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Dr Zelini Mkhize confirmed that the total number of positive Covid-19 cases for today Saturday, 28 March, is 1187. He said that these numbers do not indicate a reduction in the number of infections. It is merely a reflection of positive results that were received, verified and ready for today’s reporting.
Breakdown by province
Western Cape 271
kwaZulu – Natal 156
Free State 68
North West 6
Eastern Cape 10
Northern Cape 5
Health workers infected
Mkhize said: “ We have noted with concern a number of confirmed Covid-19 cases of health workers who work both in the private and public hospitals. This includes doctor and nurses. We mention this because health workers are in the frontline of this battle. They are exposed not only to their families but to the patients who they are meant to treat. “
Some of the confirmed Covid-19 cases that involve health workers are as follows:
- Limpopo – One medical doctor tested positive after he had travelled abroad for holiday and started experiencing symptoms on his return. He immediately decided to quarantine himself. This young doctor remained in quarantine to ensure that he does not transmit the virus to other people. His 14 day quarantine period has ended and his results have now been confirmed negative.
- Mpumalanga – One medical doctor who had also travelled for a holiday abroad returned to the province with symptoms which emerged a few days after he returned. Before then, he had been having interactions with staff and patients. He then tested positive and was quarantined. This led to other health workers who had come into contact with him to be screened, quarantined and tested. A decision was also made for that section of the hospital to be closed in order to disinfect it. This has been completed and it will be reopening during the course of next week.
- Free State – Three doctors, one nurse and one neurophysicist have tested positive for Covid-19.
- Gauteng – six medical doctors have been infected in Gauteng.
All these health workers are in a good medical condition with most of them having mild or no symptoms. It is only one doctor in the Free State aged 70, who is in ICU. None of these health workers were infected by patients that they were treating. They came into contact with their family members, friends and other colleagues who had tested positive for Covid-19. All individuals who were identified as contacts of these health workers have been put in quarantine and are being monitored.
Flu Vaccines : South Africa received a very limited stock of flu vaccines. These are pre-ordered a year in advance. At the time the country (both public and private) placed its orders, we had not anticipated this Covid-19 pandemic. This means that as it stands, our flu vaccines are under stocked. Government has engaged with the pharmaceutical industry and it became clear that the distribution of this vaccine has to be rationalised and prioritised. Health workers in the country will be given priority in receiving the flu vaccine. This is precipitated by the fact that the country cannot afford to have them sick especially as the flu season approaches. This is one of the major lessons that we have learnt from countries that have experienced the COVID-19 pandemic.
“We therefore plead for the understanding of all South Africans who may unfortunately not have access to the flu vaccine this year, said Mkhize.
South Africa is participating in the Public Health Emergency Solidarity Trial that has been initiated by the World Health Organisation to conduct a clinical trial to find effective treatment for Covid-19. WHO has convened an independent group of experts to review evidence from laboratory, animal and clinical studies to prioritize treatments for inclusion in the trial.
This independent group identified the following treatment options for inclusion in the trial:
- Remdesivir : a drug which was previous used in an Ebola trial
- Lopinavir/ritonavir : a licensed treatment for HIV/AIDS – Lopinavir/ritonavir with interferon beta-1a : used for multiple sclerosis
- Chloroquine or hydroxychloroquine: drugs used to treat malaria and rheumatology conditions respectively.
All participating countries will adhere to the same methodology in order to facilitate the worldwide comparison of unproven treatments. Other countries that have already confirmed their participation in this trial are Argentina, Bahrain, Canada, France, Iran, Norway, Spain, Switzerland and Thailand.
The South African Solidarity research team is led by Professors Helen Rees and Jeremy Nel, working with 30 senior academics, researchers and clinicians from eight medical schools in the country (WITS, SMU, UP, UCT, Stellenbosch, NMU, UKZN, UFS, and the SA Military Health Service). They will be undertaking the study in fourteen leading hospitals across the country.
