belonging to Thandisizwe, the husband of Kusela Diko, who was President Cyril Ramaphosa's spokesperson at the time of the Covid-19 outbreak. The company was awarded a PPE tender by the Gauteng health department.

September 22 2021 - 19:01

Mandatory vaccinations closer to reality at UCT as senate gives backing

Plans to introduce mandatory Covid-19 vaccination among staff and students at the University of Cape Town (UCT) are one step closer after a resounding vote by the university's senate.

On Wednesday afternoon, the senate voted on a proposed policy to make vaccines mandatory from next year. About 83% of respondents are said to have voted in favour of the policy.

Scientist Prof Linda-Gail Bekker, who brought the motion before the senate, said that getting people vaccinated was key to getting students back on campus.

September 22 2021 - 13:00

Almost 40 million Russians fully vaccinated against Covid-19  

Almost 40 million people in Russia have been fully vaccinated against Covid-19, the TASS news agency quoted Anna Popova, the head of the consumer watchdog Rospotrebnadzor, as saying on Wednesday.

Authorities in Russia, which has a population of 146 million, have said they are aiming for 80% of the population to have immunity by November. 

Reuters

September 22 2021 - 12:45

India to target children for Covid-19 vaccine from Oct -sources

All Indian children aged 12 or older will become eligible for Covid-19 vaccinations from next month, when drug maker Cadila Healthcare launches its ZyCoV-D product, two sources with direct knowledge of the matter told Reuters.

The world's first DNA-based Covid-19 vaccine, ZyCoV-D won emergency authorisation from Indian regulators last month.

From October, the company, better known as Zydus Cadila, will produce 10 million doses a month.

The health ministry did not immediately respond to a request for comment. The sources sought anonymity because they were not authorised to talk to media.

The vaccine is the only one approved for children in India, which has given a total of 825.9 million doses to adults among its population of nearly 1.4 billion.

Reuters

September 22 2021 - 12:30

IMF calls for coordinated action, accountability in Covid-19 battle

The chief economist of the International Monetary Fund on Tuesday called for coordinated action and greater accountability to ensure that the world meets a target of vaccinating 40% of people in every country against Covid-19 by the end of 2021.

India's decision this week to resume vaccine exports was "a very important part of the solution," but major economies also had to ratchet up vaccine deliveries to honor their pledges, Gita Gopinath told Reuters in an interview.

The pandemic has killed nearly 5 million people across the world, and the IMF has warned that highly unequal health prospects - with just 2% of people in low-income countries vaccinated to date - poses "severe risks".

Gopinath said Group of Seven rich countries had delivered only 14% of the total vaccine doses they had promised, but increasing that to 50% would provide sufficient doses to reach the global target for 2021.

"It's not enough to make announcements and pledges. You have to come through on it," she said, adding that one of the biggest accomplishments of the Covid-19 summit being organized by US President Joe Biden on Wednesday would be a more systematic way of holding countries accountable.

"I think (ending the pandemic) is still a solvable problem and that it can be done, as long as you can get the countries and the vaccine manufacturers to come together and deliver on these targets," she said.

It was critical to allocate adequate supplies of vaccines, especially to African countries with big deficits, by year's end, even if some shots did not get into people's arms until early next year, she said.

Gopinath and IMF staff economist Ruchir Agarwal in May released a $50 billion proposal  that built on efforts by the United Nations, World Health Organization and other groups to end the Covid-19 pandemic by vaccinating at least 40% of the population in all countries by the end of 2021.

The plan, subsequently endorsed by the WHO, World Trade Organization and World Bank, called for boosting that vaccination rate to at least 60% by the first half of 2022.

Biden has challenged world leaders to boost that target to 70% by the time of next year's United Nations General Assembly. 

Reuters

September 22 2021 - 12:00

Wuhan scientists planned to release coronavirus particles into cave bats, leaked papers reveal

Wuhan scientists were planning to release enhanced airborne coronavirus particles into Chinese bat populations to inoculate them against diseases that could jump to humans, leaked grant proposals dating from 2018 show....

September 22 2021 - 11:30

UAE eases Covid-19 face mask rules as Expo nears

The United Arab Emirates on Wednesday cut the number of places where face masks must be worn as it gears up to open the Expo 2020 world fair next month and as official Covid-19 case numbers fall.

The UAE had required masks in all public places and among members of different households in private vehicles.

While adhering to a two-metre distancing rule, masks can now be removed when doing exercise in public places, on beaches and at poolsides, in hair salons and in medical centres when being treated.

