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SA is facing a bigger COVID-19 outbreak: Mkhize
26 May 2020, 12:30 PM

Health Minister Zweli Mkhize says South Africa is facing a bigger COVID-19 outbreak challenge than when the country went into lockdown and had its first positive case in March.

Mkhize revealed that more than 950 people were currently in hospital and more than 120 remain in the Intensive Care Unit across the country.

He made these revelations during a briefing to the National Council of Provinces (NCOP) on the impact of COVID-19 in South Africa.

Mkhize told the NCOP that the worst is still to come.

He says, “It should be made clear to our people that the COVID-19 still remains a danger, in reality which is worse now than it was when we first had our first case. It is important for us to say that whatever we are doing – we must be aware that we are facing a much bigger COVID-19 outbreak challenge…”

“We have seen our numbers increasing with the lockdown to  23 000 and above that, the risk from the health system. We now have 955 people in hospital and 126 in the ICU and therefore it is always important for us to remember that the problems of  COVID-19 are actually increasing,” added Mkhize.

South Africa records 481 COVID-19 related deaths:

 

The total number of deaths related to COVID-19 has risen to 481 people, 49 of the latest deaths were in the Western Cape which is the epicentre of the pandemic in South Africa.

Last week, Mkhize said the only way South Africans can overcome the spread of COVID-19 is if the country acts collectively as citizens.

He added that the Health Ministry has done its utmost to try to curb the spread of COVID-19. He also described the fight against COVID-19 as a people’s war against the virus.

“We will defeat the pandemic on the basis of collective social behavioural change, that creates a whole new culture of distancing, of use of masks, cough etiquette and ensuring that everybody is cautious of their individual roles, because unless our citizens themselves take responsibility of infection control, then off course we will not be able to win.

 

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African academics discuss COVID-19
26 May 2020, 10:14 AM

African academics from different regions have met virtually to deliberate on COVID-19 and the continent’s future developments.

Marking Africa Day, which was celebrated on Monday, the webinar discussed the current challenges in fighting the pandemic and possible opportunities for the continent to emerge with better systems post COVID-19.

Research Specialist at the Africa Institute of South Africa, Dr Palesa Sekhejane, says the purpose of the webinar was to explore what countries are doing with regards to COVID-19.

Sekhejane says, “We were deliberating on what are the challenges and what are the opportunities as far as COVID-19 is concerned. I was talking on biomedical challenges or the trajectory the continent needs to take…”

“I touched a lot on where Africa stands as far as vaccine development is concerned, as far as innovation and technology strategy in Africa … and it is centred around human health and prosperity,” added Sekhejane.

Dr Palesa Sekhejane speaks on Africa Day webinar deliberating COVID-19:

The economic impact of COVID-19 on Africa

Africa Day is being celebrated under the cloud of COVID-19 with the impact being felt across Africa. People’s lives have been greatly affected and the economic impact has been catastrophic.

According to Worldometer, Africa’s population as of May 2020 was over 1.33 billion as per United Nations’ estimates.

Research done by the World Bank says one in three Africans (over 420 million) live below the Global Poverty Line.

Many African countries have implemented lockdowns amid the virus. This has meant restricted movement, with many businesses not operating and in most cases, only essential services being allowed to continue. Social gatherings have been banned under many of the lockdown regulations.

The impact of the virus has put economies of African nations under severe stress with many seeking help from organisations like the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank. Countries have also pledged money within their economies to lessen the blow the virus has had on businesses and people’s livelihoods.

