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New York City reports zero COVID-19 deaths for first time since March
13 July 2020, 8:16 PM

New York City in the US has for the first time reported zero deaths related to COVID-19 since the main onset of the pandemic in the region in early March.

Preliminary data from the city’s health department showed that zero deaths were reported in the city on Saturday – just as cases were surging in other parts of the country.

The news of no deaths marked the end of a four-month stretch since the city – once the epicentre of the virus in the country – reported its first COVID-19 fatality on March 11 and marks a major improvement since 597 people died in the city on April 7th alone.

City officials have called New Yorkers the heroes of the story who have gone above and beyond to keep each other safe just as states around the country including Florida, Texas, Arizona and California struggle with new infections surging at record proportions. Fifty-eight thousand new cases were recorded nationwide in the last 24 hours.

The Governor of New York State Andrew Cuomo earlier warned that as case numbers rise in other parts of the country, that this may filter back to his state where numbers could again begin to rise.

In the video below, New York City schools to reopen in September:

Russia hopes to enter last phase of COVID-19 vaccine testing next month
13 July 2020, 7:38 PM

A Russian vaccine against COVID-19 could be ready for its final stage of testing as early as August, according to the head of the centre carrying out the trials. Russia’s Sechenov University says the first trials are over and the vaccine has been shown to be safe. But more tests are needed before it can be put to use.

It’s less than a month since Russia’s Sechenov University began the first phase of testing on 38 healthy paid volunteers. It said that some of them suffered headaches and fevers in the first 24 hours after being injected with the potential vaccine, but their symptoms soon resolved. Now, the scientists say that the vaccine has been shown to be safe, and the volunteers are being discharged from hospital. They will continue to be monitored as outpatients.

But this is just the first phase of testing, and one that other vaccines around the world had already achieved. The researchers still have to prove that their vaccine works as protection against COVID-19. They say that preliminary results are positive, but they haven’t released the data yet.

The head of the research centre told Russian media that the next stage of trials has already begun, and if it goes well, the vaccine could be submitted for approval by national health authorities as early as August. He said it could then be offered to people in the general population, which would be equivalent to the usual third phase of testing, as those who receive it would be kept under supervision.

But it’s too early to say if this vaccine is the silver bullet that many people have been waiting for. According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), there are 19 different vaccine trials around the world. Just two of them have reached the third and final stages of testing so far – one by China’s Sinopharm and another by AstraZeneca and Oxford University.

In the video below, Russia’s COVID-19 vaccine could be ready for testing in August:


Political parties describe Zindzi Mandela as a compatriot, fearless hero
13 July 2020, 6:00 PM

Political parties have joined the rest of the country in paying tribute to South Africa’s Ambassador to Denmark, Zindzi Mandela. The Mandela family released a statement this morning confirming her passing at a Johannesburg hospital. She was 59.

United Democratic Movement (UDM) leader, Bantu Holomisa, passed his condolences to the family.

“Children and the Mandela family, we are saddened by the sad news, like her mom, she was not afraid to speak her mind, indeed she joined the rest of the people of this country in fighting for freedom of all South Africans. May her soul rest in peace.”

Former Inkatha Freedom Party (IFP) President Prince Mangosuthu Buthelezi says the late Zindzi Mandela served the country diligently as an ambassador to Denmark.

“On behalf his King of the Zulu nation, my family and the IFP I send the sincere condolences to the Mandela family, particularly to her children. It is difficult to believe that a person so full of life and energy is no longer with us. As a friend of her late parents, I have known Zindziswa all her life. She endured tremendous heartache in her childhood being separated from her father yet she grew up to have love for her country when she could easily harboured hatred.”

The EFF says Zindzi, as she was affectionately known, is a hero who stood by her mother Winnie Madikizela-Mandela when the movement they both loved persecuted her.

EFF Spokesperson Delisile Ngwenya also expressed their gratitude for being allowed to name their headquarters after Zindzi’s mother, Winnie Madikizela-Mandela.

“The EFF draws eternal inspiration from her for never turning her back on Mama Winnie Mandela. Moreover, even after apartheid, Mama Zindzi was with Mama Winnie Mandela when the movement they both loved persecuted her. Her dedication to Mama Winnie Mandela’s truth makes her the quintessential hero behind Mama Winnie Mandela. We will cherish her in the economic emancipation generation as one of our own.”

While the Democratic Alliance has not commented on Zindzi’s death yet, one of the party’s Members of Parliament expressed sadness in a tweet.

Earlier, her own party – the ANC  described Mandela as an important figure in the fight for the country’s democracy.

The governing party says the Ambassador’s passing is a huge loss to her family, the party and other Mass Democratic Movement formations and her big community of friends.

The ANC describes Zindzi as a leader in her own right who expressed her views without fear or favour.

Shock, sadness

Nelson Mandela Foundation has expressed shock at the Ambassador’s untimely passing.

In a statement, the foundation highlighted that today also marks the anniversary of the death of Madiba’s eldest son Thembekile, who died in a car accident in 1969. The foundation said Zindzi will be remembered for a rich and extraordinary life, marked by many iconic moments.

