Latest coronavirus updates: Third death in SA, cases climb to 1 326


Latest coronavirus updates: Third death in SA, cases climb to 1 326

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It’s day four of lockdown and the SAPS and SANDF have come under fire for their heavy-handed enforcement of the regulations.

Bringing you all the latest coronavirus updates from South
Africa and around the world in real time.

In tracking the spread and severity of the 2019/2020
coronavirus outbreak – officially referred to as COVID-19 – which has already
led to global concern, we aim to keep you informed and up to date with major consequences
of the pandemic.

Internationally recognised as a public health emergency, the first positive cases of the novel coronavirus were recorded in Wuhan, China, in December 2019. Since then, the virus has forced international travel bans, school closures, curfews and quarantine measures which have decimated global financial markets.

The World Health Organisation (WHO) has identified symptoms of the coronavirus to include a fever, cough and breathing difficulties. Severe symptoms include pneumonia, severe acute respiratory syndrome and kidney failure.

Thorough and consistent personal hygiene has been highlighted as the primary preventative measure. The WHO has recommended regular hand washing in conjunction with covering one’s mouth and nose when coughing and sneezing.

The coronavirus mortality rate has been estimated at 3.4% – with persons suffering from pre-existing conditions, particularly auto-immune deficiencies, most likely to succumb to the illness.

Latest coronavirus updates, Tuesday 31 March 2020

Global spread

  • Confirmed coronavirus cases: 801 061
  • Confirmed deaths: 38 749
  • Confirmed recoveries: 172 319
  • Confirmed cases in 199 countries and territories

In South Africa

  • Confirmed coronavirus cases: 1 326
  • Confirmed deaths: 3

13:00 SAST: HRC keeping close eye on cops during lockdown

The South African Human Rights Commission (SAHRC) says it will continue to monitor the observance of human rights throughout the country’s coronavirus lockdown. 

In a statement issued on Tuesday, the commission said it was aware of disturbing footage circulating via social media depicting some members of the South African National Defence Force (SANDF) and South African Police Service (SAPS) using force against people who failed to comply with lockdown regulations.

The commission said it found the incidents “unpleasant and deeply concerning”. (ANA)

12:50: SAST: Botswana declares state of emergency

Botswana President Mokgweetsi Masisi has declared a state of emergency and ordered the country into lockdown from Thursday 2 April, exactly one week after South Africa.

According to SABC News, the country has confirmed three coronavirus cases.

11:57 SAST: Nigeria’s Buhari signs COVID-19 regulations

Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari has signed a law declaring the Covid-19 novel coronavirus a dangerous infectious disease after new cases were reported in the country.

“Twenty new cases of Covid-19 have been reported in Nigeria … As at 09:00 pm 30th March there are 131 confirmed cases of Covid-19 reported in Nigeria with 2 deaths.” the Nigerian Centre for Disease Control said in an update.

A statement issued by Buhari’s by special adviser on media and publicity Femi Adesina said the regulations were effective from March 30 and gave legal backing to the various measures outlined in the president’s national broadcast on March 29, such as the restriction of movement in the Lagos, FCT and Ogun state, aimed at containing the spread of the pandemic in the West African country. (ANA)

Monday 30 March 2020

20:00 SAST: More than 200 arrested in North West 

More than 200 people were arrested for flouting lockdown regulations in North West, Community Safety and Transport Management MEC Sello Lehari  said on Monday.

He said they were arrested for failing to confine to their residential places, while others were arrested for movement between the metropolitan and district areas, misrepresentation that they were infected with COVID-19.

Others were arrested for failure to close liquor premises and for failing to adhere to prohibition of gathering. (Source: ANA)

Police Minister Bheki Cele on Monday said more than 1 000 people were arrested in the country since Friday for violating lockdown conditions.

19:30 SAST: President Cyril Ramaphosa addresses the nation

The president announced that the number of confirmed cases stood at 1 326 with three deaths recorded so far.

According to Ramaphosa, government will be rolling out a massive screening and tracing process with 10 000 field workers screening residents for symptoms.

“We are now entering a new phase in the fight against the COVID-19 pandemic. In the coming days, government will be rolling out a screening, testing, tracing and medical management programme on a huge scale.”

The president also thanked the Motsepe family and Naspers who have donated R1 billion and R1.5 billion respectively and Chinese billionaire Jack Ma for his donation of medical supplies.

He ended his address by saying: “We are In uncharted territories. If we work together, we will beat this disease.May God Bless South Africa and continue to protect her people.”

19:20 SAST: Kenya to use boarding schools, airport hangars for isolation

Kenyan health cabinet secretary Mutahi Kagwe has announced that the government is considering the use of boarding schools, airport hangars and other facilities as isolation centres for possible COVID-19 patients.

19:00 SAST: Global death toll hits 35 905

An AFP tally says more than 35 000 people have died worldwide from the coronavirus pandemic since it emerged late last year in China, most of them in Europe.

In total, 35 905 people have died, including 26 076 in Europe. Italy has the most deaths with 11 591, following by Spain with 7 340 and China with 3 304. (Source: AFP)

17:35 SAST: Second township case confirmed, five under quarantine

Five people in Alexandra township, in Gauteng, have been placed under quarantine after coming into contact with a man who tested positive and then violated isolation regulations and travelled to Limpopo where he is now being isolated.

On Sunday, Western Cape Premier Alan Winde announced the first confirmed COVID-19 case in an informal settlement in Khayelitsha on the outskirts of Cape Town.

13:16 SAST: Nigerian youths torch police station over restrictions

A total of 90 people have been arrested in Katsina State in Nigeria, for allegedly setting the Kusada police station on fire.

The station was torched after the Nigerian government suspended gatherings across the country in order to minimise the spread of COVID-19. 

Police spokesperson Gambo Isah said one of the rioters died during ensuing scuffles. 

According to Isah, the disgruntled youths defied the directives by conducting a prayer meeting on Friday in one of the mosques in Kusada.

Isah said police then arrested the leader of the congregation, which agitated some of his followers.

12:40 SAST: Metro cop, security guard arrested; allegations of abuse

Day four of South Africa’s 21-day lockdown was marred by an incident of lockdown enforcement gone terribly wrong when an Ekurhuleni metro officer and a security guard was arrested for the alleged murder of a Vosloorus man.

According to Independent Police Investigative Directorate (Ipid) spokesperson Sontaga Seisa the man died on Sunday when Ekurhuleni metro police officers were “patrolling the area and noticed people drinking liquor in a tavern”. 

“The police were enforcing the COVID-19 lockdown regulations. It is alleged that officers tried to effect the arrest, [when] some people together with some community members attacked them. In retaliation the police then discharged the rubber bullets. It is further alleged that the deceased was followed to his home verandah where he was fatally shot at.”

Seisa said it was reported that four minors, aged five, six, and 11-year-old twins, were also injured during the shooting, and were taken to a nearby medical facility for treatment. (Source: ANA)

Defence and Military Veterans Minister Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula has condemned any form of abuse committed by soldiers during the 21-day nationwide lockdown.