The change follows a steady decrease in reported daily cases since early July, the National Emergency Crisis and Disaster Management Authority said in a statement carried by state news agency WAM.Local authorities should display signs where it is permitted to remove masks, it added.

Dubai, one of the UAE's seven emirates, opens the Expo 2020 world fair on October 1 which it hopes will bring in 25 million domestic and foreign visitors.Everyone attending Expo over 18 will have to be vaccinated against the coronavirus or test negative to enter.

Reuters

September 22 2021 - 11:00

Fashion label Valentino makes $690 hoodie to support Covid-19 vaccine

Luxury label Valentino is producing a limited-edition, $690-apiece "(V) Vaccinated” hoodie using its V signature logo in support of the vaccination campaign against Covid-19, with proceeds donated to Unicef.

The black sweaters, with the “vaccinated” writing in red on the chest, were first created by a small Los Angeles company called Cloney without the Italian brand knowing about them.

When Valentino's designer, Pierpaolo Piccioli, found out about the initiative, he decided to buy all the initial 5 hoodies available and give them as a present to friends, including Lady Gaga, Valentino said in a statement.

He then went on to produce a series of hoodies to be sold on Valentino's website from September 23. Proceeds will go to the UN children agency Unicef, to support its work with the global vaccine-sharing platform Covax, which is focused on getting anti-coronavirus jabs to poorer countries.

“Getting vaccinated has become the most effective way to fight this global pandemic, as well as a symbol of respect for others and social responsibility,” Piccioli said.

Reuters

September 22 2021 - 10:45

Brazil's health minister tests positive for Covid-19, following NYC visit with Bolsonaro

Brazil's health minister Marcelo Queiroga tested positive for Covid-19 hours after accompanying President Jair Bolsonaro to the United Nations General Assembly in New York on Tuesday, the government said.

September 22 2021 - 09:00

A lower dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech coronavirus vaccine — one-third the amount given to adults and teens — is safe and triggered a robust immune response in children as young as 5 years old, the drug companies announced in a news release Monday.

The finding, eagerly anticipated by many parents and paediatricians, is a crucial step towards the two-shot coronavirus vaccine regimen becoming available for younger school-aged children, perhaps close to Halloween.

A lower dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech coronavirus vaccine — one-third the amount given to adults and teens — is safe and...

Posted by Washington Post on Monday, September 20, 2021

September 22 2021 - 08:00

Bolsonaro appears to break UN vaccine 'honour code'

The United Nations General Assembly session with its focus on fighting the pandemic kicked off with a speech from Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro, a vaccine sceptic who appeared to openly break the UN’s honour code simply by walking in the door.

September 22 2021 - 07:00

How do I know if I have ‘long Covid-19’?

The National Institute for Communicable Diseases (NICD) says there is no way to test patients directly for long Covid, a persistence of Covid-19 symptoms about four weeks after recovery or a negative test. 

Patients with persistent Covid-19 symptoms should be examined by healthcare professionals who will rule out other causes of the symptoms.

The institute said causes for symptoms may include bacterial pneumonia, tuberculosis and worsening symptoms relating to underlying comorbidities such as diabetes and hypertension

September 22 2021 - 06:30

Panama to give immunocompromised people third Covid-19 vaccine shot

Panama will offer a third Covid-19 vaccine dose to moderate and severely immunocompromised people starting this week, Health Minister Luis Sucre said on Tuesday.

The decision follows similar moves by other Latin American countries such as Ecuador and Chile, which are already giving a booster vaccine dose to people at risk, for instance those with immunodeficiencies or the elderly.

Among those eligible to get an extra shot during the first phase of the Panamanian plan are people undergoing cancer treatment and transplants, as well as those who received stem cells in the last two years or suffer from an advanced or untreated HIV infection.

“The additional dose aims to improve the immune response” of immunosuppressed patients, Sucre said, explaining the campaign would be carried out in national and regional hospitals in the Central American nation of 4.2 million people.

Panama has administered 5.3 million doses of the coronavirus vaccine and authorities say it is close to herd immunity.

Sucre said the pandemic is under control after several weeks of sustained drops in daily infections.

The Ministry of Health reported 341 new infections on Tuesday, taking its total number of infections to 464,781.

Reuters

September 22 2021 - 06:00

J&J says second Covid-19 shot boosts protection

Johnson & Johnson said a second shot of its Covid-19 vaccine given about two months after the first increased its effectiveness to 94% against moderate to severe forms of the disease, according to data from the US that is not peer reviewed.

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