Citizens from Wuhan
Three weeks ago, President Ramaphosa bid farewell to brave men and women from the SANDF, SAA pilots and crew members, and the National Department of Health doctors who were travelling to Wuhan, China to fetch citizens. As it is known, they returned to South Africa and were staying at The Ranch Hotel, in Limpopo. These citizens were all negative, they did not present any symptoms and therefore did not pose any risk of infection. Extra precautions were taken and they were quarantined for a 14 day period. On arrival medical screening and Covid-19 tests were conducted. They all came out negative.
Mkhize said: “ We are very pleased to report that these citizens conducted their second test in preparation for their exit. These have all come out negative. They are therefore being prepared for vacating the Ranch Hotel. “
Mkhize thanked the Limpopo Provincial Government and the people of Limpopo who despite their initial reservation, they came out in full support and assisted in making this mission a success. He also thanked the Ranch Hotel and all its workers who were prepared to serve their compatriots, despite this pandemic being taboo in the country at the time.
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A shop owner from Phoenix was allegedly arrested recently after an investigation was conducted by officials from the EDTEA’s Consumer Protection Services (CPS). This, after the MEC for Economic Development, Tourism and Environmental Affairs (EDTA), Nomusa Dube-Ncube issued a warning to retailers and also encouraged consumers to lodge complaints of goods and essential goods being sold at inflated prices.
The owner of Longbury Meat Market (LMM) is accused of allegedly contravening the Consumer Protection Act Regulations and the Disaster Management Act Regulations which were issued by the Minister of the Trade, Industry and Competition, Ebrahim Patel, on 24 March.
According to the regulations, the owner would have to pay a fine of R1 million or up to 10 percent of his business’s annual turnover, if found guilty. There is a possibility of imprisonment not exceeding 12 months.
Mohamed Araff Ismail, managing member of LMM, issued a statement saying that the negative publicity on social media against his store relating to the alleged hike of meat prices was unjustified and “ although directed at having a deterrent effect, was completely misplaced.”
The statement further read: “It was unfounded and ill-founded, given the consumer protection representative’s reluctance to listen to the logical and truthful explanation which the LMM representative attempted to advance. “
Ismail said that the motive was to find a ‘scape-goat’ and publish this on social media to demonstrate that the CPS was effectively complying with its mandate but the truth is that LMM’s stocks were depleted and trading had paused for a short while to take delivery of new stocks, which were purchased at slightly higher rates. In the ordinary course of its business, LMM then computed its selling price on its usual profit mark-up ie it did not generate any more profit on its new stocks than it did on its old stocks.
“ The CPS representative appeared to be intentionally intransigent and declined to see evidence of invoices etc offered by LMM management. Shortly thereafter a publication appeared on social media that the representative of LMM had been arrested in connection with ‘hiking’ prices and that he admitted to having done so. This was extremely deceptive reporting and surreptitious, “ said Ismail.
Ismail said that they have engaged legal services to sue for defamation of character through innuendo. “ The social media publication conveyed that the owner of LMM ‘admitted to hiking prices’. This constitutes an intentional misrepresentation as he admitted having increased prices in the ordinary course of business, “ said Ismail.
Ismail added that the incorrect perception conveyed by a publication reported to have been issued by the Minister of Trade and Industry is extremely unfortunate and counter-productive. “ It is to be hoped that such unfortunate conduct will be deterred in the future by the legal proceedings which LMM contemplates instituting against the Minister of Trade, Industry and Competition and the CPS. “ said Ismail.
Meanwhile, Dube-Ncube said that the department is intensifying the implementation of a zero-tolerance policy towards price gougers who are using the coronavirus outbreak to sell much-needed food and other products, at inflated prices. Dube -Ncube said the investigation was done following complaints of price hiking.
Dube – Ncube said that the department is investigating other cases in the province and has referred the matter to SAPS for investigation, and to the National Consumer Commission (NCC) and Competition Commission (CC).
