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Coronavirus expected to impact SA until end of 2021: Mkhize
30 June 2020, 3:11 PM

Health Minister Zweli Mkhize says the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic is expected to impact the country until the end of next year.

South Africa has recorded over 144 000 coronavirus cases, with the death tally now standing at 2 529.

More than 70 000 South Africans have recovered from the disease.

Mkhize says people will have to continue fighting the coronavirus with safety and preventative measures.

“We think we might be with this virus for the whole of this year and next year. We need to find a way of adjusting to living in a situation where the virus is among us.”

“A large number of South Africans can prevent themselves from getting infected and infecting others by taking the basic precautions. It is no longer in the hands of nurses and doctors. It is in the hands of each and every South African because the virus can be defeated by simple preventative means of distancing, masks, hand sanitizers and washing hands.”




Gauteng is expected to soon become the epicentre of the disease in the country. Gauteng Health MEC Dr Bandile Masuku has said health officials are putting further measures in place to assist those infected with the coronavirus. The province also received 700 beds as a donation on Monday as efforts continue to ensure that province’s healthcare system is fully resourced to deal with any possible influx of patients at hospitals.

The Eastern Cape Health MEC Sindiswa Gomba has also said preparations are in full swing to ensure that the province is ready for a spike. “If you go back to the condition of our hospitals in the province, you will find the majority of them were not designed to stand the test of COVID-19. We have now engaged efforts in view of the shortage of oxygen, to deal with piping in major hospitals, so we can deal with the issue with the demand of oxygen in the hospitals,” she’s told journalists.

Western Cape Premier Alan Winde has urged residents of the province who are unable to self-isolate or quarantine themselves at their homes to make use of the province’s quarantine and isolation facilities.

This as calls mount for South Africans to heed to COVID-19 lockdown regulations as the country enters its peak season. The calls also come amid concerns that the number of recoveries has dropped to under 50% nationally and is now at 48.9%.

Minister Mkhize has urged Gauteng, the Western Cape and the Eastern Cape to brace themselves for COVID-19 storm.

In the video below, Minister Mkhize updates the nation on COVID-19:

COVID-19 fears grow for indigenous people in Brazil’s Amazon
30 June 2020, 12:15 PM

Dozens of indigenous people in the Brazilian Amazon’s Javari Valley – an area the size of Switzerland and Denmark combined – have contracted COVID-19, with experts and officials warning the disease poses a huge threat to their lives and culture.

The valley in the west of Brazil’s Amazonas state is part of a region bordering Peru and Colombia that is home to the world’s largest number of isolated indigenous people and others who had contact with outside society for the first time only recently.

Indigenous land in the valley has an estimated population of 6 000 already contacted people living in remote areas, with at least 16 other isolated groups that remain uncontacted.

According to the latest information, about 110 indigenous people have already been infected with the novel coronavirus in the Javari Valley.

Most of them are from the contacted Kanamari tribe, which has about 1 400 members. If the coronavirus continues to travel upriver and infects isolated indigenous communities, the result could be their extermination, warned a local lawyer.

Should COVID-19 reach areas where people have little immunity to modern diseases, then you can expect the worst”, said Elisio Marubo, an attorney for the Union of Indigenous Peoples of the Javari Valley (UNIVAJA).

Indigenous peoples in isolation are at great risk from infectious diseases because they do not have the immunological defences the general population has developed over the years, the country’s indigenous and health authorities have said.

Respiratory diseases are already one of the leading causes of death among Brazil’s native peoples, according to the Ministry of Health.

COVID-19, a viral infection for which there is so far only limited treatment and no vaccine, attacks the lungs and other parts of the body.

“If it reaches isolated communities, a disease like this will wipe out everyone,” warned Marubo.

Brazil has now registered more than 57 000 deaths from COVID-19, giving it the second highest death toll in the world.

No permanent health minister after losing two since April

More than 11 000 of those deaths have occurred in the Amazon, despite the region having only 8% of the country’s population, according to official data.

Right-wing President Jair Bolsonaro has been widely criticised for his handling of the coronavirus crisis.

The country still has no permanent health minister after losing two since April, following clashes with the president.

Bolsonaro has shunned social distancing and promoted two anti-malarial drugs as remedies, chloroquine and hydroxychloroquine, despite little evidence they work.

Research released this month by the Coordination of Indigenous Organizations of the Brazilian Amazon (COIAB) and the Amazon Environmental Research Institute (IPAM) showed the coronavirus mortality rate among indigenous people is 150% higher than the Brazilian average.

The rate of infection per 100 000 inhabitants among indigenous people is 84% higher than the average for Brazil, the study showed.


