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NICD
NICD catches sight of local SARS-CoV-2
23 May 2020, 5:50 PM

The National Institute for Communicable Diseases (NICD) says it has caught sight of the local SARS-CoV-2, the virus behind COVID-19.

“This was done by culturing the virus in a high bio-containment facility, biosafety level 3 (BSL3) laboratory which together with biosafety level 4 (BSL3) laboratory is the most advanced integrated high and maximum bio-containment infrastructure on the African continent,” the NCID said in a statement on Saturday.

Staff wore highly specialised Personel Protective Equipment (PPE) to protect themselves during the exercise.  The organisation says successful isolation of the virus was confirmed by observing changes in the cell lines used to grow the virus, called a cytopathic effect (CPE). Confirmation that this was indeed SARS-CoV-2 was done by specific diagnostic molecular assay.

The cultured virus was visualised under a high powered electron microscope.

The head of NICD’s Centre for Emerging Zoonotic and Parasitic Diseases Prof Janusz Paweska and his team are behind the study.

NICD says it will allow scientists to better understand the basic virology and pathogenicity of this novel coronavirus and enhance South Africa’s capacity to develop diagnostics and anti-viral compounds. “There is also the possibility of using laboratory-grown virus for the local development of inactivated or live-attenuated COVID-19 vaccines and contribute to effective disease prevention and control,” the statement says.

Below is the full statement on the discovery:

Below is a graph on the latest COVID-19 statistics in South Africa:

 

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Soccer
Bundesliga matches resume on Saturday
23 May 2020, 4:40 PM

Bundesliga matches, played behind closed doors in Germany, continue this weekend amid the coronavirus pandemic.

The two top teams on the log will be in action on Saturday as defending champions and log leaders Bayern Munich host Eintracht Frankfurt in Munich this evening, while Borussia-Dortmund take on Wolfsburg in the afternoon.

Reigning champions Bayern Munich, who have a four-point lead over Borussia Dortmund in the standings so far, are simply looking to continue their winning ways, when they take on Eintracht Frankfurt at the Allianz Arena in Munich this evening.

For coach Hansi Flick, the fact that there will be no spectators, doesn’t change their approach to the clash.

“Our preparation will be the same just like ahead of every other game with spectators. We obviously made an extensive analysis because Eintracht Frankfurt is a team which has very good forwards and defence, and good dynamics, and they often steal the ball in the midfield. It’s a team with a lot of heart. We will try to have a good performance at home. We definitely want to win this game. That’s our goal and that’s where we want ourselves to be measured,” says Flick.

Eintracht Frankfurt, will have a tough time  as they look to regain some momentum, following four straight defeats in their last four matches, even losing at home 3-1 to Moenchen-glad–bach last week.

“We know that this will be a very difficult game. But despite everything, we will go to Munich and try to do better than in the home game against Borussia Moenchengladbach. We are not happy. The game against Gladbach made it clear again that there is still quite a bit missing  and this had a lot to do with our build up which was not okay. It’s one thing that we are facing Bayern Munich as the underdog but the bill will be settled at the end of the season,”says Frankfurt.

Easing of Coronavirus restrictions in Germany

The Bundesliga became the first major sports league to restart, last week, after more than two months  following an easing of coronavirus restrictions in Germany, with games being played without fans for the obvious health and safety reasons.

Under the league’s health regulations, only 200 people are allowed, on and around the pitch, and in the stands, during the game. And a further 100 people, mainly security staff, are allowed outside the stadium.

Michael Maatz is a police official in the West Rhine, home to Wolfsburg who will host Dortmund this afternoon.

He is concerned that despite being played behind closed doors, there is still a risk in hosting these matches.

“We as the police union are strongly against the playing of these phantom games. From our point of view there is a large potential for trouble. We assume that not all fans will stay at home and that there will be places where there is a possibility that there will be violence and then my colleagues will have to intervene. There is a significant health risk in these corona times and these are situations that we don’t want.”

