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Panyaza Lesufi tests positive for COVID-19
25 December 2021, 8:34 AM

Gauteng Education MEC Panyaza Lesufi is in isolation and receiving treatment, after testing positive for COVID-19.

Lesufi started feeling unwell on Thursday night and tested for the virus on Friday morning. Gauteng Department of Education spokesperson Steve Mabona is urging those who were in contact with the MEC in recent days to get tested, if they are feeling unwell.

“The Gauteng Education MEC Mr Panyaza Lesufi is in isolation and receiving treatment after having tested positive for COVID-19 on Friday, 24 December 2021. MEC Lesufi felt unwell last night and struggled to breathe, which prompted him to go test for COVID-19 this morning and his results came back positive. We wish to advise people who had been in contact with MEC Lesufi prior to him testing positive for COVID-19 to either monitor themselves for any flu-like symptoms or go get tested accordingly.”

A total of 64,079 tests were conducted in the last 24hrs, with 18,847 new COVID-19 cases in South Africa, which represents a 29.4% positivity rate.

A further 81 related deaths have been reported, bringing total fatalities to 90,743 to date.

Latest SA stats:

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Tourism sector in Botswana recovering after crippling travel bans
24 December 2021, 1:19 PM

The tourism sector in Botswana is on the mend. This, after the country was taken off the red list by the United Kingdom and some other countries.

The controversial ban was imposed following the discovery of the Omicron variant of COVID-19 in the region. Tour operators are now banking on the festive season to revive the sector.

Botswana’s main airport is a hive of activity as tourists flock back to the country to enjoy its splendour. Tourism is one of the sectors that was almost obliterated by the controversial travel ban by some Western nations, after the discovery of the Omicron variant, but prospects look promising again.

Hospitality and Tourism Association of Botswana’s Lily Rakorong says bookings are increasing.

“After we have been taken off from the red list yes we are starting to see bookings coming in and we are seeing confirmation after the postponements.”

Tourism is a critical sector in Botswana’s economy and it contributes immensely to the country’s GDP. Tour operators have slammed the recent travel ban, saying it’s destabilised the industry.

Sharon Unwin from the Great Plains Conservation in Botswana says, “Our cancellations have been minimal. We’ve seen new bookings coming in and for later next year our COVID-19 protocols are in place.”

Botswana is counting on the festive season to ensure that this all-important sector is protected and continues to create much-needed jobs.

Mabuyane delivers eulogy at Lilian Diedericks’ funeral on Friday
24 December 2021, 12:01 PM

The Eastern Cape premier Oscar Mabuyane is set to deliver a eulogy at the funeral of African National Congress struggle stalwart and trade unionist, Lilian Diedericks, on Friday.

Diedericks died at the comfort of her home in Gqeberha at the age of 96.

In 1954, she was among the Port Elizabeth delegates who attended the national Federation of South African women’s conference, which she was a part of its founding members.

She was also one of the women who marched to the Union Buildings in Pretoria to demand an end to the pass law.

Mam Lilly as affectionately known has been described as a life-long human rights activist will be honoured in a private funeral at the Methodist church in Gqeberha.

The ANC in the Eastern Cape says her death has left a void because of her courageous spirit and historic contribution to the province.

Many say she will be remembered for her compassion, her love for humanity and that she has left a legacy that she can be proud of.

 

Reaction to passing of ANC struggle icon, Mama Lillian Diedericks: Gift Ngqondi

SA removes all COVID-19 quarantine, stops contact tracing
24 December 2021, 10:46 AM

The Department of Health has stopped all COVID-19 quarantine with immediate effect. This applies to both vaccinated and unvaccinated contacts.

Contact tracing will also be stopped with immediate effect except where there are cluster outbreaks.

The statement further reads that asymptomatic individuals are not required to isolate but to do self-observation for 5 to 7 days. There is also no need for a COVID-19 test to be done prior to returning to work after 8 days of isolation.

All those infected with the virus should return to work after 8 or 10 days of isolation with no further testing required after the isolation period.

The move was “based on advice from our scientists that it is not really having an impact anymore”, deputy health minister Sibongiseni Dhlomo told local broadcaster SABC, adding it did not replace existing guidance on things like social distancing and mask-wearing.

The department’s statement said factors that influenced the move included: the emergence of highly infectious variants like Omicron; estimates that at least 60% of the population have some protection from vaccination or infection; and new information including on the high level of asymptomatic cases and small number of actual cases diagnosed.

Dhlomo said vaccination rates among the country’s high risk populations were 66% in those over 60 years old and 63% in 50-59-year-olds.

Harry Moultrie, from the country’s National Institute for Communicable Diseases, backed the changes.