“In order to protect consumers from exploitation during the lockdown, the department has engaged the services of the Consumer Goods Scheme Ombudsman who has warned retailers and airlines of the consequences of non-compliance with the Consumer Protection Act. He has emphasized that consumers have the right to refund,” said Dube-Ncube.
She added that as guided by the law, the department will intensify investigating complaints around excessive pricing by retailers. “We have strengthened our partnership with the SAPS, the NCC and the Consumer Goods Council of South Africa. A team of experienced officials are on standby to investigate complaints regarding excessive pricing, “ said Dube-Ncube.
Their contact details are as follows: email: Consumer [email protected], WhatsApp: 082 458 0706 / 082 374 6660.
A team of Rhodes University scientists has started producing hand sanitiser, to urgently address the shortage in the province. Handwashing and, in the absence of a reliable water supply hand sanitiser, is an important way to slow the spread of the novel coronavirus (Covid-19) and the team set up a production laboratory to help address the current nationwide shortage. Meanwhile, the University’s Housekeeping division made protective masks for workers at the frontline of managing the crisis.
Led by Professor Rod Walker, a registered Pharmacist with the South African Pharmacy Council, the production of sanitiser began on Friday, 20 March 2020 when the University’s suppliers of sanitiser were not able to meet its demand.
“We made the first batch for the University’s central cleaning services and made two batches for a local non-profit organisation, Ubunye Foundation,” said Walker.
The team, which includes postgraduate students in the Sterile Products Laboratory in the Faculty of Pharmacy, aims to produce between 300 and 450 litres a day. The sanitisers are made strictly according to the World Health Organisation guidelines.
“We give each product a batch number for traceability purposes and we keep samples of each batch so that if any fault is found, we can easily check against the sample. Each bottle is labelled with a list of excipients, in case any person is sensitive or allergic to any of them,” Walker added.An excipient is the medium that the active sanitising agents are carried in – “an inactive substance that serves as the vehicle or medium for a drug or other active substance” (Oxford Online Dictionary).
Dean of Pharmacy and Head of the Pharmaceutics Department, Associate Professor Sandile Khamanga, said it was fitting that Rhodes University assists in the fight against the spread of Covid-19, as it has the facilities and expertise to do so.
The Makhanda based South African Institute for Aquatic Biodiversity (SAIAB) donated 1250 litres of ethanol in support of this initiative. SAIAB Managing Director Angus Paterson said they had been producing their own sanitisers, and when they heard Rhodes University was assisting the Province, they wanted to assist.
“As soon as we heard, we asked for clearance from the South African Revenue Service (SARS), as ethanol is a rebate item. They were very efficient in giving us the go ahead within an hour. In this way are responding to the President’s call of Thuma Mina,” he said.
Rhodes University, working closely with a number of partners including the Eastern Cape Provincial government and the Makhanda business community has put out a call for support in terms of the materials required to produce and package the sanitisers and any other support necessary during this time of crisis – including ethanol and spray bottles.
The Rhodes University housekeeping team are also making facemasks for hospitals and clinics in Makhanda. Conference Manager and supervisor of the team, Charmaine Avery, said they had started making mask on Wednesday.
“This is our commitment to our community and the civil servants who will be in the frontline during this lockdown,” Avery said. “We need to make sure that they are safe. We will leave them at our Campus Protection Unit for clinics, hospitals, the army and police to come and collect.”
High Court denies man’s urgent application to travel between provinces for his grandfather’s funeral
local news, breaking news, news headlines, News headlines, Local news, News, Top stories, Special categories, durban, , top storiesKwaZulu-Natal Premier, Sihle Zikalala
KwaZulu-Natal Premier, Sihle Zikalala, held a session with the Provincial Command Team yesterday, 27 March, to provide comprehensive responses to the numerous challenges faced during the scourge of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The session began by offering the city’s condolences to the family of the first fatality of the virus and then went on to assess the early hours of the lockdown as well as the response by members of the public.