Fans remain divided on the issue

“It’s difficult! the mood will be a bit different, I feel like watching football again and that could be divisive, says one fan.”

“Entertainment is always good for society and people are happy about it and have something to do and then that might alleviate some of the frustration between people and people might be a bit calmer,” adds another fan.

Restart of Bundesliga signifies hope

Whether you agree with the resumption of these matches or not, for many people the restart of the Bundesliga signifies hope, that world sport can resume, somewhat, while the world still battles this coronavirus pandemic.

With still at least eight weeks still play, Bayern are chasing a record-extending eighth straight title – and lead the with 58 points while Borussia Dortmund their closest rivals are on 54 points.

Leon van Wyk
Leon van Wyk elected executive mayor of George
23 May 2020, 3:45 PM

The George Council, in the Southern Cape, has elected a new mayor in a virtual council meeting. The Democratic Alliance (DA) has welcomed Leon van Wyk’s election.

The move follows the suspension of former mayor, Melvin Naik, earlier this year due alleged involvement in corrupt activities.

DA George Constituency Head, Geordin Hill-Lewis, says Van Wyk’s election is the first step towards restoring the integrity of the George council.

“Leon brings with him the integrity, energy and humility needed for this job. He will take the lead on attracting investments, growing the local economy and keeping George as one of the best places to live in South Africa.  We wish him well and congratulate him and the entire team there and we’re very excited for the things he’ll do in George.”

DA cancels  Naik’s membership

In February, the DA Federal Legal Commission informed Naik that his membership was cancelled.

He was given 48 hours to resign as  George Mayor but he refused to do. The party’s action came after the DA caucus in George passed a motion of no confidence in Naik in January.

This after a forensic investigation found evidence of Naik’s involvement in fraud, corruption, maladministration and serious malpractice within the municipality.

Panyaza Lesufi
Gauteng Education to recruit substitute teachers
21 May 2020, 5:30 PM
The Gauteng Education Department is embarking on a massive recruitment drive to get substitute teachers. This as Grade 7 and 12 learners prepare to return to school on June 1.
The majority of teachers in the province are over the age of 55, and will be allowed to work from home. The trend in coronavirus cases seems to indicate that the elderly are more likely to die from COVID-19 because of underlying conditions they may have.
Gauteng Education MEC, Panyaza Lesufi, says none of the older teachers will be allowed on the school premises.

“Those teachers that are above 60, that they believe they’ve got comorbidities and they cannot come to work, they can work from home. We will support them, but we’ll put substitute teachers that will provide that kind of assistance that is needed. This is very important to us because we don’t want educators that might have sicknesses that may infect our learners to be within our school premises.”

Infographic | Back to School Plan:

 

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Confusion over reopening of schools

The Federation of Governing Bodies of South African Schools (FEDSAS) says it has been left with more questions than answers after the Minister of Basic Education announced this week that Grade 7 and 12 learners will return to school.

FEDSAS CEO Paul Colditz says they have been flooded with questions from schools, as well as concerned parents seeking clarity on whether all the necessary requirements have been met for a safe return to school.

Colditz says, “I’m afraid the announcement left us with more questions than answers. That’s quite apparent from all the questions we’ve been getting from schools all over the country. The fact is that the grassroots level, we know and have experienced it that the majority of provinces are not ready to open on the 1st, or to receive learners and teachers in an environment which is as far as humanly possible able to guarantee their safety, well-being and health.”

In the video below, a concerned mother and her Grade 12 son react to the re-opening of schools:

Coronavirus
W Cape accounts for 63.5% of COVID-19 cases
21 May 2020, 5:28 PM

The number of COVID-19 cases in the country now stands at 19 137. The Western Cape accounts for 63.5% of the total number of cases, followed by Gauteng and Eastern Cape, both at 12% of the registered cases each.

The below graph is a provincial break down of the numbers: 

 

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