COVID-19 WRAP | SA records 5,244 new Covid-19 cases

14 January 2022 - 06:42
By TimesLIVE
Trailers are lined up on a highway near the Bolivian border amid a backlog of Covid-19 testing that would allow truckers to enter Chile, in Tambo Quemado, Bolivia, on January 13 2022.
Image: REUTERS/Claudia Morales Trailers are lined up on a highway near the Bolivian border amid a backlog of Covid-19 testing that would allow truckers to enter Chile, in Tambo Quemado, Bolivia, on January 13 2022.

January 14 2022 - 20:13

SA's total Covid-related deaths reach 93,117

The total number of recorded Covid-19 related fatalities in SA climbed to 93,117 with an additional 128 deaths reported on Friday.

“Of these, 59 occurred in the past 24 to 48 hours,” the National Institute for Communicable Diseases (NICD) said in an update.

January 14 2022 - 17:19

Spectators allowed at school sports events as state of disaster is extended

Co-operative governance and traditional affairs minister Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma has extended SA's national state of disaster by another month.

Dlamini-Zuma signed an extension, published in the government gazette on Friday, until February 2022 as the country remains under adjusted level 1 of the national lockdown.

March will mark two years since SA was first put into a state of national disaster when the first positive Covid-19 case was detected in KwaZulu-Natal.

January 14 2022 - 15:07

LISTEN | Can't shake your Covid-19 symptoms? Here's why

Between 25% and 30% of all people who contract and survive Covid-19 will continue to suffer from "long Covid", which is the persistence of Covid-19 symptoms three months from the time a person stops being infectious.

January 14 2022 - 13:39

Study suggests Omicron less severe even for unvaccinated

Unvaccinated people infected with the Omicron variant of coronavirus may be less prone to severe illness and requiring hospital care or dying than was the case with previous variants, a SA study showed on Friday.

The study, by the National Institute of Communicable Diseases (NICD) in the Western Cape — which has not yet been peer-reviewed — compared about 11,600 patients from the first three Covid-19 waves with about 5,100 from the Omicron-driven wave that began in November.

January 14 2022 - 13:33

Festive season hampered Covid-19 vaccination drive: Joe Phaahla

The government’s vaccination programme suffered during the festive season because many were focused on spending time with loved ones rather than getting the Covid-19 jab.

This is according to health minister Joe Phaahla, who together with a panel of health experts on Friday provided an update on the vaccination rollout programme and the government’s fight against the pandemic.

“Our vaccination programme struggled over the festive season. As we reported on December 17, all provinces took steps to improve access with mobile and pop-up sites at places including toll gates, roadblocks and shopping malls, and even at the beachfront in Durban. The uptake of these opportunities was not very big as people focused on their festivities and leisure,” Phaahla said.

January 14 2022 - 13:07

Here’s where we are with vaccinations, hospitalisations and new cases

Health minister Joe Phaahla says Covid-19 vaccination numbers remain low and the department did not see the expected uptake over the festive season.

On Friday he said there were concerns around the impact of the fourth wave as more people travelled between provinces during the festive season.

In a joint press briefing with the National Institute for Communicable Diseases (NICD), Phaahla reiterated the Omicron variant was “very deadly” and people with comorbidities, the elderly and unvaccinated people were at a higher risk of infection, hospitalisation and death. Here are five things you need to know about Covid-19 in SA:

January 14 2022 - 12:39

Gauteng has exited fourth wave of Covid-19: health minister Joe Phaahla

Health minister Joe Phaahla says Gauteng has exited the fourth wave of Covid-19 infections.

Phaahla and a panel of health experts were on Friday providing an update on the national vaccination rollout programme and government’s efforts in the fight against the pandemic.

Phaahla said there has been a decrease in new Covid-19 cases nationally compared to the previous week: “Gauteng has officially exited the fourth wave in terms of the technical definition of a wave.”

January 14 2022 - 12:36

J&J booster 85% effective against hospitalisation by Omicron for 1-2 months — SA study

A Johnson & Johnson (J&J) Covid-19 vaccine booster shot is 85% effective in protecting against being hospitalised by the Omicron variant for 1-2 months after it is received, the head of the SA Medical Research Council (SAMRC) said on Friday.

Prof Glenda Grey presented the findings of a SAMRC study at a health ministry briefing on the Covid-19 fourth wave, which has been driven by the new variant.

“We saw an 85% vaccine effectiveness and we saw that this kind of vaccine effectiveness is maintained for up to two months,” she said. “We are very happy to report very high levels of vaccine effectiveness against Omicron.”

January 14 2022 - 11:16

Australia cancels Djokovic's visa for second time citing health risk

Australia cancelled Novak Djokovic's visa for a second time on Friday saying the world tennis number one who has not been vaccinated for Covid-19 may pose a health risk, effectively ending his bid for a record 21st Grand Slam title at the Australian Open.

Immigration minister Alex Hawke used discretionary powers to again cancel Djokovic's visa, after a court quashed an earlier revocation and released him from immigration detention on Monday.