The Desmond and Leah Tutu Legacy Foundation have also paid tribute to Zindzi Mandela. In a statement, the foundation honoured the role Zindzi played while her father former President Nelson Mandela was in prison.

President Cyril Ramaphosa has also expressed his deep sadness at the passing of Zindzi Mandela. Ramaphosa says the sadness is compounded as this happened days before the world marks Madiba’s birthday.

In the video below, little activity at the Mandela home in Soweto:

The political activist was the youngest daughter of struggle stalwarts Nelson Mandela and Winnie Madikizela-Mandela.

The law graduate is well known for her fearless spirit and her forthright opinions on land.

Zindzi was the one who read her father’s letter, rejecting a conditional release offer from P. W. Botha in 1985.

After her parent’s separation, later divorce, Zindzi was selected to go along with Mandela to his inauguration when he became the president of South Africa in 1994. She further became the stand-in, First Lady of the country, until her father remarried at the age of 80, in 1996.

After that, the mother of four embarked on various humanitarian activities as well as participated in local politics while trying to live up to the legacy of her parents.

In the video below, Zindzi reads her father’s iconic 1985 letter in Soweto:

48 Northern Cape schools closed due to COVID-19
13 July 2020, 4:24 PM

Forty eight schools in the Northern Cape have been closed thus far due to COVID-19 infections.

The provincial education department says these are not breakouts but individual cases.

It says the facilities are closed until they have been disinfected and it is safe for educators and learners to return.

The department’s spokesperson Geoffrey van Der Merwe says they are monitoring the situation very closely.

“We have made the necessary arrangements with the department of health to establish the contact traces for testing and have isolated staff and learners where necessary. The Pixley ka Seme, John Toalo Gaetsewe and ZF Mgcawu district offices were also closed with immediate effect due to positive COVID-19 cases reported,” Van der Merwe says.

In the video below, parents worried children run risk of contracting coronavirus:

KZN parents up in arms

Parents of learners at oDumo High School in Mandeni, on the KwaZulu-Natal north coast, are up in arms after schooling was stopped last week, allegedly by teachers. It is believed that teachers downed tools after raising concerns about safety on school premises.

The school is currently under construction. Member of the school governing body, Jabulani Khuzwayo, says learners have already lost far too much time due to the impact of the lockdown.

“The school has been closed. We don’t know why it has been closed. We have not been informed who closed it. According to our understanding, the school has been cleaned and it’s conducive for teaching and learning to take place. Teachers left our children unattended. No COVID-19 case has been reported in this school. We are left in the dark. Our children want to go to school, but we are have no idea what is going on. We are worried about the future of our children.”

Spokesperson at the provincial education department Muzi Mahlambi says teaching is expected to resume by the end of this week.

“We are aware of the problem that is at oDumo High School in Mandeni where there is construction and educators are feeling that the manner in which the constructor has lay the tools around is not safe for them. We have since sent the implementing agents to assist us with that regard. We are very hopeful that by Wednesday everything should have been cleared up so that the environment becomes conducive for educators and learners to be working at the school.”

Basic Education Minister Angie Motshekga has said the 2020 school year will have to be carried over to 2021 due to interruptions to the school calendar.

Legal action being considered against those disrupting schools

The Council of Education Ministers (CEM), led by the Minister, is also considering legal action against political parties and civic bodies found to be disrupting schooling. Many have been protesting, calling for schools to be shut down amid the coronavirus pandemic. However, the Department says these disruptions are in contravention of the South African Schools Act, which prohibits people from interrupting classes.

It says out of 24 000 schools, 775 were affected by COVID-19 since reopening to grade 7 and 12 pupils on 8 June.

Minister Motshekga has encouraged parents who are uncomfortable about sending their children to school to consider homeschooling.

Eastern Cape Judge Patrick Jaji succumbs to COVID-19
13 July 2020, 3:16 PM

An Eastern Cape judge is the latest high profile South African to succumb to COVID-19.

Judge Patrick Jaji passed away on Sunday in hospital.

” The effects of COVID-19 pandemic have now reached the doorsteps of the Judiciary in a very real and saddening way. Judge Jali was a dedicated bastion of the Constitution and rule of law. His untimely death robs us of the opportunity to experience his future contribution to the Judiciary,” Judge President of the Eastern Cape Division of the High Court Selby Mbenenge says in a statement issued on behalf of the Judiciary.

The Chief Justice’s Office has sent its condolences to his family and friends, saying his loss will be deeply felt by his colleagues and the staff in the Eastern Cape Division of the High Court.

Judge Jali was permanently appointed to the High Court in 2017. He had worked as an attorney from 1996-2010.

His death comes as South Africa’s infection rate continues to climb.

He also joins several high profile South Africans who have succumbed to the disease. These include, the North West MEC of Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs Gordon Kegakilwe, former KwaDukuza mayor and ANC spokesperson Ricardo Mthembu and Langeberg mayor Henry Jansen.

The Gauteng, North West and Western Cape Premiers, as well as the Mpumalanga Public Works, Roads and Transport MEC, are among South Africans who are currently recuperating from the disease.

The country currently has more than 200 000 infections and over 4 000 deaths.

Below is the provincial breakdown of the statistics:






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