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South Africa’s COVID-19 death toll seven shy of 50 000 as country moves to Level 1
28 February 2021, 10:02 PM

South Africa’s coronavirus (COVID-19) death toll is seven shy of breaking the 50 000 mark. This after the country recorded a further 52 COVID-19-related deaths on Sunday, bringing the total number of deaths to 49 993. 

The country has recorded 1 168 new COVID-19 infections in the last reporting period, bringing the cumulative number of infections to 1 513 393.

The latest figures are 279 less than the number of infections recorded on Saturday evening, indicating a steady decline in the number of new infections. 

This comes moments after President Cyril Ramaphosa announced that the country was in a position to move to Level 1 of the lockdown. 

The country has now clearly emerged from the second wave. New infections, admissions to hospital and deaths have fallen significantly and continue to decline steadily. In the week that has just passed, the country recorded just under 10 000 new infections,” announced Ramaphosa.  

We were able to emerge from the second wave because most people adhered to the tighter restrictions and observed the basic health protocols, including wearing masks in public and social distancing.” 

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Recoveries currently stand at 1 430 259, representing a recovery rate of 94,5%, with 33 141 active cases.  

Ramaphosa said  South Africa has secured 11 million COVID-19 vaccine doses with Johnson & Johnson.

“2.8 million of those doses will be delivered in the second quarter, with the rest spread over the rest of the year.”

Over 67 000 healthcare workers have already been vaccinated.  

President Ramaphosa addresses the Nation on COVID-19 response:

South Africa moves to Level 1 as number of new infections drops
28 February 2021, 8:43 PM

President Cyril Ramaphosa has delivered an upbeat address to the nation regarding the COVID-19 pandemic, announcing a return to Level 1 of the lockdown, adding that the vaccine rollout has gone extremely well. He was addressing the nation on Sunday evening.

The President says South Africa has clearly emerged from the second wave of coronavirus.   

Under Level 1, the curfew starts at midnight and ends at 4am.  

Gatherings will be allowed but must be limited to 100 people indoors and 250 people outdoors.  

Night vigils after funerals are still not permitted.  

Alcohol sales are allowed in normal trading hours but are not allowed during curfew hours.   

The 33 land border posts that have been closed throughout this period will remain closed, while the other 20 will remain open,” Ramaphosa says.  

Five airports will be open

Only five airports will be open for international travel with standard infection control measures. These are OR Tambo, Cape Town, King Shaka, Kruger Mpumalanga and Lanseria airports. 

President Ramaphosa says people must still adhere to protocols like wearing masks, which remain mandatory. 

’11 million vaccine doses’ 

Ramaphosa says South Africa has secured 11 million COVID-19 vaccine doses with Johnson & Johnson. “2.8 million of those doses will be delivered in the second quarter, with the rest spread over the rest of the year.”

Over 67 000 healthcare workers have already been vaccinated. 

The President says the success of the vaccine rollout shows what can be achieved when South Africans work together.  He says South Africa has clearly emerged from the second wave of the coronavirus.  

Ramaphosa says this is mainly because people adhere to protocols. But he has warned of the new variant. 

The new variant – known as 501Y.v2 – is now the dominant variant in the country. Because the new variant is transmitted more easily, it has the potential to infect more people, place a greater strain on our health system and lead to a greater loss of life. Therefore, social distancing is even more critical,” says Ramaphosa. 

President Ramaphosa addresses the Nation on COVID-19 response:

 

COPE urges newly appointed CEO to restore public confidence in Prasa
28 February 2021, 7:51 PM

The Congress of the People (COPE) is calling on new Passenger Rail Agency CEO Zolani Matthews to restore the public’s confidence in Prasa and in train services.  

COPE wants Matthews to immediately introduce a 24-hour security service and appoint rail police services to ensure safety and protect the rail infrastructure.   

The CEO post had been vacant since 2015.  

COPE Spokesperson Dennis Bloem says the country is tired of empty promises. 

The newlyappointed CEO of Prasa, Zolani Matthews, has a responsibility of restoring the confidence of the public in Prasa. We are expecting that the first thing that Matthews must do is to introduce a 24-hour security service in Prasa. It is disgusting to see how everything of Prasa is vandalised; buildings and trains are being burnt and destroyed on a daily basis. Passengers are not feeling safe on trains. It is our view that Matthews must immediately restore the rail police services.” 

Matthews has outlined his priorities to help turn around the state-owned entity. Mathews takes the helm of the SOE which has been battling for years to effectively deliver on its mandate.  

Speaking after being announced in the new position on Saturday, Matthews said he was determined to build a stable transportation firm.

We know that delivering a reliable and affordable rail and other forms of public transport is central to our economic performance and project of transformation. I am determined, together with our team, to work to deliver high-quality service and build a stable, fiscally prudent, modern company that fulfils its mandate and is at the center of our future transportation objectives. 

Transport Minister Fikile Mbalula said Prasa has turned over a new leaf following Matthew’s appointment.  