“Today I exercised my power under section 133C(3) of the Migration Act to cancel the visa held by Mr Novak Djokovic on health and good order grounds, on the basis that it was in the public interest to do so,” Hawke said in a statement.

January 14 2022 - 10:35

Sports minister Nathi Mthethwa says cabinet discussing fans in stadiums

Minister of sport Nathi Mthethwa says high-level government discussions are under way to explore the possibility of increasing the number of spectators allowed at stadiums.

The department of sport also hit back at recent persistent calls by certain figures for government to reopen up stadiums saying they are “uninformed”.

EFF leader Julius Malema has led calls for the government to reopen stadiums for crowds at professional sport events, particularly Premier Soccer League matches. The SA Sports Confederation and Olympic Committee (Sascoc) said it would push for half-capacity crowds in sports grounds from next month.

January 14 2022 - 10:32

WATCH LIVE | Health ministry briefs media on vaccination rollout

Health minister Joe Phaahla and deputy health minister Sibongiseni Dhlomo have convened a virtual media briefing on the government’s efforts in the fight against Covid-19 and the national vaccination rollout programme.

January 14 2022 - 10:00

Explained: Why you should still avoid Omicron

It is not time to be complacent about Omicron, experts say, amid a growing view that Covid-19 poses less of a risk than in the past. Here’s why you should still try to avoid catching Omicron

January 14 2022 - 09:15

US Supreme Court blocks President Biden's vaccine mandate for large businesses

The US Supreme Court blocked President Joe Biden's Covid-19 vaccination-or-testing mandate for large businesses, while endorsing a separate federal vaccine requirement for healthcare facilities.

January 14 2022 - 08:56

Over a million Indians to gather beside Ganges, defying Covid-19 surge

Hundreds of thousands of Hindu worshippers are expected to gather on the banks of the Ganges river on Friday for a holy bathe despite a 30-fold rise in coronavirus cases in the past one month.

A large number of devotees are expected to take a holy dip in the sacred river that flows through the eastern state of West Bengal, which is reporting the most number of cases in the country after Maharashtra state in the west.

In the most populous state of Uttar Pradesh, thousands of devotees are likely to throng at banks of the Ganges river in the holy city of Prayagraj, as Hindus celebrate the Makarsankranti festival.

January 14 2022 - 07:30

China stocks fall on real estate sector worries, Covid-19 outbreaks

China stocks fell on Friday as real estate sector woes continued to weigh on investor sentiment, while recent Covid-19 outbreaks in the country added to worries about the effect on the economy. – Reuters

January 14 2022 - 07:15

Philippines extends coronavirus curbs in capital region until end-Jan

The Philippines' coronavirus task force will extend coronavirus curbs in the capital region and other provinces until the end of January, acting presidential spokesperson Karlo Nograles said on Friday.

The Southeast Asian nation is battling its biggest surge in Covid-19 cases, driven by the more infectious Omicron variant, disrupting business operations and government services. – Reuters

January 14 2022 - 07:00

Do I have malaria or Covid-19?

The National Institute for Communicable Diseases (NICD) says people who may have contracted malaria during the festive season may struggle to differentiate between it and Covid-19 as they have similar symptoms. 

The institute says malaria requires immediate medical intervention as it poses an immediate threat when compared with Covid-19.

If you travelled to a malaria-endemic area and start to feel ill, it’s important to understand the differences between malaria and Covid-19 as they share symptoms. Malaria may pose a more immediate threat than Covid-19, so it is essential to seek medical help promptly,” said the institute.

January 14 2022 - 06:40

Fifth wave hits parts of Africa and – surprise, surprise – unvaxxed bear brunt

Eight African countries are already in their fifth wave of the pandemic and the continent has “hit the important milestone” of more than 10-million Covid-19 infections said Dr John Nkengasong, director of the Africa Centres for Disease Control and Prevention, on Thursday.

Covid-19 deaths have been lower in the steeper and briefer Omicron-driven fourth wave than previous waves, but they still soared over the festive season, bringing the total number of people who have died to more than 223,000 this week.

Deaths rose on average by a third (33%) in the four weeks to January 9, and Nigeria was the worst affected with a 299% average increase, the Africa CDC chief reported. In the past seven days, deaths jumped by nearly two thirds (64%) compared to the week before, according to the latest report by the World Health Organisation Africa region.

January 14 2022 - 06:00

New numbers should add up to the end of the Covid-19 disaster: Winde

Prior infection and vaccination have reduced the severity of Covid-19 during the Omicron-driven fourth wave, according to a study of nearly 17,000 patients in the Western Cape.

A team of 46 scientists led by Mary-Ann Davies of the provincial health intelligence unit estimated the Omicron variant’s reduced virulence may account for about a quarter of the reduced risk of hospitalisation or death compared with Delta, the variant behind the third wave.

Reporting their findings on Wednesday in a preprint that has not yet been peer-reviewed, the team said antibody protection — or seroprevalence — from previous infection was estimated at 70%, and was particularly strong “in poorer communities where social distancing is challenging”.