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SA records 1 218 new COVID-19 cases, 10 more deaths
23 May 2020, 10:02 PM

South Africa has recorded 1 218 new coronavirus (COVID-19) cases, bringing the country’s total cases to 21 343. Ten more people have died from the virus, bringing the total number of deaths to 407.

The Western Cape still has the most positive cases and deaths in the country. The province accounts for 65% of the country’s total COVID-19 cases.

The Western Cape is followed by Gauteng with 2 633 cases, accounting for 12% of the country’s total cases. The Eastern Cape, which has been marred by concerns over readiness to deal with the virus, also accounts for 12% of the country’s total cases with 2 569 people having tested positive for the virus in the province.

The Northern Cape still has the least cases of COVID-19, having recorded 40 cases and one death.

In the video below, Dr Zweli Mkhize visits the Eastern Cape as concerns mount on the province’s readiness to deal with COVID-19:

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A total of 564 370 tests have been conducted, with 21 338 done in the last 24 hour cycle. The public sector accounts for 51% of total tests with 287 833 tests, while the private sector accounts for 49% of tests. The sector has conducted 276 537 tests.

A total of 10 104 people have recovered from the virus.

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Acting collectively to beat COVID-19

The Minister of Health, Dr Zweli Mkhize, said on Thursday that the only way South Africans can overcome the spread of COVID-19 is if they act collectively as citizens.

Speaking at a virtual meeting with experts and researchers in sharing information about COVID-19, Mkhize said the fight against COVID-19 is a people’s war.

“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,” the Minister said.

The Minister also said government appreciates the continued guidance by the World Health Organisation (WHO) on the easing of the lockdown.

The WHO has released the following criteria for lifting a coronavirus lockdown:

  • Adequate control of the transmission of the virus
  • Tracing
  • Testing and treatment systems
  • Minimising the risk of resurgence
  • Preventative measures in public spaces.

Below is Minister Mkhize’s statement on the latest COVID-19 statistics:

Mining companies flouting COVID-19 regulations will face consequences: Mathabatha
23 May 2020, 9:23 PM

Limpopo Premier Stanley Mathabatha says mining companies flouting COVID-19 regulations will face consequences. He was speaking during a site inspection at Mogalakwena Platinum Mine in Mokopane on Friday.

Almost half of coronavirus infections in the province have been reported at mines.

There have been no cases at the Mogalakwena Mining complex since its reopening, but Anglo-American Platinum has reported one case at its Amandelbult Chrome Mine in Thabazimbi.

In the video below, the Limpopo Health MEC briefs the media after mine workers tested positive for COVID-19:

Anglo-American Platinum operations have been increased to 80% of production. Mine CEO Natascha Viljoen says this was allowed by government.

“I think as far as the scale of activity our mine is concerned, it is important to note that we have been allowed by government and the regulation to ramp open pit operations at 100% and our underground operations to 50%. Our approach though is one of risk, so that to that extent Mogalakwena who has been allowed to go 100%. We are still running at below 80%.”

Fifty eight percent of coronavirus cases in Limpopo are at mines. Mathabatha says the inspection was conducted to check the level of compliance to regulations at times.

“We are visiting a number of mines just to check on the level of compliance and see what it is that we can assist them with. In terms of checking up their compliance and in case they are not complying, there will be repercussions also. But our observation since we came here is that most, 90% if not 93% of the things we wanted to see we are happy with.”

Earlier this week, the Premier announced that the province was ready to move to Level 3 of the lockdown.

Farmers’ association lends a helping hand to struggling Nkomazi families
23 May 2020, 9:00 PM

As poverty levels rise in parts of the country due to the national lockdown, the South African Farmers Development Association (SAFDA) has stepped in to assist poverty-stricken families.

The association has donated food parcels to Masibekela, near the border between South Africa and Eswatini.

Some of the beneficiaries have welcomed the gesture.

“I’m so happy for the food parcel I received. We will able to cook and eat. I don’t know when you are going bring again because the situation is very bad. We are unable to go out to try and get something. Normally we are able go to the farms to buy vegetables and sell around the communities, so now we can’t and we have nothing to eat.”

SAFDA donated the food parcels to the communities of Masibekela in partnership with the provincial Finance Department.

“Indeed it is sad back for our farmers who have recently benefited from the fertile project that we supplied this year (2020). The Department of Rural Development and Land Reform supplied us with fertiliser and the farmers were expecting a bumper crop. Now they being affected by the theft and we have applied to the department to get some more assistant fertiliser again this season, but what we are doing today we are supplying what we call food parcels in partnership with the department Economic Development, Tourism and Finance led by MEC Pat Ngomane,” said SAFDA chairperson, Siyabonga Madlala.

Mpumalanga Economic Development MEC, Pat Ngomane, says the food relief programme is aimed at assisting the families during the national lockdown. He says the majority of residents have no source of income because their workplaces have been closed.

“Our people, specifically those who were feeding themselves informal traders, they were depending on what they were doing for them to feed themselves so if there’s this lockdown, they don’t get anything. So we invited all people who are prepared to assist government to assist us to get some food to get whatever relief which they can afford.”

SAFDA’s food donation programme is expected to be rolled out to other provinces.

The association has on the other hand condemned the theft of sugarcane from farms in the Nkomazi region. Residents allegedly steal the cane to manufacture homemade beer.

