As Covid-19 cases spike in South Africa, Africavarsities brings you the latest news coverings on the virus, school reopening, border closure, vaccine, etc. in South Africa. As a student in South Africa, it is important to get updated on covid-19 happenings.
Here are top news items on Corona virus this week in South Africa.
1. NCCC wants reopening of schools postponed
Public schools are supposed to open on 27 January but the National Coronavirus Command Council (NCCC) wants to push it to 15 February. The NCCC hopes that by then the second wave of Covid-19 infections would have started to decline.
A number of independent schools reopened on Wednesday, while the majority are expected to reopen next week.
Education sector groups met with the Department of Basic Education on Wednesday night when the decision by the NCCC was communicated to them.
“In principle, our position was that schools, based on the experiences from last year, are safer for children because they are under control and can be supervised better than being out in the streets. The indications are that things might have changed. We don’t have the medical expertise and are not quite sure about the readiness of all provinces to reopen and we don’t know how many teachers may be infected. We’ve had a high infection rate in the teacher cohort during the holidays,” said Paul Colditz, CEO of the Federation of Governing Bodies of South African Schools.
2. More than half of South Africans want schools to stay closed
With schools due to reopen on 27 January, as cases of Covid-19 continue to rise, a growing number of South Africans have expressed support for the continued closure of schools.
This was one of the key findings in a survey undertaken by the University of Johannesburg and the Human Sciences Research Council (HSRC), which was conducted between 30 December 2020 and 6 January 2021.
The online survey was completed by 10,618 participants. Findings have been weighted to match Statistics South Africa data on race, education, and age, and can be regarded as broadly representative of the population at large.
In July last year, in a similar context of rising infections, the government took the decision to postpone the re-opening of schools. It would be consistent for it to do so again, the researchers said.
“At that time, the president’s main argument was based on advice from the World Health Organisation (WHO) that infection among teachers and learners would spread to the community and vice versa, and that re-opening schools could lead to a further rise in cases.
“This assessment remains powerful, especially when there is evidence to suggest that the new 501Y.V2 variant of Covid-19 is more transmissible.”
3. South Africa’s busiest border closes
South Africa’s decision to shut its land borders was preceded by a week of pandemonium as hundreds of thousands of foreigners tried to return to work after the December holidays.
Beitbridge, the only legal road crossing between Zimbabwe and South Africa — and southern Africa’s busiest inland border post — was the worst affected.
People waited, not always patiently, for as long as four days in lines of traffic that stretched miles from the border gate with delays caused by the need to produce a certificate showing a negative test for Covid-19.
“It is on the trade route,” said Trudi Hartzenberg, executive director of the Tralac Trade Law Center in Stellenbosch, South Africa. “The transport and development corridors, going into the region and a single border closure has a knock-on, or a regional impact, which can be quite significant.”
4. South Africa sees spike in Covid-19 deaths as peak hits
South Africa has reported an increase in the number of Covid-19 deaths as the country faces the peak of its second infection wave.
On Wednesday (13 January) the country reported a daily increase of 806 new deaths. This follows an increase of 755 new deaths on Tuesday. Total deaths reported in the country now stands at 35,140.
Data from the South African Medical Research Council (SAMRC) shows that the weekly number of deaths from all causes continued to increase in the week of 30 December 2020 – 5 January 2021, with the country experiencing a record number of 20,063 deaths over this period.
5. Coffin demand rises sharply in South Africa
The novel coronavirus South Africa is spreading at a rapid pace and amid the surge in a number of deaths, coffin demand has increased sharply in the country.
A WION reporter visited ENZO Wood, one of the country’s largest coffin manufacturer in Gauteng and was told by an official that the company is under “pressure” to meet the rise in demand.
“Pressure has increased…It is a bit difficult now. We need to push work as much as we can to satisfy the market,” said Kasie Pillay, Sales Manager, ENZO Wood.
Pillay said that the manufactures themselves are facing challenges and therefore it is difficult to fulfil market needs.
“With the second wave demand has increased, but there are always challenges…price increase in raw materials, shortage of timber…sometimes it’s difficult to cope…You can only make so many units per day,” the sales manager said.
6. Emirates suspends flights to South Africa
UAE-based airline Emirates says that it will temporarily suspend all flights to and from South Africa.
The airline said in a statement on Thursday (14 January), that the suspension will run from Saturday (16 January) to 28 January 2021 due to operational reasons.
It did not provide further details on these operational reasons and the suspension.
“Customers holding tickets with final destinations in South Africa from 16 January to 28 January will not be accepted for travel at their point of origin.
“Emirates regrets any inconvenience caused. Affected customers should contact their travel agent or Emirates contact centre for rebooking options,” it said.
A number of countries have announced travel bans to and from South Africa, citing fears of the new Covid-19 variant discovered in the country.
A variant of the SARS-COV-2 Virus (Covid-19) – currently termed the ‘501.V2 Variant’ – was identified by genomics scientists in South Africa and formally announced by the government in late December.
7. South Africa secures 20 million COVID-19 vaccine doses
The African Union has secured close to 300 million COVID-19 vaccine doses in the largest such agreement yet for Africa, a continental official said on Tuesday. Out of this number, The South African Government have secured 20 million vaccine doses.
The news comes as coronavirus infections spike again in parts of Africa, especially South Africa, where a rapidly spreading variant of the coronavirus now makes up most of the new cases. The continent over the weekend surpassed 3 million confirmed cases since the start of the pandemic, with more than 1.2 million in South Africa.
In an address to South Africans on Monday night, Ramaphosa announced the country had secured 20 million vaccine doses
to be delivered mainly in the first half of the year." He gave no further details but saidwe will make further announcements as we conclude our negotiations with vaccine manufacturers.”
Africa has scrambled on multiple fronts to obtain vaccine supplies. Ramaphosa said the African Vaccine Acquisition Task Team recently created under the AU “has done tremendous work to secure vaccine doses” through what he called intensive engagement with manufacturers.
“The South African government has also been engaging directly with several vaccine manufacturers for over six months,” he said.
“Given the massive global demand for vaccines and the vastly greater purchasing power of wealthier countries, we are exploring all avenues to get as many vaccine doses as soon as possible,” Ramaphosa said.
8. “South Africans should take the vaccines”
EFF leader Julius Malema said he was willing to be the first one in the queue when COVID-19 vaccines finally become available in South Africa.
Watch the video below
9. SA records highest COVID-19 deaths in a single day
South Africa has recorded its highest single one-day death toll from COVID-19. The Health Department says 806 people have succumbed to COVID-19 related complications in the past 24 hours. The national death toll now stands at 35 140.
10. SA scientists testing vaccines against new COVID-19 variant
South African scientists are testing whether vaccines will be less effective against a COVID-19 variant first detected locally. Professor Penny Moore has told Reuters that the National Institute of Communicable Diseases has received samples from several local vaccine trials. She speaks to Jeremy Maggs on eNCA.