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COVID-19 WRAP | SA records more than 22,000 new Covid-19 cases in 24 hours

09 December 2021 - 06:15 By TimesLIVE
More research is necessary, but there’s a chance the body’s immune response could prove more effective at fighting it.
More research is necessary, but there’s a chance the body’s immune response could prove more effective at fighting it.
Image: 123RF/perig76/File photo

December 09 2021 -  19:57

SA records more than 22,000 new Covid-19 cases in 24 hours

SA breached the 20,000 mark for new Covid-19 cases in the past 24 hours, with 22,391 infections recorded.

The National Institute for Communicable Diseases said on Thursday that the new cases came at a positivity rate of 29.8%.

December 09 2021 -  15:03

World ‘can and must improve Covid-19 response,' says angry Ramaphosa

President Cyril Ramaphosa on Thursday renewed his attack on countries that have isolated Africa in response to SA's announcement of the Omicron variant of Covid-19.

Addressing fellow members of the Access to Covid-19 Tools (ACT) Accelerator Facilitation Council, Ramaphosa said: “We should be concerned that some decisions are no longer informed by science.

“This pandemic has shown how we respond to a truly global crisis. It has shown several shortcomings and weaknesses. But we can and must improve.”

December 09 2021 -  13:24

Only 6% of SA's intensive care beds occupied by Covid-19 patients — WHO official

SA, where the Omicron variant is driving a fourth wave of Covid-19 infections, has seen a 255% increase in infections in the past seven days, but only 6% of intensive care beds are occupied by coronavirus patients, WHO Africa official Thierno Balde said on Thursday.

December 09 2021 -  13:17

Youngest jab cohort now eligible for second dose of Pfizer in SA

The health department opened the Electronic Vaccination Data System (EVDS) for the second dose of Pfizer vaccine for the 12 to 17 age group on Thursday.

SMS messages have been sent to those who qualify for their second vaccination, said Foster Mohale on behalf of the department of health.

He said adolescents who received their first dose while they were 17 years old and had subsequently turned 18 could now receive their second vaccinations.

Details, however, will only be announced on Friday.

December 09 2021 -  13:00

POLL | Will you be lining up for a booster Covid-19 jab?

The SA Health Products Regulatory Authority (Sahpra) this week approved the Pfizer Covid-19 vaccine booster shot for South Africans older than 18. 

The authority received an application from Pfizer last month to amend the dosing schedule for its vaccine, and has now agreed to allow a third dose to offer protection against Covid-19.

You should get your booster at least six months after the second jab, or at least 28 days after the second dose if you are 12 years and older and are severely immunocompromised.

December 09 2021 -  12:19

Cabinet approves extension of national state of disaster until mid January

As Covid-19 cases spike with the emergence of the Omicron variant, minister in the presidency Mondli Gungubele says the cabinet has approved the extension of the national state of disaster to January 15.  

This follows a recommendation by the national coronavirus command council (NCCC), in terms of the Disaster Management Act.

“The national state of disaster is aimed at responding to the special circumstances presented by the Covid-19 pandemic,” said Gungubele.     

December 09 2021 -  11:54

Omicron torpedoes revival of SA's international tourist trade

Rushdi Harper's tour company in Cape Town was just starting to recover from a disastrous Covid-19 lockdown that had forced him to sell his house just to keep the business going. 

Then the Omicron variant of the coronavirus struck.

Until then, Harper's Wow Travel & Tours, for which foreigners make up 80% of business, had been looking forward to a bumper Christmas season when travellers from a cold northern hemisphere — mostly Britain, the US and Germany — typically head south for the sun.

December 09 2021 -  11:51

US Senate passes bill to overturn vaccine mandate

The Democratic-controlled US Senate approved a Republican measure that would overturn President Joe Biden's covid-19 vaccine-or-test mandate for private businesses, with two Democrats joining Republicans to back the initiative.

December 09 2021 -  11:30

ActionSA donates R2.7m worth of PPE to fight Covid-19 as cases surge

As SA gears up for the fourth wave of Covid-19 infections, ActionSA donated R2.7m worth of personal protective equipment (PPE) to non-governmental organisations in Johannesburg and Ekurhuleni. 

Donated items included cloth face masks, hand sanitisers and face shields. 

Party president Herman Mashaba said the donation would help alleviate the public health crisis brought about by the Covid-19 pandemic and the spike in infections due to the highly transmissible Omicron variant.

He said the NGOs were chosen based on their reach at a national level.

Mashaba said the ANC had not done enough to equip the health system to respond adequately to the pandemic.

It is appalling, and a scathing indictment on the governing ANC that civil society organisations such as ActionSA have had to step in to perform what is essentially the government’s job.”

December 09 2021 -  11:30

Botswana, one of the first countries to detect Omicron, sees no rise in hospitalisations

Botswana has not seen a rise in Covid-19 hospitalisations despite being one of the first countries to detect the Omicron variant, and has managed to fully vaccinate 71% of its 1.3-million eligible population, the health minister said on Wednesday.

December 09 2021 -  10:39

LISTICAL: Countries making Covid-19 vaccines mandatory

Governments have been making Covid-19 shots mandatory for health workers and other high-risk groups, pushed by a sharp upturn in infections caused by the Delta variant and a slowdown in vaccinations, as well as the new Omicron variant.

December 09 2021 -  10:32

Half of us do not support compulsory Covid-19 vaccinations at workplaces

SA is divided in half on the issues of compulsory workplace Covid-19 vaccinations and vaccine passports.