“South Africa cancels contact tracing and quarantining and pivots to mitigation. Good decision,” he said in a tweet.

In a Christmas Eve address, deputy president David Mabuza said the country had come a long way since the start of the pandemic.

“We have edged closer to reclaiming our normal lives and freedoms,” he said, encouraging more people to get vaccinated.

South Africa remains in the lowest level of a five-tier lockdown system. While Omicron has driven a sharp rise in infections, these have not been accompanied by the increases in hospitalisations and deaths seen during previous waves.-Additional reporting by Reuters

Political parties wish South Africans a safe, festive Christmas
24 December 2021, 10:31 AM

Whilst political parties often pull in different directions during the course of the year, the festive period and calls for a safe season have been echoed by all.

Political parties have reaffirmed their commitment to building a South Africa for all in light of the high unemployment rate in the country and the COVID-19 pandemic that has worsened the gap between rich and poor

South Africa has experienced a challenging year, an economy on its knees and crippling unemployment and as 2021 draws to a close, parties have reaffirmed their commitment to building a South Africa for all.

African National Congress head of the Presidency, Sibongile Besani says, “It is during this time of the year that we deepen our family bonds, it is time to take a break from a hectic year. Many of our people continue to suffer the misfortunes of unemployment and other socio-economic challenges. The pandemic has not made it easier and hence another tough year. However, we remain hopeful that, as the ANC, our trajectory of economic reconstruction and recovery holds better prospects of ensuring that our country gets out of these challenges. South Africans are receiving it and therefore we will not submit to these misfortunes without a fight. Let us stay safe during this festive season and prepare for the next year.”

The COVID-19 pandemic has deepened the gap between rich and poor, the disparity between the haves and the have nots has never been more glaring.

An ill that will be more fiercely felt during the festive season for many and with the coronavirus pandemic having ripped through families, killing over 90 000 South Africans.

Political parties called for a generosity not confined to homes to share with the less fortunate and have wished healing to all those affected.

Democratic Alliance party leader, John Steenhuisen says, “As we enjoy the celebrations and each other’s company, let us also remember that there are many South Africans for whom even Christmas time offers little respite from the hardship of poverty. Millions of our fellow citizens face a daunting struggle every day and many of them will go to bed hungry tonight, they are our community too and they need us to act like a community. So while this is a day for celebration, family and friendship, I hope it’s also a day in which we all extend our thoughts and our actions to those who are going through a tough time. Let’s also use this day to renew our commitment to making this beautiful country of ours more inclusive, more peaceful and more prosperous for all.”

Economic Freedom Fighters spokesperson Vuyani Pambo says South Africans should reflect on those they’ve lost this year and share what they have with the less fortunate.

“Our thoughts are with all those who will be spending this Christmas without their loved ones who were lost during this difficult and unforgiving pandemic. We wish you strength as you soldier on to face what is familiar as a season of family, with your table and home short of those loved ones. We call upon all African people to share what thy have, no matter how little it may be with those who are less fortunate. The inhumanity of capitalism and its society has rendered many without the comfort of warm homes, loving families and a plate of food and requires of us to practice the spirit of Africaness. Of this season. We have as a nation survived a difficult year with rising unemployment, a betrayal of the land question and a deadly coronavirus. It is now time to take stock and reflect on this difficult year while preparing for the year to come and its inevitable challenges.”

The Inkatha Freedom Party’s president Velenkosini Hlabisa called on people to stay safe and to protect themselves by taking the vaccine.

“The year 2021 was a difficult year and full of uncertainties. Many of us, if not all of us, lost family members, friends, relatives and as a country we lost people of great talents. The IFP wishes that the year 2021 can close and heal all the wounds of this year as we cross over to the new year, 2022. May all the people of South Africa during the festive season take care of each other, share love, share gifts, share good memories as families. May we look forward to 2022 with great hope for a new year that will open opportunities and make our people achieve and realise their dreams. People of South Africa, the IFP requests to ensure that we protect ourselves by taking the vaccine against the killer disease, COVID-19 so that when we cross over to the new year, we ready ourselves to put our hands on deck and prepare to rebuild our country, the economy and shape the future of South Africa.”

The South African Communist Party General Secretary Blade Nzimande has made a call for safety and to continue the fight against gender-based violence during the festive season.

“The SACP calls on all our people to fight for the right to work, fight crime and gender-based violence and violence generally. Overcome the covid19 pandemic and act against climate change. Working together we can build a prosperous society. On behalf of the SACP, I wish the poor and working people of our country and all other peace-loving South Africans all the best during this year-end season.”

As the country remains on level one of the lockdown, political parties have called for South Africans to act responsibly.

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