Mapisa-Nqakula’s remarks follow various allegations of abuse by members of the South African National Defence Force (SANDF) deployed in support of government efforts to contain the COVID-19 pandemic.

“The minister wishes to strongly reiterate the message delivered by the Commander-in-Chief of the SANDF [President Cyril Ramaphosa] to desist from using excessive force against citizens of the country regardless of the level of provocation they may face whilst deployed.

“The minister has since instructed the chief of the SANDF to monitor the situation on the ground and deal with those members proven to have used excessive or unnecessary force against the citizens. Such heavy-handedness is not in the interest of safeguarding our citizens,” the Department of Defence said in a statement on Monday. (Source: SANews)

Sunday 29 March 2020

10:33 SAST: SANDF calls on reserve forces

The South African National Defence Force (SANDF) has called on members of the Reserve Force to assist in their effort to curb the spread of COVID-19.

On Saturday 28 March, military spokesperson Siphiwe Dlamini revealed through a statement that the Reserve Force has been called up to complement the already deployed SANDF in the fight against the spread of the virus.

“The SANDF will be deployed in various capacities in the implementation of the national lockdown in order to execute a broad plan of urban and rural operations. Similarly, the SA Military Health Service has called up Reserve Force doctors, nurses, operational emergency care practitioners together with teams to work with other health practitioners in various fields,” the department said.

10:25 SAST: Wuhan repatriates complete quarantine period

Over 100 South African citizens will be reunited with their families after testing negative for coronavirus at the end of their quarantine at the Ranch Resort in Polokwane, Limpopo. President Cyril Ramaphosa will see them on their way.

The group was placed under quarantine at the resort from 14 March after they were repatriated from coronavirus epicentre Wuhan following the outbreak of the coronavirus.

10:14 SAST: Coronavirus cases increase to 1 187

On Saturday 28 March, Health Minister Zweli Mkhize announced that there are now 1 187 confirmed coronavirus cases in the country. The number stood at 1 170 on Friday 27 March.

This means an increase of 17 in just 24 hours. Gauteng still has the highest number of cases in the country at 533.

Mkhize also noted with concern a number of confirmed coronavirus cases of health workers who work both in the private and public hospitals. Mkhize said 12 health workers have been affected.

The death toll has also been revised from two to one after the person tested negative for the coronavirus.

“The clinical picture was suggestive of COVID-19 (coronavirus) and therefore a test was conducted. Her laboratory results have since been received and were confirmed negative. Her immediate family was also tested and they are also negative. She is therefore no longer considered a COVID-19 case,” said Mkhize. 

10:07 SAST: Patrice Motsepe donates R1bn towards COVID-19 relief

Motsepe held a virtual press conference on Saturday and, on behalf of businesses he is associated with, announced a R1bn pledge with thousands set to be made available immediately.

Earlier in the month, two prominent SA businessmen, Nicky Oppenheimer and Johann Rupert, donated R1bn each toward small and medium enterprises, in anticipation of the financial knock emerging businesses are set to suffer during the ongoing national lockdown.

10:05 SAST: Second SABC employee tests positive

The SABC, on Saturday 28 March, confirmed that a second employee tested positive for the coronavirus. 

According to SAFM News, the second case has been confirmed in Johannesburg at news research. The public broadcaster explained that the employee was off sick and is currently being hospitalised. All employees in the area are already working from home as part of the coronavirus contingency plan.

Friday 27 March 2020

14:14 SAST: Over 60 German tourists grounded, quarantined in Gauteng

One of the German tourists quarantined in Gauteng has tested positive for coronavirus (Covid-19), the Gauteng department of health said on Friday.

“One member of the group who tested positive for Covid-19 is currently at a health facility in Gauteng. The group had planned on leaving the country yesterday [Thursday]. Port health services were alerted and responded to the situation, leading to the group being grounded,” said department spokesperson Kwara Kekana.

Forty-seven members of the group are currently under quarantine at a private facility in Gauteng. (ANA)

13:44 SAST: Uganda police shoot two for violating movement ban

Ugandan police said on Friday that two men were in hospital after being shot for violating restrictions on transport in a bid to curb the spread of coronavirus.

Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni has urged people to stay home but has stopped short of ordering a lockdown.

Schools, places of entertainment and worship and some agricultural markets have been shut for a month and people have been banned from using public transport, and being more than three to a car, or one on a private motorbike. (AFP)

08:55 SAST: First COVID-19 deaths confirmed in South Africa’s Western Cape

Health Minister Zweli Mkhize has confirmed that two patients infected with the COVID-19 virus have died in the Western Cape, marking the first fatalities in South Africa. Mkhize also added that the number of people infected with the coronavirus in South Africa had breached 1 000.

The Health Department noted that it would release further details in due course but revealed that the deaths had occurred at both a public and private hospital.

“This his morning, we wake South Africans up with sad news that we now have our first deaths resulting from COVID-19. These two deaths occurred in the Western Cape. One at a private hospital and the other at a public hospital,” Mkhize said in a statement.

06:58 SAST: Nigerian authorities trying to trace over 4 000 people

Nigerian authorities are trying to trace 4,370 people who were in contact with those who have tested positive for Covid-19, reported the Premium Times.

The Nigerian publication said the minister of information and culture, Lai Mohammed, made this known on Thursday in Abuja, while giving an update on the measures being taken by the government to tackle the pandemic.

“We have 4,370 people of interest whom we are tracing and we urge those who have had contact with suspected cases to immediately report to the authorities.”

“We urge Nigerians to support the authorities in this regard, because we are on the verge of reaching the level of community spread.

“We must stop this immediately or we will record exponential cases in the days ahead,” he was quoted saying.

He said some Nigerians, who flew into the country from overseas, filled wrong addresses and phone numbers in their forms, making it difficult to trace them when the need arose. (ANA)

01:46 SAST: Day one of COVID-19 lockdown in South Africa

South Africa came under a nationwide military-patrolled lockdown on Friday, joining other African countries imposing strict curfews and shutdowns in an attempt to halt the spread of the coronavirus across the continent.

Some 57 million people are to be restricted to their homes during South Africa’s three-week total lockdown which began at midnight.

Kenya, Rwanda and Mali are some of the African countries that have imposed restrictions to curb the spread of the coronavirus, which has been confirmed to have infected 3,203 people and killed 87.

Although Africa’s toll is far lower than in Europe, the United States and the Middle East, health experts say the world’s poorest continent is especially vulnerable and the figures likely fall far short of the reality. (Sofia CHRISTENSEN with AFP African bureaux)

Thursday 26 March 2020

22:29 SAST: Coronavirus pushes Zimbabwe to re-introduce use of US dollar

Zimbabwe has re-introduced the use of foreign currency for domestic transactions in what was seen as a bid to tap into private forex savings as the country gears up for the battle against the novel coronavirus.