In the initial report, the premier commended and thanked those members of public who adhered to the regulations imposed by the president during the lockdown.
“Indeed the overwhelming majority of our citizens as expected of them abided by the directives and we appreciate them for continuing to play their part in our effort to emerge victorious from this battle,” said Zikalala.
However, it had been established that there were still people who flooded shopping malls and engaged in panic buying, this prompted the staging of roadblocks and a number of vehicles were sent back.
The premier was also concerned about people being stranded and left without public transport after 9am yesterday. Zikalala announced that there would be a meeting to form a contingency plan with regards to transport.
In spite of the challenges faced by the country, the premier reiterated the province’s commitment to be the leading economy in the nation with the largest contribution to South Africa’s GDP and are putting measures in place to cushion all sectors of the economy against the impact of the pandemic.
“We also wish to send a strong warning to retailers who have been raising food prices in the wake of the outbreak of COVID-19. We want to protect our consumers during this period,” said Zikalala.
Zikalala acknowledged that the shortage of masks for healthcare workers was indeed a challenge, however, was pleased to announce that 100 000 masks were donated to the province by a Chinese organisation based in Guangdong. He said that the masks are currently being distributed to areas which need it the most.
Zikalala concluded the session by saying that these were not big challenges and with an emergency of this kind, there are bound to be teething challenges which can be overcome.
“As we navigate ourselves out of this storm, we remain confident that South Africans will continue to respond positively to our fight against this pandemic, which is the greatest threat to our lives,” said Zikalala.
KZN MEC for Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs (Cogta) Sipho Hlomuka has reassured residents across the province that essential services provided by municipalities, such as waste removal, water, sanitation, electricity and disaster management, will continue uninterrupted as the province and country embark on a 21 day lockdown as announced by the president to fight against the spread of Covid-19.
The department has issued a directive to municipalities in the province for municipal managers to sign letters which will be given to employees who perform essential services so that they can be able to move around unrestricted as they go about their jobs in line with the Disaster Management Act, 2002.
“During this difficult time we are faced with as a province, it is crucial that the sphere of local government plays its part as it is at the coalface of service delivery which is essential to the wellbeing of communities. In the engagements we have had with municipalities, we have emphasised the importance of implementing work from home measures where possible,” said Hlomuka.
“The success of the lockdown as announced by Cyril Ramaphosa depends on all of us playing our part as the sphere of local government and the institution of traditional leadership,” added Hlomuka.
The department also continues to support municipalities across the province with the provision of Jojo tanks. Since last April, the department has distributed 2300 Jojo tanks, and R160 millions worth of plant equipment which includes water tankers, waste trucks, honey suckers, TLBs, graders and other equipment with the aim of speeding up the delivery of services.
While the fiscal space in the sphere of local government is constrained, Hlomuka has assured residents that municipalities will do their best to ensure that services are uninterrupted.
A 21-year-old taxi hitman was arrested during intensive multi-disciplinary operations by police units in Ulundi, on 27 March, three days after an Ulundi taxi driver was killed.
Police reported that a 59-year-old Ulundi man was found dead inside his minibus taxi at Ulundi Plaza near the furniture shop on 24 March. The operation led police to Bhodludaka Reserve at Mahlabathini where a 21-year old suspect was found.
He was arrested and police confiscated a firearm with 11 rounds of ammunition as well the clothing he allegedly wore on the day of the murder.
The suspect will be charged for murder and possession of firearm as well as ammunition. He is expected to appear in the Mahlabathini Magistrates Court. The firearm will be subjected for ballasting testing to determine if it was used in the murder and other serious crimes.
On Monday evening, when President Ramaphosa announced a 21-day national lockdown to disrupt the spread of COVID-19, he also announced a set of interventions to “cushion our society” against the economic and human consequences of the impending lockdown. These interventions include a Solidarity Fund financed mainly by voluntary donations, a Temporary Employee Relief Scheme (TERS) for employees of companies in distress, and a tax subsidy for low-income private sector workers.