Santaco taxis to continue loading at full capacity
30 June 2020, 10:14 AM

Taxis belonging to the South African National Taxi Council (Santaco) say they will continue loading at full capacity on Tuesday morning.

This after a meeting was held with the Santaco leadership and Transport Minister Fikile Mbalula on Monday.

Santaco and the National Taxi Alliance announced at the weekend that they will begin operating at 100% capacity from this week, as they say they have received little co-operation from government.

Meanwhile, long queues are beginning to form at taxi ranks in Johannesburg as many commute to work in early Tuesday morning traffic.

Taxis belonging to Santaco say they will continue loading their vehicles to the maximum capacity. Taxi drivers belonging to United Taxi Associations Front say they will comply with government regulations and load at 70% capacity.

Some drivers say they do not want their vehicles impounded on the road for flouting lockdown regulations.

All passengers entering taxis continue to wear face masks while this seems absent with many drivers.

Full capacity

On Monday, taxi operators in Johannesburg continued to load their vehicles to full capacity in defiance of the COVID-19 national lockdown regulations.

In terms of the lockdown regulations, taxis are mandated to load 70% passenger capacity. Taxi organisations said with the reduced load capacity, they are unable to make ends meet including repaying the installments on their vehicles.

SABC News on Monday afternoon visited the Bree Street Taxi Rank in downtown Johannesburg and commuters were seen sitting close to each other, making it impossible for them to observe social distancing. Passengers were wearing masks as per COVID-19 regulations.

Commuters told SABC News that while they sympathise with the plight of taxi operators, they are also concerned about their own health and safety, especially with Gauteng’s infection rate increasing.

In the video below, Santaco briefs the media:

However, Transport Minister, Fikile Mbalula says grievances by the taxi industry should not result in lawless behaviour by members of the industry.

Mbalula says his department is working on assisting the industry.

“Can we achieve these things by a state of lawlessness? No. You are setting yourselves on a collision course with law enforcement, which is the state, and in that instance, the law will have to be maintained. You are daring the law and the authority of the state. There is no need to do that and I don’t know who said we are fighting the taxi industry. Do I want law enforcement to clamp down on the taxi industry? No. Government had got to come to the party. We in the department have taken the proposal to the NCCC (National Coronavirus Command Council).”

In the video below, Transport Minister, Fikile Mbalula addresses a press briefing:

Western Cape residents urged to use water wisely
30 June 2020, 9:31 AM

The average water levels for dams supplying Cape Town stand at 62%.

Western Cape Local Government Minister, Anton Bredell, says this is an increase of 10% compared to the same time last year.

He says dams across the province are currently 44% full compared to 39% last year.

Bredell says Voelvlei Dam currently is 57% full and the Berg River Dam stands at 81%.

The province’s largest dam, Theewaterskloof, is at 60% but another large reservoir, the Clanwilliam Dam, stands at 19%.

Bredell has appealed to consumers to continue to use water sparingly.

The video below shows the devastating effects of drought in the Western Cape

Cirque du Soleil files for bankruptcy protection
30 June 2020, 7:20 AM

Canada’s Cirque du Soleil Entertainment Group filed for bankruptcy protection on Monday as the COVID-19 pandemic forced the famed circus operator to cancel shows and lay off its artistes.

The Montreal-based entertainment company, which runs six shows in Las Vegas, has struggled to keep its business running amid coronavirus restrictions that started in March, forcing it to lay off about 95% of its workforce and temporarily suspend its shows.

“With zero revenue since the forced closure of all of our shows due to COVID-19, the management had to act decisively to protect the company’s future,” Chief Executive Officer Daniel Lamarre said.

The company has signed an agreement with its existing investors private equity fund TPG Capital, China’s Fosun International Ltd, and Canadian pension fund Caisse dedepot et placement du Qubec under which the group will take over Cirque’s liabilities and invest $300 million to support a restart.

As part of the investment, government body Investissement Qubec will provide $200 million in debt financing.

But creditors are unlikely to agree to the deal, which could result in existing debt holders getting about 45% equity in the restructured company, a source familiar with the discussions told Reuters.

TPG, Fosun and the Canadian pension fund, which have held a majority stake in the entertainment company since 2015, will also be responsible for a $15 million employee fund to provide financial assistance to laid-off employees.

Cirque said it will seek protection under the Companies Creditors Arrangement Act (CCAA), and its application will be heard on Tuesday by the Superior Court of Quebec. It will also seek its immediate provisional recognition in the United States under Chapter 15.

The company also said the artists and show staff of resident shows in Las Vegas and Orlando, which are expected to resume before the rest of its shows, would not be impacted by the layoffs.



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