In a statement the central bank governor John Mangudya said the move is part of “measures to mitigate the devastating impact of COVID-19 on the Zimbabwean society and the economy”.

The government outlawed the use of foreign currency as legal tender last June after having used a basket of currencies when hyperinflation forced the government to ditch the Zimbabwe dollar in 2009. (AFP)

18:02 SAST: Just hours away from lockdown, confirmed cases in SA at 927

As South Africa faces an imminent lockdown, to be enforced at midnight tonight and lasting until 16 April, the number of confirmed cases in the country has risen to 927 — and increase of 218 positive tests in the past 24 hours. Health minister Zweli Mkhize confirmed the rise in cases shortly before President Cyril Ramaphosa officially deployed the South African National Defence Force (SANDF) to assist with the the National Disaster and the subsequent stringent civilian regulations.

16:04 SAST: Nigeria warns virus cases could explode ‘in days ahead’

Nigeria’s government on Thursday warned that Africa’s most populous nation could soon see an “exponential” increase in coronavirus infections unless contacts of confirmed cases are tracked down quicker.

The country of around 190 million people has so far recorded just 51 infections and 1 death, but testing has been limited.

“We have 4,370 people of interest whom we are tracing. We urge those who have had contact with suspected cases to immediately report to the authorities,” Information Minister Lai Mohammed said. (AFP)

Wednesday 25 March 2020

21:35 SAST: Virus traps dozens of Brazilian tourists in South Africa

Dozens of Brazilian tourists are unable to return home, stranded in Johannesburg hotels, their embassy said Wednesday, after Latam Airlines group reduced direct flights from South Africa because of COVID-19 restrictions.

Airlines around the world are being forced to cancel services as countries have clamped down on travel and closed borders in a bid to control the virus.

Latam Airlines group South Africa and its subsidiaries reduced their international operations by 90 percent. 

Brazil ambassador Nedilson Jorge told AFP that many Brazilians had managed to catch a flight home via Latam on Tuesday, but “not everyone was able to embark, so Latam put some people in the hotels, waiting for the next flight.” (AFP)

19:30 SAST: SA Public transport pumps the brakes during lockdown

The majority of public transport systems in South Africa will come to a grinding halt on Friday morning, after Transport Minister Fikile Mbalula revealed that taxis, buses, trains – and even e-hailing services – would need to suspend operations. Mbalula said that the taxi industry, which is responsible for transporting more than 15 million citizens on a daily basis, would only be allowed to operate under “special circumstances”.

Taxis will only be able to transport citizens classified as ‘essential’ under regulations stipulated by the National Disaster Management Act. In these cases, taxi will be allowed to operate 5:00 and 09:00 and again from 16:00 to 20:00.

18:22 SAST: No booze for sale during SA lockdown, says Cele

Police Minister Bheki Cele has revealed that the three-week lockdown, which comes into effect at midnight on Thursday, will be a ‘dry’ sit-in. Speaking at the justice, crime prevention and security cluster briefing, Cele confirmed that the buying and selling of alcohol during the lockdown period would be strictly prohibited. Cele warned that roadblocks and spot checks, conducted by both the Police Service and National Defence Force, would be implemented to carefully monitor and restrict unnecessary movement until 16 April, saying:

“No movement of liquor from point A to point B. There shall be no movement. If you break these laws, you will be in prison for six months or be fined or both.” 

17:21 SAST: Nurses in Zimbabwe protest lack of protection

Thousands of hospital nurses in Zimbabwe went on strike Wednesday over a lack of protective gear and water shortages days after the country reported its first coronavirus cases, their union said.

Zimbabwe has recorded three cases in less than a week and one of the patients, a 30-year-old broadcaster, died on Monday. (AFP)

15:47 SAST: Nigerian politicians in self-isolation

Senior Nigerian politicians, including a number of state governors and the vice president, were in self-isolation on Wednesday after coming into contact with two individuals infected with coronavirus.

Governor Godwin Obaseki of the southern state of Edo “has gone into self-isolation” and is undergoing a coronavirus test, his advisor, Crusoe Osagie, said in a statement.

“I just took a COVID-19 test, having gone into self-isolation since yesterday evening,” Kayode Fayemi, the governor of Ekiti state, said on Twitter. (AFP)

12:19 SAST: SANParks closes facilities in support of national lockdown

South African National Parks (SANParks) announced its decision to close all its tourism facilities to the public, effective on Wednesday, in support of the lockdown declared by President Cyril Ramaphosa to combat the spread of the Covid-19 pandemic.

SANParks Chief executive, Fundisile Mketeni said as we all face this unprecedented and unpredictable situation. 

“We would like to assure our staff and visitors that their health and wellbeing is of critical importance. We therefore request that all overnight guests vacate the parks today, Wednesday 25 and ensure they have adequate time to return to their homes by the lockdown time of midnight on Thursday, March 26. Day visitors will also not be permitted to enter the parks from today,” said Mketeni. (ANA)

08:33 SAST: Number of confirmed cases in South Africa at 709

With a nationwide lockdown set to be enforced in less than 48 hours, the number of confirmed COVID-19 cases continues to rise in South Africa. As citizens brace themselves for a three-week sit-in, due to be overseen by the South African National Defence Force (SANDF) and police service, Health Minister Zweli Mkhize has warned that cases will continue to rise as the level of testing intensifies.

05:43 SAST: Economic fears as Africa escalates coronavirus response

African nations have ordered curfews and lockdowns in response to the growing coronavirus epidemic, raising fears of turmoil for low-income workers and cash-strapped governments across the continent.

Cases have risen across the world’s poorest continent over the past week to a total of 2,137 and 62 deaths, according to an AFP tally, prompting countries to enact strict counter measures.

There are fears that weak health infrastructure in Africa will leave the continent particularly exposed to an outbreak on the scale of virus-stricken Europe.

Other countries are following suit with similar measures. More are expected to be announced in the coming days.

On Monday, Senegal and Ivory Coast both declared states of emergency and ordered night-time curfews. (by Philippe SIUBERSKI / with AFP Africa bureaux)

Tuesday 24 March 2020

23:50 SAST: DRC declares state of emergency, isolates capital over virus

DR Congo’s President Felix Tshisekedi on Tuesday declared a state of emergency and ordered the isolation of the capital Kinshasa from the rest of the country to avoid the spread of coronavirus.

The new measures include a ban on all travel from Kinshasa to the provinces and from the provinces to the capital to allow for the confinement of the city, he said.

“Given the seriousness and the dangerous nature of this situation, I declare a state of emergency,” Tshisekedi said in a televised address. 

The country has registered 45 cases of the virus including three fatalities, all in Kinshasa. (AFP)

19:30 SAST: Angola records third COVID-19 case, puts 463 in quarantine

 Angola has recorded its third positive case of COVID-19, local media reported, citing health Minister Silvia Lutucuta.

A report on Angola Press Agency said  a 23-year-old Angolan national who arrived on 17 March from Spain after a stop-over in Portugal tested positive, bringing the confirmed cases to three. The first two positive cases of the COVID-19 in Angola were announced on Saturday.

