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SA records 733 new COVID-19 infections, 56 related deaths
15 October 2021, 8:21 PM

South Africa has recorded 733 new COVID-19 cases, which brings the total number of laboratory-confirmed infections to 2 915 560. This increase represents a 2.3% positivity rate.

A further 56 COVID-19 related deaths have been reported, bringing total fatalities to 88 562 to date.

Latest COVID-19 stats:

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Provincial breakdown of cases according to the NICD,” Western Cape (22%), followed by KwaZulu-Natal accounting for 20%. Gauteng accounted for 15%; Eastern Cape and Free State each accounted for 11% respectively; North West accounted for 7%; Mpumalanga and Northern Cape each accounted for 5% respectively, and Limpopo accounted for 4% of today’s new cases. ”

The NICD also adds that there have been 67 hospital admissions in the past 24 hours.

British lawmaker murdered in knife attack at meeting in church
15 October 2021, 5:19 PM

A British lawmaker was stabbed to death on Friday in a church by a man who lunged at him at a meeting with voters from his electoral district, knifing him repeatedly.

David Amess, a 69-year-old lawmaker from Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s Conservative Party, was attacked at around midday at a meeting at the Belfairs Methodist Church in Leigh-on-Sea, east of London.

“He was treated by emergency services but, sadly, died at the scene,” police said. “A 25-year-old man was quickly arrested after officers arrived at the scene on suspicion of murder and a knife was recovered.”

Armed police swooped on the church and detectives said they were not looking for anyone else in connection with the incident. There was no detail about the motivation for the attack.

Emergency services had fought to save his life inside the church – where a sign says “All are welcome here” – but in vain.

Colleagues from across parliament expressed their shock and paid tribute to Amess, who held regular meetings with voters on the first and third Friday of the month, saying he was diligent in his duties to his local area.

Flags in Downing Street were lowered in tribute.

Amess, married with five children, was first elected to parliament to represent Basildon in 1983, and then stood for Southend West in 1997. He was knighted by Queen Elizabeth for his public service in 2015.

His website listed his main interests as “animal welfare and pro-life issues.”

He was popular with lawmakers and known for his active contributions to debates – often about issues relating to his Essex constituency or animal rights.

“He was stabbed several times,” John Lamb, a local councillor at the scene, told Reuters.

Attack on democracy

The stabbing at a meeting with constituents has echoes of a 2010 incident when Labour lawmaker Stephen Timms survived a stabbing in his constituency office, and the 2016 fatal shooting of Labour’s Jo Cox just days before the Brexit referendum.

“Attacking our elected representatives is an attack on democracy itself,” Cox’s husband Brendan said on Twitter.

“There is no excuse, no justification. It is as cowardly as it gets.”

“This brings everything back. The pain, the loss, but also how much love the public gave us following the loss of Jo. I hope we can do the same for David now.”

As grim news of the attack emerged, Prime Minister Johnson rushed back to London from a meeting in Bristol, western England. Colleagues said Amess was a gentle man and cast him as a true gentleman.

“This is the most devastating, horrific & tragic news,” former Prime Minister David Cameron said on Twitter.

“Words cannot adequately express the horror of what has happened today.”

Johnson’s wife, Carrie, said she was devastated.

“Absolutely devastating news about Sir David Amess. He was hugely kind and good,” she said on Twitter. “An enormous animal lover and a true gent. This is so completely unjust.”

‘It’s all gone’ – local grieves after deadly Taiwan fire kills 46
14 October 2021, 9:47 PM

Locals in Taiwan’s southern district of Kaohsiung grieved on Thursday after a residential building caught fire, killing 46 and wounding 41 others.

“I feel quite sad,” said a former resident of the buidling, Li Wen-Hsiang. “It’s all gone, this building has been here for more than 30 years.”

Workers were seen clearing debris from the fire late into Thursday night, Reuters video footage showed.

The fire broke out in the 40-year-old building in Kaohsiung’s Yancheng district in the early hours of Thursday morning and was extinguished around dawn.

Kaohsiung’s fire department confirmed in a statement that 46 people had died in the fire.