Small-scale farmers have been raising concerns about the increase of sugarcane theft since the beginning of the national lockdown.

In the video below, SAFDA donates food parcels to Nkomazi families and condemns the theft of sugarcanes:

Labour Department orders the closure of Eastern Cape’s Frere Hospital
23 May 2020, 8:00 PM

The national Labour Department has ordered the Eastern Cape Health Department to close down Frere Hospital, in East London. The health facility failed to meet the health and safety standards during the coronavirus (COVID-19) lockdown.

Frere is one of more than 20 hospitals in the province that have been earmarked for COVID-19 patients.

National Chief Inspector for Occupational Health and Safety at Labour, Tibor Szana, says the hospital is inadequately prepared to deal with the disease.

“We found that employees were not properly trained in relation to COVID-19. Had the employer complied and used the week; they would have been opened and operating. We don’t close places unnecessarily in this case. We met with the management and the management decided that they are going to fight with the Department of Labour on the matter, using that week they could have complied but they decided not to.”

Eastern Cape Health Superintendent General, Dr Thobile Mbengashe, however doesn’t believe shutting down the hospital is the solution to the problem at hand.

“Given the services that are provided and the patients that are at Frere and that it’s not feasible to move those patients out. We think it’s a matter that didn’t have to get to these levels and if there are deficiencies the department is quite open to make but we have to make sure that we are protecting our patients. That’s why we have taken the route of looking for an interdict against the prohibition.”

In the video below, Eastern Cape Health MEC Sindiswa Gomba briefs media on the province’s readiness to deal with COVID-19:

Eastern Cape’s COVID-19 struggles

The province has seen a number of sporadic incidents of protest action over the provision of Personal Protection Equipment (PPE) healthcare workers at a number of hospitals and clinics across the province. Nurses allege there is a shortage of PPE and that the health department has endangered their lives, for failing to isolate them, after they had contact with colleagues who tested positive for COVID-19.

However, Mbengashe insisted that they are managing the situation.

“Not everyone will be accorded all the PPEs. We also cannot close an institution because someone in a certain section contracted the virus. We cannot put everyone on quarantine because someone in a certain section tested positive.”

Nurses’ union Denosa said it is planning to establish committees to monitor whether sufficient PPEs are supplied.

The provincial health department also said in mid-May that the rise in COVID-19 infections in the Eastern Cape is slowing down the turnaround time of test results. It now takes as long as five days for results, which used to take just 48 hours. The tracing of contacts is, therefore, becoming increasingly difficult.

Healthcare professionals are now well-trained about what they are dealing with, but how they deal with COVID-19 cases and the families of patients are seemingly not up to scratch. The delays in test results worsen the situation.

10 things to keep nurses safe during COVID-19

SABC News has outlined 10 recommendations for nurses to follow to keep safe during COVID-19 and while they are nursing COVID-19 infected patients.

The recommendations outlined are based on those of official sources, including the Centre for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the World Health Organisation (WHO).

  1. Perform hand hygiene
  2. Clean surfaces regularly with disinfectant
  3. Adequate ventilation in rooms
  4. Change gloves when torn or heavily contaminated
  5. Wear fitted N95 respirator (medical mask)
  6. Use a face shield or medical mask and goggles
  7. Wash hands before putting on personal protective equipment (PPE)
  8. Remove PPE correctly
  9. Wash hands immediately after removing all PPE
  10. Proper patient placement.
2021 Olympics Organisers facing ‘real problems’ due to COVID-19
23 May 2020, 7:26 PM

A senior International Olympic Committee member has admitted that organisers of 2021’s Tokyo Games face ‘real problems’ as the coronavirus (COVID-19) infections continue to climb. Australia’s Olympic chief and head of the IOC’s inspectorate for Tokyo, John Coates, says the games cannot be postponed again.

The Tokyo Olympics were supposed to get under way in July 2020, but was moved to 2021 due to COVID-19.

Coates says athletes from 206 different nations are expected to congregate in Tokyo for the games and that this issue has become very problematic in light of the current COVID-19 situation.

He added that organisers had to assume there would be no vaccine or none in sufficient quantity, in time for the games.

In March, the IOC and Japanese government took the unprecedented decision to delay the games due to the coronavirus outbreak.

Below is a discussion on this unprecedented decision:

Formula One

Meanwhile, Formula One’s ten teams have reportedly agreed cost-cutting measures, including a budget cap of R2.5 billion for 2021. This, however, does not include driver salaries.

The measures have yet to be approved officially by the governing FIA’s World Motor Sport Council, but it is apparently seen as a formality.

The Formula One season has yet to start, with the first 10 races postponed or cancelled due to the pandemic.

Tennis

Tennis’ second Grand Slam of the year 2020, the French Open, should have started in Paris this weekend. But instead, Roland Garros remains closed to the public as France continues to fight COVID-19.

Wimbledon in London has already been cancelled while there is doubt about the staging of the US Open in New York.

Roland Garros has been moved to September and October, and is scheduled to start a week after the conclusion of the US Open at Flushing Meadows.

Still on tennis, Japan’s Naomi Osaka has surpassed American, Serena Williams as the world’s highest-paid female athlete. Business magazine, Forbes says Osaka has raked in around R650 million in prize money and endorsements over 2019.

This is the most ever earned by a female athlete in a 12-month period. She earned around R25 million more than Williams, who had topped the list for the last four years.

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