They are two Angolan men aged 36 and 38 years who entered Angola on 17 and 18 March from Portugal. (ANA)

18:02 SAST: Namibia declares a lockdown

The government of Namibia on Tuesday, declared a lockdown after the country recorded it sixth COVID-19 case.

“The public is urged to remain at home and avoid public gatherings at places such as bars, shebeens, nightclubs and markets. The law enforcement organs [are] to enforce these measures,” President Hage Geingob said.

He said internal travel restrictions would apply to Khomas and Erongo region, for a period of 21 days starting on  March 27  and ending on April 16.

Namibia also extended travel ban to all countries around the world for a period of 30 days.The ban applies to all Namibians and permanent residents. (ANA)

10:20 SAST: SA coronavirus cases up to 554

Health Minister Zweli Mkhize has noted that the number of confirmed coronavirus cases in South Africa has risen to 554. Mkhize welcomed President Cyril Ramaphosa’s declaration of a nationwide lockdown which is due to come into effect on Thursday at midnight and last for three weeks.

06:28 SAST: China’s imported virus cases spike as fears grow of second wave

China reported 78 new cases of the deadly coronavirus on Tuesday, with the vast majority brought in from overseas as fears rise of a second wave of infections.

The first new case in nearly a week was also reported in Wuhan — the epicentre where the virus emerged last year — along with three other local infections elsewhere in the country.

Seven more people died, the National Health Commission said, all in Wuhan.

The 74 imported cases confirmed Tuesday were the highest since officials started reporting the data at the beginning of March, and nearly double those reported Monday. (AFP)

Monday 23 March 2020

21:41 SAST: Cyril Ramaphosa announces nationwide lockdown

On Monday 23 March, President Cyril Ramaphosa announced a nationwide lockdown for a period of 21 days. The lockdown period id expected to start at midnight on Thursday 26 March and end at midnight on 16 April.

During this period, all South Africans are expected to stay at home and only leave their house if it is for food, medication or social grants.

Ramaphosa has also called on the South African National Defence Force (SANDF) to assist police in communities and make sure that the safety measures announced, are being implemented.

The categories of people who will be exempted from this lockdown are the following: health workers in the public and private sectors, emergency personnel, those in security services — such as the police, traffic officers, military medical personnel, soldiers — and other persons necessary for the response to the pandemic.

It will also include those involved in the production, distribution and supply of food and basic goods, essential banking services, the maintenance of power, water and telecommunications services, laboratory services, and the provision of medical and hygiene products.

21:20 SAST: DRC confirms first Coronavirus death, five new cases

The Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) has confirmed the first coronavirus (Covid-19) death and five new cases.

The country has reported 23 cases as of 10 March.  The death brings the total number of fatalities reported in sub-Saharan Africa to three, with those reported in Burkina Faso and Gabon last week. (ANA)

13:45 SAST: South African cases jump to 402

In less than 24 hours, the number of confirmed coronavirus cases in South Africa has increased by 128 to 402. This spike, the single largest since the virus was first reported in the country in early March, precedes President Cyril Ramaphosa’s long-awaited national address.

Ramaphosa, who was initially due to address the country on a host of coronavirus-related issues on Sunday, is expected to make a public announcement later tonight.

06:47 SAST: Ramaphosa to address the nation as lockdown threat looms

President Cyril Ramaphosa, who was due to address the nation on Sunday evening, following extensive consultations with the National Command Council and industry stakeholders, will provide an update on the COVID-19 outbreak in South Africa today. Minister in the Presidency, Jackson Mthembu, noted that meetings carried on late into the night and that arrangements were being made to facilitate the president’s address on Monday morning.

While Ramaphosa’s Spokesperson Khusela Diko denied rumours of a national lockdown, numerous stakeholders have warned that if South Africans continued to disobey the regulations stipulated by the National Disaster Act, the president will be left with little other choice but to implement tougher restrictions.

Minister in the Presidency, Jackson Mthembu meeting with national Heads of Communication and Media Liaison Officers on strengthening government communication to citizens on the COVID-19 which has been declared a National Disaster by President Ramaphosa. [Photo: GCIS]

Sunday 22 March 2020

23:29 SAST: Botswana president in self-quarantine after visit to Namibia

otswana President Mokgweetsi Masisi has gone into self-quarantine after a visit to neighbouring Namibia, which has three coronavirus cases, to attend the inauguration of the new president there, government announced Sunday.

Namibian President Hage Geingob was sworn in at Windhoek on Saturday.

Botswana’s director of health services had placed Masisi “on self-isolation for a period of 14 days starting March 21 following his trip to” Namibia, Botswana government said in a statement posted on its Facebook page. (AFP)

20:32 SAST: Number of positive South African COVID-19 cases at 274

Health Minister Zweli Mkhize has confirmed that the number of confirmed coronavirus cases in South Africa has risen to 274 – an increase of 34 cases in less than 24 hours. The provincial breakdown of cases as follows:

  • Gauteng: 132
  • Western Cape: 88
  • KwaZulu-Natal: 36
  • Free State: 9
  • Mpumalanga: 6
  • Eastern Cape: 2
  • Limpopo: 1

19:34 SAST: Ghana records first coronavirus death

Ghana has recorded its first death from Covid-19, in Kumasi, Ashanti Region, a local publication reported.

GhanaWeb said that the deputy minister of health in Ghana Alex Abban, confirmed the death.

Abban said the patient, a 61-year-old Lebanese trader, was the 11th confirmed case in the country and a resident of Kumasi, according to the report.

The man was said to have fallen sick and reported himself to a health facility with a fever and cough.

His test result came back positive for the virus and it was made known on March 19.

“The information I got from the Director-General of the Ghana Health Service is that that person has died. He died today,” Abban was quoted saying.

So far Ghana has recorded 21 cases of Covid-19. (ANA)

18:40 SAST: Zimbabwe government warns worshippers of church gatherings

 Zimbabwe spokesman warned people against flocking to church Sunday in the face of the COVID-19 pandemic, and even claimed that worshippers risked going to hell.

“A quick survey around town (in the capital Harare) shows a lot of religious activity above 100 people,” government spokesman Nick Mangwana said on Twitter.

“Let’s be responsible. All of us will die. And then go to hell,” he said.

The government has banned gatherings of more than 100 people to ward off the spread of the new coronavirus. (AFP)

Saturday 21 March 2020

13:34 SAST: Now 240 confirmed cases in South Africa

The Ministry of Health and the National Institute for Communicable Diseases (NICD) confirmed on Saturday, 21 March 2020, that the number of confirmed cases in South Africa now stands at 240.

The Eastern Cape recorded its first case – a 28-year-old woman who travelled to Germany. Gauteng currently has the most confirmed cases with 125 confirmed reports, while cases in the Western Cape went up from 56 to 74.

