President Cyril Ramaphosa to address the nation tonight,He is set to reintroduce a number of lockdown restrictions as the country grapples with a surge in coronavirus cases, the SA TIMES reports.
The reintroduction of restrictions comes after a meeting of the National Coronavirus Command Council (NCCC) and the cabinet, as well as a number of consultations with top scientific advisers.
Some of the restrictions which are set to be introduced include:
- The reintroduction of the night-time curfew;
- Stricter regulations on the sale of alcohol;
- Limiting movement between provinces;
- Enforcing a limited load in minibus taxis and other modes of public transport.
Presidential spokesperson Khusela Diko confirmed to the paper that the president will address the nation on Sunday evening (12 July), but would not say what he is likely to announce.
Health minister Zweli Mkhize said on Friday (10 July), that a worrying trend was that hospital causality rooms have been overloaded since alcohol restrictions were relaxed under lockdown level 3.
Research suggests that there has been a 200% increase in trauma patients in Intensive Care Units (ICUs), he said.
“People come in with stab wounds, gunshots, some of those involved in accidents. We found that a good percentage of them have a higher level of alcohol content in their system. It’s not theory, but facts for us,” said the minister.
“We have tabled this issue so that the NCCC (National Coronavirus Command Council) must consider because we think while we are going through this situation, it’s a matter that we must look at.”
Ramaphosa has reportedly shot down a move to a higher lockdown level or the reintroduction of ‘intermittent lockdowns’ in areas of the country which have seen the most coronavirus cases.
This aligns with comments he made last week where he indicated that the government is trying to strike a delicate balance between the loss of lives, and saving jobs.
“Another hard lockdown is not being considered for now, the issue of jobs lost concerns us. Other countries are experiencing even bigger losses. We are developing various other ways of responding to this,” said the president.
The exponential increase in Covid-19 cases ignited fierce debate across society with a hard lockdown proposed as a measure to curb the country’s rising infections.
President Ramaphosa said the government would rather consider other options in the “toolbox” in fighting the pandemic.
He said the increase in numbers was expected but the National Coronavirus Command Council will examine the situation in the hardest-hit provinces such as Eastern Cape, Gauteng and Western Cape.
As of Saturday (11 July), there are now 264,184 total cases of coronavirus in South Africa. This is an increase of 13,497 cases from the 250,687 cases reported on Friday.
Total casualties in the country now sit at 3,971 casualties, with 127,715 recoveries reported to date. A total of 2.1 million tests have been conducted to date.
The latest number of confirmed cases is 264 184.
According to the latest update, 3 971 deaths have been recorded in the country.
There have been 127 715 recoveries.
So far, 2 108 570 tests have been conducted, with 51 388 new tests.
Five police stations in Limpopo, three in the Free State and one in Gauteng have been closed after positive Covid-19 cases were reported.
Temporary arrangements have been made for the provision of police services, with mobile and community centres in place where needed.
All buildings where positive test cases were found, will be closed for contamination in the meantime.
On Friday, Police Minister Bheki Cele stated that policing during the Covid-19 pandemic had “come at a cost”.
“The virus has infected over 5 000 SAPS members, resulting in the decontamination of hundreds of police stations across the country. Sadly, Covid-19 has claimed the lives of 36 members,” the minister said.
While travelling across provinces and staying in hotels and other permitted forms of accommodation are currently only reserved for essential business purposes, an announcement from the Presidency’s social media that interprovincial accommodation for leisure purposes would be allowed, came as a surprise.
The posts were initially welcomed by the Western Cape government in a statement. “What this means is that families who live in the province can now spend a weekend away at their favourite getaway spot, and enjoy the best that the Western Cape has to offer, while doing so safely and responsibly,” said David Maynier, Western Cape minister of finance and economic opportunities.
Unfortunately, the Presidency deleted this announcement on Saturday morning, saying that the post was an error.
The Solidarity Fund is set to purchase critical medical equipment worth R405 million – including hospital beds, ventilators and high-flow oxygen devices – for Gauteng, the Western Cape and Eastern Cape.
