COVID-19 WRAP | SA records 13,147 new Covid-19 cases

07 December 2021 - 06:24 By TimesLIVE
A traveler receives a Covid-19 test at a Histopath testing clinic at Sydney Airport in Sydney, Australia, on Tuesday, December 7, 2021.
A traveler receives a Covid-19 test at a Histopath testing clinic at Sydney Airport in Sydney, Australia, on Tuesday, December 7, 2021.
Image: Brendon Thorne/Bloomberg

December 07 2021 - 20:30

SA passes grim Covid-19 milestone as 90,000 official deaths are recorded

With 27 deaths recorded in the past 24 hours, SA has passed another grim pandemic milestone: more than 90,000 people have officially died of Covid-19 related illness since the Covid-19 outbreak in March last year.

The NICD said on Tuesday that the official death toll was 90,002 after the latest data was released by the national health department.

December 07 2021 - 20:00

Court dismisses wine industry's bid to overturn lockdown liquor bans

Vinpro says it is extremely disappointed in the Western Cape High Court’s ruling on Tuesday dismissing the wine industry body's application against the liquor bans.

The non-profit, which represents close to 2,600 South African wine producers, cellars and industry stakeholders, launched its application when the liquor ban was put in place in January. However, its application was heard only in August.

December 07 2021 - 18:29

Five new Covid-19 cases at Kaizer Chiefs bring total to 36

Kaizer Chiefs has revealed that the club is dealing with five new cases of Covid-19 — bringing the total to 36 at the Naturena-based club.

Chiefs were to play Lamontville Golden Arrows in Durban on Wednesday and have decided against travelling to KwaZulu-Natal in view of the escalating crisis. They also did not honour their home game against Cape Town City at FNB Stadium on Saturday.

 “Sadly, the test results revealed that the outbreak of Covid-19 that initially motivated Kaizer Chiefs to put in a request for postponement of matches had spread further within the camp — with five more people testing positive for the virus, bringing the number of reported cases in the past few days with the club to 36,” the club said on Tuesday.

December 07 2021 - 16:01

Ramaphosa mum on stricter lockdown regulations as he heads home

President Cyril Ramaphosa on Tuesday said he would err on the side of caution before placing the country under stricter Covid-19 lockdown when he returns to SA on Wednesday.

Speaking during a joint press briefing with his Senegalese counterpart Macky Sall at the Presidential Palace in Dakar, Ramaphosa said that when he lands in SA he will head straight into a cabinet meeting.

“I arrive at 4am and walk straight into a cabinet meeting, where we are going to discuss a variety of issues, and the national coronavirus command council still needs to meet before it makes recommendations to cabinet on how we should continue responding to the coronavirus,” he said.

December 07 2021 - 15:01

SIU to hand Covid-19 corruption report to Ramaphosa by Friday

President Cyril Ramaphosa will receive the final Special Investigating Unit (SIU) report on alleged widespread corruption related to Covid-19 procurement by the end of the week.

On Tuesday SIU head Andy Mothibi told the standing committee on public accounts (Scopa) the report would be handed to the president on Friday.

Ramaphosa had signed a proclamation for the SIU to start the investigation after reports of widespread procurement corruption related to Covid-19.

December 07 2021 - 13:56

Spain's health ministry approves Covid vaccination for children aged 5 to 11

The Spanish health commission rubber-stamped on Tuesday the vaccination against Covid-19 of children aged 5 to 11 following a recommendation by the European health regulator late last month.

The decision comes as the country, with a nationwide vaccination rate of nearly 80%, seeks to address an acceleration of Covid cases.

Inoculating children and young people, who can unwittingly transmit Covid-19 to others, is considered a critical step towards taming the pandemic.

Reuters

December 07 2021 - 13:46

New York City expands Covid-19 vaccine mandates for children, private sector

New York City expanded its array of Covid-19 mandates on Monday, setting vaccine requirements for children as young as 5 years old and for workers at all private sector companies as the highly transmissible Omicron variant pushes into more US states.

The most-populous US city set a December 27 deadline for all 184,000 businesses within its limits to make their employees show proof they have been vaccinated, Mayor Bill de Blasio said. 

December 07 2021 - 13:06

First-ever Covid-19-killing steel can destroy 99.8% of the virus

The newly-developed alloy can inactivate 99.75% of the SARS-CoV-2 virus within three hours and 99.99% within six hours, according to a study published November 25 by a team of researchers at the University of Hong Kong. 

December 07 2021 - 12:45

Limpopo health office staff down tools after colleagues test positive

Some employees from the Waterberg district health offices in Limpopo downed tools on Tuesday after several of their colleagues tested positive for Covid-19 between Friday and Monday.

Provincial manager for the Public Servants Association (PSA) John Teffo said employees were worried about being infected at work as the offices had not been disinfected after the positive cases were reported.

“Workers’ lives are compromised by the very department that should provide leadership regarding health matters. The PSA condemns this irresponsible behaviour,” said Teffo.

Limpopo health department spokesperson Neil Shikwambana confirmed some employees had tested positive for Covid-19.

December 07 2021 - 12:23

‘Vaccinate, vaccinate, vaccinate': National Health Laboratory Service

“Vaccinate, vaccinate, vaccinate.”

This was the urgent call from Prof Koleka Mlisana, National Health Laboratory Service executive manager for academic affairs, research and quality assurance, at a National Economic Development and Labour Council (Nedlac) summit on Tuesday.

“The bottom line is we need to vaccinate,” said Mlisana.

“We need to make sure we get a booster for everybody. This is the most effective intervention.”