Friday 20 March 2020

06:45 SAST: Global COVID-19 death toll exceeds 10 000

The deadly COVID-19 outbreak, which was first reported in December 2019, has killed more than 10 000 people, globally. Johns Hopkins University, which tracks data reported by the World Health Organization (WHO) and other sources, confirmed the latest figures on Friday morning.

In Africa, 34 out of 54 countries have reported cases of COVID-19; 16 coronavirus-related deaths have been confirmed.

Thursday 19 March 2020

21:27 SAST: Italy overtakes China

Italy on Thursday overtook China’s coronavirus death total, its toll reaching 3 405 after it recorded 427 new deaths in 24 hours, according to an AFP toll based on official figures.

There are now a total of 41 035 cases in the country, where the government announced some lockdown measures will be extended beyond their original deadline of 3 April. 

20:30 SAST: Key points from Mkhize’s Q&A with doctors

  • The health minister said he believes the number of positive cases will shoot up to more than 200 by Friday morning;
  • Mkhize estimates about 60% to 70% of South Africans will contract the coronavirus, but only about 20% of those will be serious cases;
  • He said the country’s capacity for testing for the coronavirus is about 5 000 per day. This will increase to 15 000 by next week, and to more than 30 000 by mid-April; and
  • Mkhize said the government will need to go out to poorer areas to monitor and test people to circumvent expensive medical costs;

19:00 SAST: First cases confirmed in Free State

The National Institute for Communicable Diseases (NICD) announced the first confirmed cases of coronavirus have been found in the Free State, just hours after the total number of confirmed cases was confirmed at 150. 

“The patients are being informed as we speak, some have already been taken into quarantine by the provincial government. We will fully disclose the numbers of these cases tomorrow, once all the patients are aware,” the NCID said. 

Wednesday 18 March 2020

13:30 SAST: Mauritius closes its borders

Mauritius has closed its borders to all foreign nationals as it tries to contain the spread of the coronavirus (COVID-19).

The Prime Minister of Mauritius Pravind Jugnauth confirmed on Tuesday 17 March that three people tested positive for coronavirus in the country.

10:39 SAST: South African cricketers in self-isolation

Members of the South African cricket team have been told to undergo a 14-day period of self-isolation and social distancing to prevent the spread of coronavirus following their return from an aborted tour of India.

The players arrived back in South Africa on Wednesday ten days after departing on a tour during which they played no cricket.

The first of three scheduled one-day internationals was abandoned without a ball bowled because of rain and the remaining two were cancelled. (AFP)

10:02 SAST: SAA and SA Express hit by COVID-19

All SA Express operations have been suspended ‘until further’ notice because of the the spread of COVID-19. The beleaguered airline, which has recently been placed under business rescue administration, confirmed that it would be in contact with customers regarding contingency measures.

The national carrier, South African Airways (SAA), has also been hit by the coronavirus outbreak, announcing that it had been forced to cancel 162 flights over the next two weeks – 38 international flights and 124 regional.

09:40 SAST: SA cases rocket to 116 overnight

Mere hours after Health Minister Zweli Mkhize confirmed the number of coronavirus cases to be 85, a recently-released statement from the Health Department showed a dramatic increase in confirmed cases.

The increase of 31 confirmed infections, many of which emanate from local transmissions, is the single biggest jump in numbers since the virus was first recognised in South Africa two weeks ago.

09:12 SAST: SA Parliament suspends proceedings

Parliamentary proceedings in both the National Assembly and National Council of Provinces (NCOP) have been suspended until further notice to safeguard the health of politicians and staff.

While National Assembly proceedings were finalised on Wednesday, NCOP obligations are expected to finish on Thursday.

08:43 SAST: ZCC postpones Easter pilgrimage

South Africa’s largest African-initiated church, the Zion Christian Church (ZCC), has postponed its annual Easter pilgrimage to its headquarters in Moria in Limpopo province due to the novel coronavirus (Covid-19) outbreak.

ZCC spokesperson Reverend Emanuel Motolla said church leader Right Reverend Barnabas Lekganyane made the decision after being briefed by a national government delegation led by health minister Zweli Mkhize. (ANA)

00:20 SAST: South African coronavirus cases rise to 85

After a period of uneasy silence, Health Minister Zweli Mkhize revealed that the number of confirmed coronavirus cases had risen to 85; an increase of 23 in the space of 48 hours.

Mkhize noted that more cases of local transmission were beginning to occur and that, as such, a greater degree of social distancing, in conjunction with consistent personal hygiene, needed to be enforced to halt the spread. This comes in the wake of President Cyril Ramaphosa’s ‘state of disaster’ declaration, which has prohibited international travel and large social gatherings.

The provincial breakdown of newly-confirmed coronavirus cases as follows:

  • Gauteng: 14
  • KwaZulu-Natal: 4
  • Western Cape: 5

Tuesday 17 March 2020

16:19 SAST: SA Social Development entities implement safety measures

Social Development Minister Lindiwe Zulu has called on the department and its public entities to implement measures to minimise the spread of Coronavirus (COVID-19).

Zulu made the call during a meeting with the executives of the National Development Agency (NDA), the South African Social Security Agency (SASSA) and the South African Council for Social Service Professions to deliberate and agree on sector-wide precautionary measures to prevent the transmission of and reduce the impact of COVID-19 at service delivery points.

This follows the declaration of COVID-19 as a national disaster.

The service delivery points, which comprise Social Development, SASSA and NDA sites, provide much-needed services to the most vulnerable groups, including children, youth, women, older persons and persons with disabilities. (SAnews)

00:13 SAST: Travel bans impacting East Africa

Tanzania and Somalia on Monday became the latest East Africa countries to confirm their first cases of coronavirus, as neighbouring countries shuttered borders and schools as fears of contagion rose.

As the global pandemic takes root in Africa, Chinese billionaire Jack Ma announced he was donating 20,000 testing kits, 100,000 masks and 1,000 protective suits to each of the continent’s 54 countries.

“We take precautions and get prepared ahead of time, as Africa can benefit from the experience and lessons of other countries that were earlier hit hard by the virus,” he said in a statement on Twitter.

In a little over a week, 21 new African countries have reported cases, bringing the total affected to 30. (AFP)

Monday 16 March 2020

18:43 SAST: Black Monday for JSE

The Johannesburg Stock Exchange (JSE) plunged 12% on Monday as South Africa imposed tough restrictions after declaring a national state of disaster in a bid to curb the spread of the novel coronavirus.

The JSE fell below 38 784 points, its lowest level since August 2013, following a downward trend in markets around the world sparked by concerns about the economic fallout of COVID-19.

The JSE Africa All-Share Index tumbled as much as 12%, while the rand currency lost 2.2% against the US dollar to trade at R16.64/$. (AFP)

17:39 SAST: ‘We will still arrest you’ – Cele

Police Minister Bheki Cele said that the eThekwini Municipality’s decision to stop using breathalyser tests due to the coronavirus outbreak does not “mean we are stopping from checking that you are drunk…we will go straight to blood tests”. 