Residents that were left without a home for the night were relocated to relatives’ houses, an official told

Li Wen-Hsiang further said, “I feel quite sad, it used to be very affluent here, and then it somehow just turned into this. My family used to live here, downstairs used to be quite fancy, there was an ice rink and even karaoke. Really nice. Now it’s all gone, this building has been here for more than 30 years.”

“The neighbours are all very nice, I used to live here from when I was born until the age of nine. Then we moved away, but my relatives still live in the area and my uncle often comes around here,” he added.

ASEAN to discuss excluding Myanmar army leader from summit : Sources
14 October 2021, 9:40 PM

Southeast Asian foreign ministers will discuss excluding Myanmar junta chief Min Aung Hlaing from an upcoming summit at a meeting on Friday, sources told Reuters, as pressure builds on the ruling military to comply with an agreed peace roadmap.

The meeting comes as the junta ruled out allowing a regional envoy, Brunei’s second foreign affairs minister, Erywan Yusof, to meet deposed leader Aung San Suu Kyi, who is on trial on multiple charges since her elected government was overthrown in a February 1 coup.

The Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) agreed on a five-point consensus with Min Aung Hlaing in April, but several members of the bloc have criticised the junta’s failure to implement the plan, which includes dialogue among all parties, humanitarian access and an end to hostilities.

Friday’s previously unscheduled virtual meeting will be hosted by ASEAN chair Brunei, according to multiple sources based in ASEAN member countries, including diplomats and government officials.

Malaysia, Singapore and Indonesia had indicated that they were in favour of excluding Min Aung Hlaing from the October 26-28 virtual summit, but were pushing for a consensus among nine ASEAN states, three of the sources said. Myanmar is the 10th ASEAN member.

A spokesman for Thailand’s foreign ministry confirmed a meeting would be held on Friday.

Philippine Foreign Minister Teodoro Locsin on Thursday voiced support for excluding Min Aung Hlaing from future summits, adding that ASEAN could no longer afford to take a neutral stance on Myanmar.

“We can continue keeping them (Myanmar) at a distance but…if we relent in any way, our credibility as a real regional organisation disappears,” Locsin said in an interview with Australian think-tank Lowy Institute.

“What’s that? We’re a bunch of guys who always agree with each other on the worthless things, things that don’t count in the world.”

The US State Department said Secretary of State Antony Blinken discussed Myanmar, also known as Burma, with Erywan on Wednesday.

It said the two “expressed concern over the violence and deteriorating crisis in Burma and emphasized the urgency for the Burmese military regime to cease the violence, release all those unjustly detained, and restore multi-party democracy and Burma’s democratic transition.”

US donates 17 million J&J doses to African Union
14 October 2021, 9:27 PM

US President Joe Biden told visiting Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta on Thursday that the United States will make a one-time donation of more than 17 million doses of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine to the African Union, the White House said.

“We are hopeful this donation will help AU countries build vaccination programs and get shots into arms,” the White House said in a statement.

The meeting with Kenyatta at the White House marked Biden’s first as president with an African leader.

Kenya holds the rotating presidency of the UN Security Council this month. The United States and Kenya have long cooperated on economic and security initiatives including counter-terrorism.

The White House said the donation of the vaccine doses will help the African Union’s own regional procurement of J&J via the African Vaccine Acquisition Trust.

The African Union, which has 55 member states and a combined population of over 1.3 billion people, has accused vaccine manufacturers of not giving its members fair access. Of the 5.7 billion doses of coronavirus vaccines administered around the world by mid-September, only 2% had been in Africa.

The 17 million doses are on top of the 50 million the United States has already donated to the African Union. The 17 million doses of J&J are available for delivery immediately and will be delivered to the African Union in the coming weeks, the White House said.

African countries and the World Health Organisation have been urging drugmakers for months to set up vaccine plants on the continent to help it secure supplies of COVID-19 shots that have been hoovered up by wealthier nations.

As of last week, only about 4.5% of Africans had been fully vaccinated against COVID-19, according to the continent’s top public health official John Nkengasong.

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