COVID-19 WRAP | SA records 591 new Covid-19 cases

20 October 2021 - 12:47 By TimesLIVE
A child receives a dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech coronavirus disease (Covid-19) vaccine during a vaccination program for minors between the ages of 12 to 17 with underlying medical conditions or disability at a hospital in Ciudad Juarez, Mexico October 19, 2021.
A child receives a dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech coronavirus disease (Covid-19) vaccine during a vaccination program for minors between the ages of 12 to 17 with underlying medical conditions or disability at a hospital in Ciudad Juarez, Mexico October 19, 2021.
Image: REUTERS/Jose Luis Gonzalez

October 20 2021 — 20:31

SA records 591 Covid-19 cases, 80 deaths in 24 hours: NICD

SA recorded 591 new Covid-19 cases and 80 deaths in the past 24 hours, the latest National Institute for Communicable Diseases (NICD) statistics showed.

This means that there have been 2,917,846 cases and 88,754 deaths recorded across SA since the outbreak of the coronavirus in March last year.

Of the new cases, only two provinces recorded more than 100 infections in the past day — KwaZulu-Natal with 129 and the Western Cape with 124. Gauteng was third most affected, with 71. Limpopo had the fewest new cases, with seven recorded.

October 20 2021 — 15:48

UCT one rubber-stamp away from ‘no jab, no entry’ policy from 2022

Don’t expect a spot at one of Africa’s top universities if you’re not willing to get vaccinated against Covid-19.

The council of the University of Cape Town (UCT) has given in-principle approval to a proposal that all staff and students must prove they’ve had a jab before they can enter campuses from January 1 2022.

UCT spokesperson Elijah Moholola said this means all staff, “as a condition of being able to perform their duties”, must be vaccinated.

October 20 2021 — 13:50

Kenya's president Kenyatta lifts coronavirus curfew

Kenya's President Uhuru Kenyatta on Wednesday lifted a nationwide curfew, which has been in place since March last year to curb the spread of the coronavirus, with immediate effect.

Speaking during the celebration of a national public holiday, Kenyatta said infections had fallen, with the daily positivity rate dropping below 5% in the past two weeks.

He also increased the number of people who can attend a religious service to two thirds of a congregation, from just a third previously.

Reuters

October 20 2021 — 13:20

Senegal logs zero new Covid-19 cases for first time since pandemic began

Senegal recorded zero new Covid-19 cases on Wednesday for the first time since the pandemic began, the health ministry said.

The West African country had its worst wave of coronavirus in July, when it was recording more than 1,000 new cases a day.

The health ministry has registered 73,875 cases and 1,873 deaths since the outbreak began.

Sixteen patients are still under treatment, the ministry said.

Senegal has been seen as a positive example of a country managing Covid-19 well despite limited resources. The state began contact tracing and isolating cases early on. Mask mandates and curfews were enforced in the capital, Dakar.

The vaccination rate remains low, with 1.3 million doses administered to the roughly 17 million population.

Dakar's bustling markets and beachside bars have long ago returned to pre-pandemic levels of activity. The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has issued a Level 1 Travel Health Notice for Senegal, indicating the lowest level of Covid-19.

Reuters

October 20 2021 — 12:44

Only very old and sick die of Covid-19 if vaccinated, Italian study shows

People vaccinated against Covid-19 are highly unlikely to die of the disease unless very old and already badly ill before getting it, a study in Italy showed on Wednesday.

The study by the national Health Institute (ISS), contained in a regular ISS report on Covid-19 deaths, shows the average age of people who died despite being vaccinated was 85. On average they had five underlying illnesses.

The average age of death among those not vaccinated was 78, with four pre-existing conditions.

Cases of heart problems, dementia and cancer were all found to be higher in the sample of deaths among those vaccinated.

The analysis, carried out from February 1 to October 5 this year, studied the medical records of 671 unvaccinated Covid-19 fatalities and 171 fully vaccinated ones.

There were 38,096 Covid-19 deaths in Italy during the period under review.

Among these, 33,620 were unvaccinated, 2,130 had received only a single-dose or were infected shortly after inoculation before antibodies had formed, and 1,440 were fully vaccinated.

Earlier this month Italy reached a target of fully vaccinating 80% of its population over the age of 12, a threshold the government had indicated as offering a significant degree of safety from the virus.