The tough-talking minister added that there would be nurses and doctors in the field where roadblocks would be deployed.

After the morning’s inter-ministerial meeting, Justice Minister Ronald Lamola also said if the epidemic continues to ravage South Africa, the intervention might be upgraded from national disaster to a state of emergency. 

“That would be an element of last resort, if there is a need.  We are also showing you that we are putting all options on the table and we will use all the necessary means as guided by the Constitution,” Lamola said. 

Trade and Industry Minister Ebrahim Patel said corporates should implement measures to avoid the spread of COVID-19 in the workplace. 

“That means social distance provisions around canteens, clocking-in arrangements – all of those will be worked through after the Nedlac meeting. 

“We are looking at industrial hygiene and mass cleaning of surfaces and also, this is a useful opportunity to see how workplace medical facilities could be used both for staff, but also in some instances, for surrounding communities,” Patel said. (ANA)

14:30 SAST: Government beefs up testing

Government is set to intensify testing for the coronavirus in the country in an effort to contain and limit its spread across the country.

Health Minister Zweli Mkhize said it is through increased testing that government will have reliable data that will allow for it to adequately respond to the outbreak.

“We are intensifying our testing mechanism. This is to make sure that we have reliable data and this becomes important because it is data that tells us the severity of the disease,” he said. (SA News)

15:02 SAST: PSL fixtures suspended

The Premiership matches scheduled to be played this week have been postponed by the Premier Soccer League (PSL) due to the threat of COVID-19, ahead of a Board of Governors meeting on Thursday that will outline the way forward for the season.

There were two huge games in the title race scheduled for this week, with Mamelodi Sundowns set to host Orlando Pirates on Tuesday and Kaizer Chiefs meant to host Bidvest Wits on Wednesday.

Those games, as well as a full round of eight matches scheduled for the weekend, have been postponed. (ANA)

14:11 SAST: Liberia implements travel ban

Liberian President George Weah on Monday said that all travel from countries with over 200 coronavirus cases would be banned, after the West African state recorded its first infection.  

The impoverished country on Monday announced that head of its Environmental Protection Agency, who recently returned to Liberia from Switzerland, had tested positive for the virus.  

Following the confirmation, Weah gave a televised address in which he said “all travels from all countries” with over 200 cases were henceforth banned. (AFP)

14:03 SAST: Ghana health workers bemoan lack of protective gear

Ghanaian health workers have expressed their fears of being exposed to coronavirus (COVID-19) due to the lack of protective equipment and gear, Africa Feeds reported on Monday.

The country so far has recorded six cases but there are fears the number of infections could rise as people go in for more tests.

Several doctors and nurses at Ghana’s premier teaching hospital Korle Bu told Africa Feeds that they might consider not working if tools needed for work were not provided.

Meanwhile, Ghana’s President Nana Akufo-Addo announced that his government was allocating some $100 million (R1.7 billion) for the fight against the virus. (ANA)

10:47 SAST: Spread in SA described as ‘explosive’ by Health Minister Mkhize

The spread of COVID-19 in South Africa, which was first detected on 5 March, has been described as worse than exponential. Health Minister Zweli Mkhize, while addressing the media on Monday morning following President Cyril Ramaphosa’s declaration of a “state of disaster”, noted, with serious concern, the rise in local transmissions.

The total number of positive coronavirus cases in South Africa was revised to at least 65, with Limpopo recording its first patient.

07:49 SAST: SA Medical Association calls for telemedicine

The South African Medical Association (SAMA) said it supported measures announced by President Cyril Ramaphosa on Sunday night to contain the spread of Covid-19 and advocated the distribution of health services and information via electronic information and telecommunication, otherwise known as telemedicine.

“Telemedicine has emerged as a crucial element of the response to coronavirus in many countries, and enables patients to contact health providers from their homes, and get appropriate medical advice based on the development symptoms, without endangering healthcare workers, and other patients,” SAMA chairperson Dr Angelique Coetzee said.

Current telemedicine guidelines of the Health Professions Council of South Africa (HPCSA) however made no room for such consultations and only provided for face-to-face interaction between patient and practitioner.

“In light of the extraordinary situation in which we find ourselves, we call on the Department of Health, as well as the HPCSA, to advocate in favour of telemedicine as one of the mitigating strategies government must employ to contain the spread of coronavirus,” said Coetzee. (ANA)

Sunday 15 March 2020

20:30: SA President Ramaphosa declares ‘state of disaster’

South African President Cyril Ramaphosa has officially declared a “state of disaster” in an attempt to minimise the spread of the deadly coronavirus, which has already infected 61 people in the country. The following measures have been announced:

  1. A national state of disaster is declared in terms of the Disaster Management Act.
  2. Travel ban on high-risk countries from 18 March 2020.
  3. SA citizens to not travel to high-risk countries.
  4. Gatherings of more than a 100 people are prohibited.
  5. Large events and celebrations are cancelled.
  6. Schools closed from Wed 18 March until Easter weekend.
  7. Working closely with universities, colleges etc to increase hygiene and put other appropriate responses in place.
  8. Businesses are called upon to take measures to intensify hygiene control.
  9. Surveillance and testing systems are being strengthened at hospitals.
  10. Partnering with the private sector to develop a tracing, tracking and monitoring system for all those affected by coronavirus.
  11. Calling on everyone to take various personal measures as previously stated (hygiene, elbow greetings, etc.).
  12. Package to be put together as a response to the economic impact of the disease.
  13. Establishment of National Command Council chaired by the president to meet three times a week to coordinate responses to pandemic.

Minister in the Presidency Jackson Mthembu confirmed that a ministerial media briefing will take place on Monday morning at 10:00 to elaborate on South Africa’s response strategy.

12:30 SAST: SA coronavirus cases increase to 51

The total number of coronavirus (COVID-19) cases is now at 51 after 13 new cases were confirmed on Sunday 15 March.

There are seven new patients in Gauteng, five in the Western Cape and one in KwaZulu-Natal.

Saturday 14 March 2020

19:43 SAST: Namibia confirms two coronavirus cases

Two cases of the coronavirus have been confirmed in Namibia, according to Health Minister Kalumbi Shangala.

Two tourists, a couple from Spain who arrived in Namibia on Wednesday, had tested positive for the virus.

“The couple to who the positive result relate was immediately quarantined and contact tracing commenced. Laboratory test results were received from South Africa on Friday night.”

Namibia, eSwatini, Ethiopia, and Rwanda have all reported their first COVID-19 cases over the past 48 hours.

The New Era newspaper reported that Namibia’s 30th independence celebrations had been called off due to the virus outbreak. The celebration was supposed to held on 21 March. (ANA)

16:45 SAST: SA coronavirus cases increase to 38

The total number of coronavirus (COVID-19) cases is now at 38 after 14 new cases were confirmed on Saturday 14 March. The total number of cases was at 24 just one day ago on Friday 13 March. 