He added that Matthews’ professional record of over 30 years shows his focus on transparency and corporate governance.  

The Minister explained that his department is working towards ensuring SOEs have the right leadership.
 
“My core mandate is to get the passenger rail commuter in the big city centres and everywhere else to operate. Where we overlap, Prasa and Transnet must find each other. Now, I have a GCEO at Prasa, a board – they can talk and make sense. Pravin and I, the Minister of Public Enterprise, we agree. The question is the implementers. The task to get people in the right positions is important and it must be done.

Minister Mbalula announcing new Prasa CEO:

President Cyril Ramaphosa to address the nation at 20h00
28 February 2021, 4:15 PM

President Cyril Ramaphosa is expected to address the nation tonight at 20h00.  The address will be broadcast live on the SABC television News channel and digital platforms 

Ramaphosa’s address comes as the country continues the rollout of the Johnson and Johnson vaccine against COVID 19.  

South Africa is also seeking to stimulate the economy that has been ravaged by the lockdowns.  

The official unemployment rate stands at 32.5%. 

President Ramaphosa addresses the Nation on COVID-19 response:

Acting Minister in the Presidency, Khumbudzo Ntshavheni, earlier this week, said the Cabinet remains concerned over the high rate of unemployment in the country.

According to data from Stats SA’s 4th Quarter Labour Force Survey, over 700 000 job losses were recorded between Quarters 3 and 4 of 2020.

Briefing the media, Ntshavheni said young people constituted the largest pool of the unemployed.

“It is disturbing that young people constitute the largest pool of the unemployed and African and coloured South Africans, as well as women, remain the most vulnerable groups in the economy of the country and this strengthens governments resolve to fast track measures to enable and support the meaningful participation of youth, women and black people in the economy of the country. This is in line with the recommitment of economic reform and transformation made by the President in the 2021 SONA.”

The total number of COVID-19 infections in South Africa stands at 1 512 225, following 1 447 new cases reported by the Department of Health on Saturday.

In the last reporting period, there have been a further 157 COVID-19-related deaths in the country, bringing the national death toll to 49 941 deaths.

Recoveries now stand at 1 429 047 representing a recovery rate of 94%.

The number of vaccines that have been administered to healthcare workers now stands at 67 303.

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The country continues to be on adjusted Lockdown Level 3. 

 

 

 

 

China improves people’s livelihood with intensified efforts
28 February 2021, 2:56 PM

The livelihoods of Chinese people has been secured by the Chinese government during the past year despite the impact the COVID-19 epidemic has caused.

The goals set in last year’s Government Work Report have fulfilled and the indicators of people’s wellbeing have improved steadily.

As promised, China achieved the goals of winning the battle against poverty and completing the building of a moderately prosperous society in all respects in 2020.

By November 23, 2020, China had removed all its 832 impoverished counties nationwide from the poverty list, a globally significant milestone in poverty reduction for the world’s most populous country.

“In less than ten years, the government has lifted our over 90 million poverty-stricken population from many counties — hundreds, or even thousands of counties, out of poverty. Not a single person was left behind. I feel it is such a grant achievement,” said Xie Xingchang, a villager from once-impoverished Yongning County, northwest China’s Ningxia Region.

By the end of 2020, a total of 19.36 million registered people had been included in the subsistence allowance, support and relief system.

After the outbreak of COVID-19 last year, China’s health authorities adjusted medical insurance policies to enable COVID-19 patients to get treatment with delayed settlement of accounts.

Last November, the country completed its initial round of government centralised procurement programme for high-value medical commodities.

The 10 varieties of coronary stents that were successful following bidding saw their average price down to around 700 yuan (about 108 US dollars) from about 13 000 yuan (about 2,006 US dollars).

“To purchase high-value consumable materials and medicines through centralized procurement, especially for high-value medical products like coronary stent, in my opinion, is a major initiative of our nation to solve the difficulties for our people in getting medical service and reducing medical treatment costs,” said Li Lang, deputy director of the First Affiliated Hospital of Guangxi Medical University.

In addition, China had been running at full tilt to foster a social environment in which senior citizens are respected, cared for and live happily in the span of the 13th Five-Year Plan (2016-2020), given the country’s fast-growing aging population.

The basic pension for retirees and the minimum basic old-age pension for rural and non-working urban residents had increased for the 16th time last year, and the country had pledged to ensure the payments of pension funds on time and in full.

More support has been provided for elderly people with special needs, with elderly care service facilities being further developed.

By the end of 2020, elderly care service institutions and facilities in China had offered over 8.23 million beds for senior citizens, which was a year-on-year growth of 7.3 percent.

Elderly care personnel have increased and better trained to provide customized services to senior residents.

“I’m 85 years old now. The caretakers come to visit me twice a week to clean my house, comb my hair, cook for me and talk with me. They have taken care of me just like my daughter,” said Busala Avit, a senior resident from the Kashgar City, northwest China’s Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region.

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