December 07 2021 - 12:18

Vaccine mandates 'absolute last resort', WHO Europe head says

Mandatory vaccinations against the coronavirus are an "absolute last resort", head of the World Health Organization's Europe division, Hans Kluge, told reporters on Tuesday."

Mandates around vaccination are an absolute last resort and only applicable when all feasible options to improve vaccination uptake have been exhausted," Kluge said.

Reuters

December 07 2021 - 11:58

Austria's unvaccinated will remain in lockdown next week, chancellor says

The unvaccinated will remain in lockdown when Austria's general lockdown lifts on Sunday, new Chancellor Karl Nehammer confirmed on Tuesday, the day after he took office.

It was no longer a question of whether the general lockdown would end on Sunday as planned but how, and consultations on that would take place on Wednesday, Nehammer told a news conference. 

Reuters

December 07 2021 - 11:27

EU travel curbs needed till more known about Omicron - Germany's Spahn

Germany's outgoing health minister said on Tuesday that travel curbs that limit arrivals to the European Union are important until more is known about the Omicron variant of the coronavirus.

Late in November, EU states agreed to impose travel restrictions on seven southern African countries after they reported several cases of the Omicron variant, which is considered highly infectious.

"Until we know more, we need to be careful and so travel restrictions are important to keep the entry in Europe and Germany as low as possible," Jens Spahn told reporters as he arrived for a meeting of EU health ministers in Brussels.

EU sources said on Monday there was no immediate plan to ease the restrictions, quashing a media report that cited a diplomat saying this could be the case.

Ahead of Tuesday's meeting, EU Health Commissioner Stella Kyriakides said: "We are facing a very challenging epidemiological situation in all members states with the Covid-19 pandemic, made especially challenging with the appearance of the Omicron variant."

She said she would urge ministers to step up vaccinations and, when necessary, to promote other non-pharmaceutical measures, such as requiring the wearing of masks and social distancing.

Malta's health minister, Christopher Fearne, told reporters before the meeting he wanted pharmaceutical companies to produce a modified version of their vaccines in less than 100 days.

Pfizer and BionTech, the main suppliers of Covid-19 vaccines to the EU, have said they would need 100 days.

"A hundred days is possibly too long for us to wait for a modified vaccine," Fearne said, noting however that at the moment there is no certainty that the Omicron variant will require an adapted vaccine, the assumption being that boosters may be enough to tackle the new mutation.

Reuters 

December 07 2021 - 10:36

Mixing Pfizer, Oxford shots with Moderna gives better immune response: study

 

December 07 2021 - 09:36

WHO director-general ‘pained’ by racist cartoon of Omicron coming from SA

World Health Organisation director-general Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus says it pains him that shows of racism, like the recent cartoon depicting SA spreading the Omicron variant of the coronavirus to Europe, “still plague the challenges facing the world today”.

On Monday evening Ghebreyesus tweeted that caricaturing people crammed in a boat taking a virus to Europe was “disgusting”.

“We can only advance, as one community, by promoting solidarity, not stigma,” he said.

December 07 2021 - 08:16

EU to discuss easing Omicron travel curbs on Southern Africa

European Union health ministers are expected to discuss Tuesday whether it’s advisable to adjust the travel curbs the bloc’s nations have imposed on Southern Africa in response to the omicron variant, an EU diplomat said.

December 07 2021 - 07:00

What is so concerning about the Omicron variant of Covid-19?

The recently identified Covid-19 variant Omicron has sparked a new wave of concern about how infectious it is, and the pandemic as a whole.  

While there’s still much not yet known about Omicron, the World Health Organisation (WHO) has described it as a “variant of concern.”

That concern was based primarily on data indicating that Omicron appears to be spreading quickly and potentially even more rapidly than the highly transmissible Delta variant, which is the predominant strain of Covid-19 around the world.

December 07 2021 - 06:30

New York City mandates shots for all private businesses amid Omicron spread

New York City declared on Monday that all private-sector employers must implement Covid-19 vaccine mandates for their workers, as the highly transmissible Omicron variant has spread to at least one-third of US states.

December 07 2021 - 06:15

To party or not to party: SA corporates’ dilemma as Covid cases rise

From party guests producing negative Covid-19 tests and proof of vaccines to downsized year-end dos and virtual celebrations, South Africans are partying cautiously with the emergence of the new variant and a rise in positive cases.

Omicron has subdued what would have been a roaring festive season, say party planners and caterers, with some dealing with the disappointment and financial implications of cancelled events and requests for smaller gatherings.

Corporates such as MTN and Old Mutual have adopted a prudent approach to year-end festivities.

“Given the increased infection rates and the risky Omicron variant, Old Mutual is encouraging everyone to reconsider any business and personal plans that may put anyone at risk. We need to balance the risk of Covid infection with the need for employees to connect at the end of a year, which was challenging for all.

December 07 2021 - 06:00

Covid seen more in 10- to 19-year-olds than in younger children

Children and younger people have made up a greater proportion of Covid-19 cases and admissions early in the fourth wave than those in older age groups. However, this “does not necessarily reflect more severe disease in children”.

This is according to University of Cape Town (UCT) professor Mary-Ann Davies, director of the Centre for Infectious Disease Epidemiology and Research.

Medical scientists say it is too early to know how mild or severe symptoms will be from the dominant Omicron variant, but there are concerns that a higher proportion of children are being hospitalised.

“At this stage the major increase in children has been in 10- to 19-year-olds rather than in younger children, though Gauteng has seen an increase in admissions in younger children,” said Davies.

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