There are seven new patients in Gauteng, six new patients in the Western Cape and one new patient in KwaZulu-Natal.

13:51 SAST: Iran reports 97 new coronavirus deaths

Iran said on Saturday 14 March that coronavirus claimed 97 more lives, raising the country’s total to 611, as the number of confirmed cases jumped again.

According to AFP, Health ministry spokesman Kianoush Jahanpour said that “1,365 fresh cases have been added to the number of confirmed infections in the past 24 hours”, bringing the total to 12 729.

10:56 SAST: Rwanda confirms first case of COVID-19

An indian citizen who arrived from Mumbai, India on 8 March, has tested positive for the coronavirus. The patient had no symptoms upon arrival in Rwanda and reported himself into a health facility on 13 March.

He is currently undergoing treatment and is in a stable condition.

10:28 SAST: South African repatriates land in Polokwane

A total of 146 South Africans from coronavirus epicentre Wuhan, have officially landed in Polokwane Limpopo, where they will immediately be transported to the chosen quarantine site.  

The initial number of South Africans stood at 122, however, it has since escalated to 146, excluding all medical staff. 

The repatriates and South African National Defence Force (SANDF) officials, including medical staff, will be taken to the controversial Ranch Resort Hotel just 21 kilometres away from the airport. They will then be quarantined for 21 days before re-integrating into their communities. 

09:48 SAST: Eswatini confirms first case of coronavirus

The health ministry in Eswatini has reported the first confirmed case of coronavirus on Saturday 14 March.

According to EWN, a 33-year-old woman, who returned from the United States at the end of last month, travelled to Lesotho before going back home to Eswatini. She is currently in isolation.

08:12 SAST: Trump declares state of emergency in US

US President Donald Trump declared a national emergency in what critics say was a long-delayed admission of the gravity of the coronavirus crisis that has triggered the shutdown of schools, sporting events, offices and travel in the world’s richest country.

Trump’s declaration Friday frees up some $40 billion in disaster relief funds for local authorities. 

The House of Representatives early Saturday also overwhelmingly passed a coronavirus relief package backed by Trump which will provide for paid sick leave and free coronavirus tests for Americans affected by the outbreak. (Sebastian Smith with Peter Hutchison in New York for AFP)

Friday 13 March 2020

15:55: Global sport disruptions

The Australian F1 Grand Prix is cancelled.

India postpones its cricket championship until at least April 15.

The world table tennis body suspends all activities until the end of April.

All football in France is suspended for an indefinite period.

UEFA postpones all Champions League and Europa League matches scheduled to be played next week.

In the United States the National Hockey League halts the season.

15:28: Two Egyptian men detained after harassing Chinese

Egyptian prosecutors on Thursday ordered four-days’ detention for two citizens who discriminated against a Chinese man by accusing him of having Covid-19.

The incident took place on Tuesday, reported Al-Ahram daily newspaper’s online portal, Ahram Online.

The publication said footage of the incident showed the driver of what appeared to be a cab hailing service holding a tissue over his mouth while he was driving a Chinese man, while another driver filming the incident shouted to the driver to “throw him out”. (ANA)

15:04 SAST: First case of coronavirus confirmed in Ethiopia

The first case of coronavirus has been confirmed in Ethiopia on Friday 13 March.

It is believed that a 48-year-old Japanese National arrived in country from Burkina Faso. The man arrived in Ethiopia on 4 March and is currently in isolation, receiving medical treatment.

13:52 SAST: Limpopo quarantine site causes controversy

The Ranch Resort in Limpopo, now deemed the designated quarantine site for South Africans returning from Wuhan, has become somewhat of a controversial topic.

After the announcement of the site by Health Minister Zweli Mkhize, social media users made up of Limpopo residents expressed anger and fear over the location, asking why government chose to place people that are potentially infected with the coronavirus in their province.

Despite an uproar and rumoured protests, the government went on to annouce that the quarantine site is a no-go area. The site is currently guarded by the army and the South African Police Service (SAPS). Two perimeters have been set up around the site for extra security.

Let’s educate ourselves on #Covid_19 pic.twitter.com/fPwzqZaVbM

— Dr Zweli Mkhize (@DrZweliMkhize) March 13, 2020

13:33 SAST: Global coronavirus deaths pass 5 000

The death toll from the coronavirus pandemic has risen to 5,043, according to an AFP tally based on official sources at 1100 GMT on Friday.

A total of 3,176 people have died in mainland China, followed by 1,016 in Italy, and 514 in Iran — the three countries with the highest number of deaths.

Since COVID-19 was first detected in December, more than 134,300 people have been infected in 121 countries and territories. (AFP)

13:16 SAST: South African coronavirus cases jump to 24

Health Minister Zweli Mkhize confirms that the number of people confirmed to be infected with the coronavirus has increased to 24. The first positive case in the country was reported on Thursday 5 March.

12:34 SAST: Ghanaian government to announce travel restrictions

Ghana’s minister of information, Kojo Oppong Nkumah, has said that government would on Friday make an announcement regarding travel restrictions on countries with confirmed cases of coronavirus (Covid-19).

Graphic Online reported that Nkrumah, who spoke in a radio interview on Accra-based Peace FM, further disclosed that the meeting about the restrictions was chaired by president Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo.

The deputy minister of foreign affairs, Charles Owiredu, has said although consular services had been suspended, emergency services were still being provided. (ANA)

Thursday 12 March 2020

10:08 SAST: Kenya confirms first case of COVID-19

The first case of coronavirus has been detected in Kenya. The case is a Kenyan citizen who travelled from the United States on 5 March.

The health minister says health officials have traced all the relevant contacts.

19:30 SAST: Free State coronavirus case dismissed

Speaking at a media briefing about the arrival of 122 South Africans from Wuhan, China, Health Minister Zweli Mkhize said that there had in fact been no local transmission after a Free State man who initially tested positive for the coronavirus, has now tested negative.  

On Thursday 12 March, government said that a 32-year-old male from the Free State came into contact with a Chinese businessman, and then tested positive. This was thought to be the first case of local transmission in South Africa.

10:07 SAST: Four new cases of coronavirus in SA, bringing total to 17 

The South African government confirmed on Thursday 12 March that four new cases of the coronavirus have been found, bringing the total number from 13 to 17. 

“As the South African government, we take note of the announcement by the World Health Organisation director-general that it has declared the COVID-19 a pandemic. A pandemic is a worldwide spread of a new disease,” the statement read.

“Today, 12 March 2020, South Africa now has 17 confirmed cases of COVID-19. This is an additional four cases from yesterday,” it added. 

The statement did not specify where the four additional cases were found. 

09:10 SAST: First coronavirus patient in SA making a good recovery

The KwaZulu-Natal Health Department says the 38-year-old patient, who was the first to test positive for coronavirus in the country, is making a good recovery.

The man is currently receiving treatment at Grey’s Hospital. According to SABC News, the National Institute for Communicable Diseases (NICD) confirmed that two of the seven cases in KwaZulu-Natal are in Pietermaritzburg, while the other four are in Durban.