Despite reaching this goal, from October 15 the government made Covid-19 health passes mandatory for all workers, in a test case for Europe. The move has triggered sometimes violent protests in several cities, including the capital Rome.

Reuters

October 20 2021 — 12:34

New York City to require Covid-19 vaccinations for all public employees — WSJ

New York City will require that all of its municipal workforce get vaccinated against Covid-19, the Wall Street Journal reported on Wednesday.

Mayor Bill de Blasio plans to announce an order on Wednesday, the report said, adding that city workers need to get their first shot by Oct. 29 or potentially lose their jobs.

Reuters 

October 20 2021 — 12:10

POLL | Will you force your child to get the vaccine if they are not keen?

Children between the ages of 12 and 17 are now able to get the Covid-19 vaccine, and this is splitting opinions online.

October 20 2021 — 11:30

UK health service facing growing winter pressures

The National Health Service is close to the edge of being overwhelmed in many parts of Britain and pressure is only going to increase as winter approaches, the head of a healthcare system body said on Wednesday.

October 20 2021 — 11:25

As is the case with Covid-19, breathing spreads TB and not coughing: study

For centuries it's been believed that tuberculosis is transmitted mainly through coughing, but new research by the University of Cape Town has cast doubt on this theory and now suggests that, just like with Covid-19, breathing may be a bigger contributor to the spread of TB. 

Researchers believe the latest finding helps explain why overcrowded spaces, like prisons and informal settlements, often are breeding grounds for TB.

Presenting the latest research at The Union World Conference on Lung Health, which is being held virtually this week, the researchers, who conducted the study on TB patients in Cape Town, using a specially constructed respiratory aerosol sampling chamber (RASC), found that as much as 90% of TB bacteria released from TB patients may be carried in tiny droplets, known as aerosols, which are expelled when a person exhales deeply.

October 20 2021 — 11:15

Gates Foundation allots R1,7bn for poor nations to get Covid-19 Merck drug

The Gates Foundation will allocate up to $120m (R1.7bn) to help lower-income countries get an experimental Covid-19 drug being developed by US drugmaker Merck & Co Inc in the battle against coronavirus, it said on Wednesday. 

The money will support efforts to develop and make generic versions of what could become the first oral antiviral medication for the disease if it wins regulatory approval, the foundation said in a statement.

“Today's commitment will ensure that more people in more countries get access to the promising drug molnupiravir, but it's not the end of the story — we need other donors, including foundations and governments, to act,” Co-Chair Melinda French Gates said .

Merck is developing the antiviral pill along with partner Ridgeback Biotherapeutics, to treat coronavirus infections that range from mild to moderate in severity and sought US emergency use authorisation for the drug this month.

October 20 2021 — 11:00

Study: Pfizer vaccine '93% effective in preventing hospitalisation' in teens

The Pfizer Inc/BioNTech SE Covid-19 vaccine is 93% effective in preventing hospitalisation among those aged 12 to 18, according to an analysis released by the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) on Tuesday.

The study was conducted between June and September, when the extremely contagious Delta variant was predominant. 

The data from 19 pediatric hospitals showed that among 179 patients who were hospitalised for Covid-19, 97% were unvaccinated, providing reassurance of the vaccine's efficacy.

October 20 2021 — 10:49

One in seven patients ‘missed cancer surgery during Covid-19 lockdowns’

One in seven cancer patients around the world missed out on potentially life-saving operations during Covid-19 lockdowns, a new study shows. 

Planned cancer surgery was affected by lockdowns regardless of the local Covid-19 rates at that time, with patients in lower-income countries at the highest risk of missing their surgery.

Dr Christo Kloppers, head of acute-care surgery at Groote Schuur Hospital and part of the department of surgery at the University of Cape Town, said there was a need for various strategies as part of a surgery recovery campaign.

October 20 2021 — 10:47

Delta subvariant won't change Covid-19 picture, Oxford vaccine chief says

A subvariant of Delta that is growing in England is being monitored but is not likely to change the Covid-19 picture, Oxford Vaccine Group chief Andrew Pollard said on Wednesday. 

The subvariant, designated as AY.4.2 in Britain, is growing and accounted for about 6% of all sequences generated, the UK Health Security Agency said last week, but it has not been labelled as “under investigation” or a “variant of concern”.

October 20 2021 — 10:45

US workers face job losses as Covid-19 vaccine mandates kick in

Thousands of unvaccinated workers across the US are facing potential job losses as a growing number of states, cities and private companies start to enforce mandates for inoculation against Covid-19. 