In a statement on Friday, Solidarity Fund interim CEO Nomkhita Nqweni said the fund would purchase medical equipment for Gauteng hospitals – including the Nasrec field hospital – beds and ventilators for the Western Cape, and ward capacity and oxygen devices in the Eastern Cape.
“As the Covid-19 pandemic intensifies across South Africa and the country braces for an expected surge in hospital admissions, the Solidarity Fund has responded by approving an additional R405m towards the purchase of critical healthcare equipment for the public hospital system in the hotspots of Gauteng, Western Cape and the Eastern Cape,” she stated.
The number of Covid-19 patients admitted to hospitals in Gauteng is “rising very fast”, which coincides with the drastic increase in confirmed cases of the virus in the province, but hospitals have still not reached capacity, said Minister of Health Dr Zweli Mkhize.
Mkhize, along with Gauteng Health MEC Dr Bandile Masuku, visited the Tshwane district hospital on Friday to assess the preparations as Covid-19 cases begin to surge in the province.
“We have indicated in the past few days, as we have done in the past few months, that the surge is upon us at this point. This is the beginning of what we related to be a storm that we must raise up for,” Mkhize said.
“What we are now seeing is the numbers have started building up to a large degree, more patients are coming to hospital; as a result, the beds that we have are under pressure.”
A French bus driver who was badly beaten by passengers after asking them to wear face masks in line with coronavirus rules has died, his family said, sparking tributes from political leaders who condemned his “cowardly” attackers.
Philippe Monguillot, 59, was left brain dead by the attack in the southwestern town of Bayonne last weekend and died in hospital on Friday, his daughter Marie said, after his family decided to switch off his life-support system.
“We decided to let him go. The doctors were in favour and we were as well,” she told AFP.
Two men have been charged with attempted murder over the attack and prosecutor Jerome Bourrier told AFP that he would ask for the charges to be upgraded following Monguillot’s death.
France’s prime minister Jean Castex led tributes to Monguillot.
You’ve probably heard the term “herd immunity” thrown about in arguments for and against pandemic lockdowns.
The idea is that if enough people are infected and recover from the coronavirus, they will have developed antibodies against it, which will prevent the virus from spreading to those without immunity.
But a massive country-wide study from Spain – hard-hit in the early stages of the global outbreak – may have derailed this argument completely with its latest findings.
Published in The Lancet and commissioned by the Spanish Ministry of Health and the Institute of Health Carlos III, just over 61 000 people in almost 36 000 households were tested for antibodies between April and May just after the country reached its peak.
Only 5% of them tested positive for Covid-19 antibodies on average, while in hotspot areas like Madrid it hovered at around 10%. Provinces along the coast had lower seroprevalence.
In order to achieve herd immunity, you would need about 60% immunity.
As Covid-19 infections and deaths rise among older persons (people older than 60) in South Africa, old age residential facilities are battling with costly interventions to keep residents safe.
Questions have also been raised as to whether the Department of Social Development (DSD) that funds many of these facilities is providing the necessary support.
Globally, countries such as Sweden and the United States have reported a shocking number of infections and deaths in their care facilities. An article in Business Live showed that 79% of the total number of deaths in Sweden were in care homes or of older persons receiving home care. According to the New York Times, 43% of Covid-19 deaths in the US can be traced back to care facilities for older persons.
The daily Covid-19 updates from the Ministry of Health, give provincial breakdowns of positive cases, testing data, deaths and recoveries and sometimes a breakdown of deaths by age. By 1 July statistics showed 1 541 of 2 749 deaths were recorded among people 60 years and older.
According to Connie Nxumalo, the Deputy Director-General of Welfare Services at the DSD, 69 care facilities across the country have reported Covid-19 infections. The total number of infections across these facilities are 520 (237 residents and 283 staff), and there have been 35 deaths among residents.
The Western Cape has the highest number of facilities affected, with 352 cases (both staff and residents) across 39 facilities, and 27 deaths. Gauteng is next in line with 122 cases (both staff and residents) in 17 different facilities and 5 deaths, says Nxumalo.