This is a key finding of a survey by the Centre for Social Change at the University of Johannesburg, in collaboration with the Developmental, Ethical and Capable State research division of the Human Sciences Research Council.

Researchers said on Thursday that 54% of adults said they support employers making Covid-19 vaccinations compulsory and 51% support vaccine passports.

Levels of support for these policies differ considerably, however. Among the fully vaccinated, support for compulsory workplace vaccination and vaccine passports is 75% and 78%, respectively. However, among those who are unvaccinated and do not want to be vaccinated, support falls to under 10% for both measures.

December 09 2021 -  9:47

Record Covid-19 cases in 80% vaccinated Korea shows urgency of boosters

South Korea is in the midst of a Covid-19 surge, despite being one of the most vaccinated places in Asia. 

The country, lauded throughout the pandemic for its sophisticated approach to testing and contact tracing, saw a record number of new infections this week, with 857 people seriously ill on Thursday, also a fresh high. 

While more than 80% of Korea’s population are fully inoculated, new virus cases are climbing rather than diminishing, topping 7,000 for a second day. 

December 09 2021 - 07:45

Omicron four times more transmissible than Delta in Japan study

The omicron variant of Covid-19 is 4.2 times more transmissible in its early stage than delta, according to a study by a Japanese scientist who advises the country’s health ministry, a finding likely to confirm fears about the new strain’s contagiousness.

Hiroshi Nishiura, a professor of health and environmental sciences at Kyoto University who specializes in mathematical modeling of infectious diseases, analyzed genome data available through November 26 in South Africans in Gauteng province. 

“The omicron variant transmits more, and escapes immunity built naturally and through vaccines more,” Nishiura said in his findings, which were presented at a meeting of the health ministry’s advisory panel on Wednesday. 

Concerns are swirling globally that omicron could deal the world a bigger blow than even delta, and the World Health Organization has cautioned that it could fuel surges with “severe consequences.” But a jump in cases in South Africa in the wake of the variant’s emergence hasn’t yet overwhelmed hospitals, leading to some optimism that it may only cause mostly mild illness.

Pfizer Inc. and BioNTech SE also said this week that a booster dose of their vaccine could fortify protection against the strain.

Omicron Threat May Be Countered With Extra Dose of Vaccine

Nishiura’s study hasn’t been peer-reviewed and published in a scientific journal.

The new analysis was conducted using the same method he used in a July study published by the Eurosurveillance medical journal on delta’s predicted dominance ahead of the Tokyo Olympics.

Hundreds of researchers globally are racing to understand the new variant, which is the most differentiated strain yet among the five variants of concern identified by the WHO since the pandemic began.

Cases in South Africa have rapidly increased to as many as nearly 20,000 a day since the country first reported omicron’s discovery two weeks ago. The number of Covid cases in the nation had remained low in the preceding weeks, despite only 26% of the population being fully vaccinated, according to Bloomberg’s Vaccine Tracker. 

Pfizer Will Know Shot’s Efficacy Against Omicron by Year-End

“The vaccination rate was less than 30% and many people were probably naturally infected,” Nishiura said. “We need to pay close attention to future trends to see if the same thing will happen in countries where mRNA vaccines are used at a high rate.”

Bloomberg

December 09 2021 - 07:36

Business Unity SA clarifies its position on legal action on Covid-19 vaccines

Business Unity SA (Busa) has clarified its position after labour minister Thulas Nxesi’s comments on the organisation’s reported intention to head to the Constitutional Court for a declaration on vaccinations. 

Nxesi, at the Nedlac annual summit, said the business representative organisation was heading to the apex court to seek a declaratory order on mandatory vaccination to ensure that whatever decision the government and businesses take is within the constitutional prescript. He said this will help businesses and the government take a balanced approach.

Busa said on Wednesday evening, however, that it is not planning to approach the Constitutional Court.

December 09 2021 - 07:00

Are two jabs of the Pfizer vaccine enough to protect against the Omicron variant?

Pfizer-BioNTech says three doses of its Covid-19 vaccine work against the new Omicron variant, while two doses are less effective.

On Wednesday, the company announced results from an initial study demonstrating that serum antibodies induced by the Pfizer-BioNTech Covid-19 vaccine neutralise the Omicron variant after three doses. 

Albert Bourla, Pfizer’s chair and CEO, said two doses appear to still be able to protect people from severe illness and death, but a third dose improves protection.

December 09 2021 - 06:30

Boris Johnson imposes Covid-19 'Plan B' in England to contain Omicron

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson on Wednesday imposed tougher Covid-19 restrictions in England. Dubbed 'Plan B,' to slow the spread of the Omicron coronavirus variant, Johnson ordered people to work from home, wear masks in public places and use vaccine passes for access to nightclubs and venues with large crowds.

December 09 2021 - 06:10

Vaccine update boosts optimism on Wall Street

Wall Street closed slightly higher after tests showed a three-shot course of the Pfizer Covid-19 vaccine offered some protection against the Omicron variant

December 09 2021 - 06:00

PODCAST | Covid-19 pandemic shows Ramaphosa is no crisis president

Eusebius McKaiser is joined by University of Cape Town (UCT) law professor, author and political analyst Richard Calland in his latest episode of Eusebius on TimesLIVE. They discuss whether a mandatory state vaccination policy will pass the rights limitations test of the constitution.

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