In the latest high-profile example, Washington State University (WSU) fired its head football coach and four of his assistants on Monday for failing to comply with the state's vaccine requirement. The coach, Nick Rolovich, had applied for a religious exemption from the mandate earlier this month.

Thousands of police officers and firefighters in cities like Chicago and Baltimore are also at risk of losing their jobs in the coming days under mandates that require them to report their vaccination status or submit to regular coronavirus testing.

October 20 2021 — 10:00

G20 leaders summit to focus on climate, Covid-19 and recovery measures-Italy's Draghi

The summit of the G20 leaders scheduled in Rome at the end of this month will focus on the fight against climate change, coronavirus and the measures required for a global recovery after the pandemic, Italian Prime Minister Mario Draghi said on Wednesday.

“Without the involvement of the world's largest economies, we will not be able to comply with the Paris Agreement and limit global warming,” Draghi told Senate in remarks ahead of this week's European Council meeting.

The Rome summit is seen as particularly important because it comes just before the United Nations COP26 climate change conference to be held in Glasgow, Scotland, where the position of G20 nations will be critical.

Reuters

October 20 2021 — 08:00

How to see if you are owed R350 grant money from the first cycle

The SA Social Services Agency (Sassa) has extended the date for collection of the unclaimed R350 grants to November 30.  

The agency told TimesLIVE on Tuesday social development minister Lindiwe Zulu had  approved the extension, allowing beneficiaries to collect the grants from their nearest post office.

“It’s an early Christmas for the first cycle’s approved beneficiaries who could not claim their benefits at the post office.

October 20 2021 — 07:00

What side effects can my child expect after getting the jab?

The vaccine rollout for children between 12 and 17 years old will kick off from Wednesday. 

Health minister Joe Phaahla said last week the decision followed a recommendation by the vaccine ministerial advisory committee (VMAC) which was supported by health MECs and the cabinet.  

Phaahla said a single dose of the Pfizer vaccine would be administered because it was the safest and the timing of the second dose would be informed by further information on observed side effects.

“The Pfizer vaccine has been approved by Sahpra for this age group and will be used for this purpose,” said Phaahla. “The VMAC advised that for now we give one dose while assessing information which suggests that in a few cases there have been short-lived cases of transient myocarditis (inflammation of the heart muscle) after two doses. 

October 20 2021 — 06:20

US workers face job losses as vaccine mandates kick in

Thousands of unvaccinated workers across the US are facing potential job losses as a growing number of states, cities and private companies start to enforce mandates for inoculation against Covid-19.

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October 20 2021 — 06:10

Tokyo aims to lift Covid-19 curbs on restaurants as cases fall 

The Tokyo Metropolitan Government is aiming to ease Covid-19 restrictions on bars and restaurants next week as infections continue to decline, the Jiji news service said on Wednesday.

The easing will be announced as early as Thursday and would apply to businesses that are certified as following anti-infection measures, Jiji reported, citing informed sources.

Representatives for the Tokyo government did not immediately respond to a request for comment by Reuters.

Tokyo and much of Japan lifted Covid-19 emergency measures on October 1 that had been in place for almost six months. Even so, restaurants and bars in the capital have been asked to halt alcohol sales by 8pm and close by 9pm.

New daily cases in Tokyo dropped to 29 on Monday, the lowest since June last year. Infections have fallen dramatically from a wave of more than 5,000 a day in August that hammered the capital's medical infrastructure.

Some 67% of Japan's population is now fully vaccinated, and the government is planning to roll out booster shots this winter. At the same time, authorities are planning to use a combination of vaccination certificates  and Covid-19 tests to further ease curbs and reopen the economy.

Reuters

October 20 2021 — 06:00

‘I would tell them to f**k off’: Restaurant owner pushes back after taking flak for vaccine stance

When Angelo Zachariades, the owner of Mozambik in Menlyn Mall, Pretoria, tweeted his pride that all his staff members had been vaccinated against Covid-19, he couldn’t have imagined some would call for his restaurant to be boycotted.

Though there was praise, the anti-vax movement quickly seized upon his tweet, sent on Friday, and launched their attacks.

“I am very, very proud to say that as of today every single employee at our restaurant is fully vaccinated and has their vaccine certificates downloaded on their phones. We didn’t have a single issue and the whole process was approached in a mature, rational manner by all,” he said in the October 15 tweet.

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