In the video below, SABC News Foreign Editor Sophie Mokoena looks at the impact of COVID-19 on Africa’s growth prospects:

Highlights of economic initiatives to combat the effect of COVID-19 in Africa:

  • The World Bank approved a $1 billion loan for Kenya to help it close a gaping budget deficit and tackle the economic shocks from the coronavirus.
  • Nigeria’s economy could shrink as much as 8.9% in 2020 in a worst-case scenario without stimulus, Finance Minister Zainab Ahmed said.
  • Egypt’s central bank will provide up to 100 billion Egyptian pounds ($6.36 billion) in loan guarantees to banks to encourage lending to businesses during the coronavirus
  • Uganda will receive an emergency loan worth $491.5 million from the International Monetary Fund to help cushion its economy from the impact of the new coronavirus
  • The World Bank will grant $7 million to Zimbabwe to help it fight the new coronavirus outbreak that is expected to worsen an already struggling economy and food crisis
  • The African Union (AU) has pledged $1.3 million to accelerate development, production and equitable global access to new COVID-19 essential health technologies.
  • African Investors agree that fast-tracking the African Union’s 5% infrastructure agenda is critical in the fight against COVID-19.
  • Nigeria is wooing local companies to boost manufacturing and food production in the West African country, the central bank said, after the novel coronavirus disrupted imports and created large financing needs.

 

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A Joburg man to appear in court for allegedly murdering his son and niece
26 May 2020, 8:25 AM

A man who allegedly killed his son and niece is expected to appear in the Lenasia Magistrates’ Court on Tuesday.

The man is alleged to have shot and killed the 9 and 10 year old at a house in Lehae, south of Johannesburg on Saturday afternoon.

Gauteng police spokesperson Mavela Masondo says, “A firearm belonging to the suspect was found at the crime scene by the police and has been sent for ballistic tests to determine whether it was used during the commission of murder.”

The motive for the killing cannot be confirmed at this stage and the police investigation is continuing, added Masondo.

Mbuthu case

Meanwhile, the bail application of seven suspects accused of killing Hambanathi teenager, Andile Mbuthu, is expected to continue on Tuesday in the Verulam Magistrate’s Court, north of Durban.

Last week, the suspects appeared via video feed, but the court has requested that they now appear in person. Earlier this month, a body believed to be that of Mbuthu was found in a local river. Police are yet to confirm the DNA test results.

It is believed that Mbuthu was beaten in a local tavern, after a video showing him lying in a pool of blood, was doing the rounds on social media earlier this month.

The tavern owner is one of the main suspects.

In the video below, Hambanathi residents express anger over Bobo’s disappearance:

Last week, seven people were gunned down in Msahweni, south of Durban, on Wednesday night.

KwaZulu-Natal Police Commissioner Khombinkosi Jula said police believe that the house where the men were found was an abandoned dwelling that was being used for criminal and drug activities. He says 20 ‘woonga’ straws and 25 ecstasy tablets were also found at the scene.
 It is believed that the seven men were gunned down by unidentified gunmen.

KZN police set up a task team to investigate the killing of 7 men in KwaMakhutha:

Mogale city reaches agreement with workers
26 May 2020, 7:14 AM

Municipal workers in the Mogale City municipality on Gauteng’s Westrand are expected to return to their posts following a breakthrough in talks over the lockdown payment dispute.

Essential services workers in the municipality working in the supply and maintenance of water and electricity infrastructure and traffic officers embarked on a go-slow from last week, demanding to be incentivised for working during the national lockdown.

They also wanted the municipal management to provide them with personal protective equipment.

Workers downed tools, burnt tyres and bins in front of the entrance into the municipality offices in Kagiso west of Johannesburg, demanding to be paid extra for risking their lives and exposing themselves to the risk of contracting COVID-19 as they continue to work during the lockdown.

They were represented during the talks with the municipality management by municipal workers unions, the South African Municipal Workers’ Union (SAMWU) and Independent Municipal and Allied Trade Union (IMATU).

SAMWU’s Justice Nkomo says, “We are supposed to be briefing our members first, ideally we must brief them first and we will tell. However, we have found each other, they’ve committed to our demand, we must just take feedback so that we can get a mandate.”

Mogale City municipality spokesperson Lucky Sele says in terms of the agreement reached, workers are going to be given an incentive for working during the lockdown period.

REPORT: Municipal workers in Mogale City go back to work after striking over an incentive for working during the lockdown

Sele says, “The workers are going to be given an incentive for offering their services during COVID-19. Now, if an employee has worked overtime, a normal overtime of working weekends, they will still get paid under normal circumstances as part of their salary. The incentive will be added on top of the work that they have been providing..”