These and other mitigation measures are necessary and welcome. But there is a sense that the government is more concerned with protecting the economy (R3 billion of funding for vulnerable firms from the Industrial Development Corporation (IDC)) than protecting the wellbeing of the most vulnerable people (just R150 million of seed capital from the government for the Solidarity Fund).
Will informal sector workers be covered by the safety net? In his speech the President mentioned business, companies, firms, SMEs and the private sector 35 times. He mentioned the informal sector just once: “A safety net is being developed to support persons in the informal sector, where most businesses will suffer as a result of this shutdown.” The Rupert and Oppenheimer families each donated R1 billion towards this safety net, “to assist small businesses and their employees”. But the reality is that the most vulnerable working-age adults are unemployed, self-employed, students, or working in precarious employment in the service sector (cleaners, waitrons, car guards, etc.). Most have no access to social grants or the Unemployment Insurance Fund (UIF). Will these people be reached by the COVID-19 safety net?
Domestic workers and seasonal farm workers, among others, will effectively become unemployed during the lockdown. Some employers will do the right thing and pay their workers for the days they are unable to work in the coming weeks, but many will not. With reduced income and no meals at school for their children to supplement meals at home (see below), the food security and nutrition of all family members will certainly suffer.
The President asked South Africans not to act “in their own selfish interests” during this crisis. But tougher action is called for. Some firms are already being investigated for hiking prices to profiteer from panic buying. All employers must be compelled to continue employing workers on full pay during the lockdown, and must not be allowed to either fire workers or leave them sitting at home with no pay. Employers that genuinely struggle to cover wage costs should receive assistance from the IDC and TERS. Employers that can afford to pay their workers but choose not to do so should be reported for non-compliance, prosecuted, fined and ordered to pay compensation.
Children – The President did not mention children once in his speech on Monday. 12 million children receive the Child Support Grant every month. We know that the CSG is not sufficient to meet the child’s nutritional needs. One in four children in South Africa are already malnourished. This statistic shames us, as an upper-middle-income country, at the best of times. COVID-19 threatens to make it even worse.
More than 9 million schoolchildren from poor families receive meals every school day. With all schools in South Africa now closed, that vital source of food has stopped indefinitely. In the Western Cape, the Peninsula School Feeding Association responded by raising additional funds so that their food handlers can prepare a free nutritious daily lunch for 4,200 children at community kitchens around Cape Town. This is a commendable response, but it will reach only a tiny fraction of needy children, in a relatively privileged metropolitan area.
What more should be done? The National School Nutrition Programme could continue to provide meals to poor children and their families throughout the country, either for collection from schools or served from mobile kitchens located temporarily in disadvantaged communities. The Department of Social Development could authorise a double payment of social grants in April, to boost the purchasing power of millions of families who depend on these grants to supplement their inadequate incomes – which in many cases will fall to zero income in the coming weeks.
Emergency Hardship Fund – The Solidarity Fund is necessary and will make some difference. But it is not enough. It has too many objectives – “focus efforts to combat the spread of the virus, help us to track the spread, care for those who are ill and support those whose lives are disrupted” – and not enough money – just R150m from Government.
A designated Emergency Hardship Fund is needed that will deliver an effective and guaranteed safety net for those whose livelihoods will be cut off during the lockdown. Instead of putting in seed money and soliciting donations, the government must guarantee to replace the lost income of all individuals who face the prospect of “no work no pay” at least until Friday 17 April.
Will this be expensive? Of course. But what is the cost of not putting such an emergency safety net in place? Household food insecurity and child malnutrition will rise. Poverty will rise. We will all lose.
Author Stephen Devereux NRF–Newton Fund (SA-UK) Research Chair in Social Protection for Food Security |DSI–NRF Centre of Excellence in Food Security | University of the Western Cape
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