On the issue of personal protective equipment Nkomo says if they don’t receive adequate PPE’s they will stop working.

He says, “We can’t work in a municipality that is not compliant because we will be putting our lives in danger. Screening must happen regularly, masks must be given regularly, gloves must be given regularly, sanitizers must be given regularly. If those things don’t happen we are not prepared to go back to work.”

However, Sele says workers are being provided with protective gear on an ongoing basis.

The go-slow has led to services grounding to a halt in a number of areas leaving residents without electricity and water for days in some areas. Sele says they are doing everything to attend to the situation.

“In one area, the residents did not have electricity over the weekend – in another area, the residents did not have water.  We are hoping as soon as the employees are able to return to work, they’ll be able to restore services. But it has really affected the residents of Mogale City badly and we are really disappointed that things had to get to this point,” Sele added.

Police spokesperson Kay Makhubele says no damage to property was reported and no arrests were made.

In the video below, Labour Minister Thulas Nxesi gives guidelines to workers returning to work.

 

Labour Minister Thulas Nxesi earlier in May instructed employers to incur the cost of complying with COVID-19 as more businesses return to work from Monday.

He ordered all employers to provide their employees with personal protective equipment in light of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Nxesi said, “Workers must wear masks at work. Employers must require members of the public entering the workplace to wear masks. Employers must provide each employee free of charge with at least two cloth masks to wear whilst at work or commuting. They must be suitable for washing and drying. Ultimately, the employer remains responsible for maintenance and upkeep of employees.”

 

Learners from vandalised schools will be accommodated
26 May 2020, 5:56 AM

The National Department of Basic Education says they will accommodate learners from the more then 1 500 schools vandalised during the more than two month lockdown period.

Grades 7 and 12 learners return to class when schools reopen on June 1.

Basic Education national spokesperson, Elijah Mhlanga, says the department is busy assessing the damage at all vandalized schools.

Mhlanga says, “We could not assess all the schools because of the lockdown. Now that school principals are in schools they can check on the damage that has been caused and they would establish the amount of work that is required. We are working with Eskom, the Department of Public Works and all other departments to ensure that these schools are ready.”

He says at some schools the storage facilities, principal’s office or administration buildings were damaged. In those cases, the learners can still be taught in the classrooms. Where the entire school was damaged, alternative plans are being made.

Meanwhile, vandals burnt down the administration building at Soshanguve Secondary School in Tshwane during the lockdown.

Next week, Grade 12 learners at Soshanguve Secondary school, like others across the country, must be back in class. However, Japhta Baloyi of the school’s Governing Body says they can’t re-open because nothing is left of the building.

Baloyi says, “Soshanguve High, the way I have assessed is not ready to be opened now. The whole admin block has been burnt. There’s nothing here…”

A school in Ekangala has been burgled twice in 48 hours and all the Personal Protection Equipment that was meant for the teachers was stolen.

The Provincial Education Department’s Steve Mabona asked that anyone with information about the culprits should contact the police.

The Educators Union of South Africa (EUSA) says schools should only reopen in September as temperatures will be higher and therefore provide a better climate to stem the spread of the coronavirus.

The union has served the Basic Education Department with legal papers, saying it intends to interdict the opening of schools on June 1.

EUSA General Secretary, Siphiwe Mpungose, says if Motshekga persists with the reopening of schools, they will push for her to be charged with attempted genocide as two school principals in the Western Cape are alleged to have tested positive for the coronavirus.

Psychologists also say that the return to school for thousands of children next month will prove to be a challenging time for both learners and parents.

Psychologist Rakhi Beekrum says while these fears from parents are expected, it is important to begin preparing children now for the return to school under challenging circumstances.

Beekrum says, “It’s important for the parent to meet the child where they are, to listen to how they’re feeling, to validate the feeling, acknowledge what their concerns are. We need to reassure our children why we equipping them with protective measures for themselves. Those that are excited want the routine and want to be with friends; those who are anxious might have been bullied at school and have enjoyed this time away. Children will feed off your anxiety. If you are highly anxious, children are likely to feel the same way. We have to acknowledge that this is new normal that we are entering.”

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