Health MEC Nomagugu Simelane-Zulu says government is doing all it can to contain the spread of the virus:

“The reason why we as the department have not allowed them to go home is because protocols say, you only go home once you have tested for the virus. So he is now waiting for that process, he is in the hospital, he is in an isolation ward and he is feeling well.”

05:38 SAST: US imposes strict travel ban on Europe

US President Donald Trump on Wednesday announced measures meant to shore up an economy reeling from the new coronavirus pandemic, while simultaneously downplaying the situation.

He also imposed a travel ban on mainland Europe for 30 days and stated trade would be halted, although he later backtracked the latter part. (AFP)

04:22 SAST: Zimbabwe airport not yet ready to deal with outbreak

Zimbabwe’s parliamentary portfolio committee on health has called for increased preventative measures at the country’s main Robert Gabriel Mugabe Airport to detect and to stop Coronavirus (COVID-19) from seeping into the southern African nation, state media reported. 

During the tour of the airport, workers from Zimbabwe’s immigration department were reportedly not putting on face masks while officers from the Civil Aviation Authority of Zimbabwe (CAAZ) were reported to be “wearing wrong masks”. 

“Wilkins is definitely prepared, but the airport is still porous. More still needs to be done. I would place their (Robert Mugabe International Airport) preparedness at 60%,” the portfolio committee chairperson Dr Ruth Labode told The Herald. (ANA)

Wednesday 11 March 2020

19:30 SAST: Coronavirus officially declared a pandemic

The new coronavirus outbreak can now be described as a pandemic, the head of the World Health Organization announced Wednesday.

WHO chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said he was troubled by the spread and severity of the outbreak, along with a lack of action taken to combat it.

“WHO has been assessing this outbreak around the clock and we’re deeply concerned, both by the alarming levels of spread and severity, and by the alarming levels of inaction,” he told a news conference in Geneva.

“We have therefore made the assessment that COVID-19 can be characterised as a pandemic.”

The number of cases in over 100 countries around the world has risen to more than 124 000, with over 4 500 deaths, including a jump in fatalities in Iran and Italy in particular, according to an AFP tally. (Robin Millard AFP)

A screening centre at OR Tambo International Airport in Johannesburg. Image via Twitter: @PresidencyZA

15:30 SAST: Gauteng patient ‘critical

Health officials in Gauteng have been put on high alert, after it was revealed that a patient in the province is now in a critical condition due to the contraction of coronavirus. The deadly disease has been wreaking havoc across the world, and it’s beginning to cause some real problems on the domestic front.

Gauteng health department spokesperson Kwara Kekana confirmed this on Wednesday, saying further information would be issued later in the day. The health ministry had earlier announced that a total of 13 people around the country had tested positive for the virus.

14:03 SAST: Middleburg school closes amid coronavirus fears

The principle added that, should the tests come back positive, the school would remain closed on Thursday.

A private school in Middelburg, Mpumalanga, has closed its doors for the day following concern that a parent of a pupil may have contracted the coronavirus. The principle confirmed the school’s closure on Wednesday, adding that while tests were being conducted on the mother of one of the pupils classes would be suspended.

11:50 SAST: Concerns over Lesotho’s health system

Concerns are mounting in Lesotho about the country’s readiness in handling the coronavirus.

While the land-locked kingdom on Wednesday 11 March said it was screening all land and air arrivals at its only international airport, it didn’t have coronavirus testing capabilities.

According to EWN, Lesotho is waiting for results from the National Institute for Communicable Diseases (NICD) in South Africa to confirm or deny its one suspected case.

10:45 SAST: Six new cases of coronavirus confirmed in South Africa

In Gauteng:

  • A 33-year-old-woman who had returned from Italy at the beginning of the month has tested positive.
  • A couple – both in their mid-thirties – returned from Italy on 9 March, and have now been placed in quarantine.
  • A 57-year-old male also contracted the disease while travelling through Austria.

In KwaZulu-Natal

  • A 40-year-old male who came back from Portugal on Saturday has come down with coronavirus.

In the Western Cape

  • The province’s official “patient zero” landed back in the country on Monday, following a tour of Switzerland, Austria, Germany and Turkey. The 36-year-old man has tested positive for coronavirus.

06:43 SAST: War brings unexpected benefits to ‘virus-free’ Libya

Despite advice from health authorities to shun public gatherings, Moayed al-Missaoui and friends watched an Italian Serie A football match in a buzzing cafe in the Libyan capital Tripoli.

While the novel coronavirus has affected more than 100 countries since December, many in Libya believe their war-torn country’s isolation may lessen the threat.

For the television spectators, turmoil since a 2011 revolution that turned Libya into a no-go zone has finally come up with a positive side.

The constant closures of Tripoli’s only functioning airport and limited links with the outside world have so far buffered the North African country from COVID-19, unlike many of its neighbours.

“We’re sheltered from the virus in Libya, whose capital is under siege and where land and air links are closed,” said Moayed, a university student. (Jihad Dorgham for AFP)

05:00 SAST: Coronavirus suspect resurfaces in Zimbabwe, placed in isolation

The Thai national who caused anxiety in Zimbabwe after he escaped from the Wilkins Infectious Disease Hospital earlier this week before doctors tested him for coronavirus has returned to the hospital.

State-owned The Herald newspaper reported on Tuesday that the 26-year-old presented himself to the isolation centre.

City health director Prosper Chonzi told the publication that the man will be released if he tests negative. The results are expected later today. (ANA)

Tuesday 10 March 2020

18:37 SAST: South African soldiers embark on Wuhan rescue mission

An evacuation operation led by the South African National Defence Force (SANDF) departs from OR Tambo International Airport at 21:00. The mission, sanctioned by the Inter-Ministerial Task Team (IMTT), intends to evacuate 122 South Africans from the epicentre of the coronavirus.

The South African evacuees are expected back on home soil on Friday 13 March. Upon arrival, the citizens will be placed under quarantine to prevent the possible spread of COVID-19, which has already infected seven people in South Africa.

Commander-in-Chief of the SANDF President Cyril Ramaphosa with the team of military personnel that will be leaving South Africa tonight to embark on a mission to repatriate South African citizens who are currently in Wuhan, China, at the epicentre of the coronavirus / Image via Twitter: PresidencyZA @PresidencyZA

16:45 SAST: SA women that tested positive discharged from hospital

A South African woman who tested positive for the coronavirus has been discharged from the Charlotte Maxeke Hospital in Johannesburg.

According to SABC News, doctors say she doesn’t exhibit any symptoms, however, she will continue with self-isolation and be monitored while they await final results.

13:05 SAST: Lesotho suspends international travel

Lesotho has suspended all international travel to minimise the spread of the coronavirus.

The country’s ministry of health on Tuesday 10 March notified staff in an internal memo after Cabinet reached the decision on Monday.

Health spokesperson Tumisang Mokoai confirmed that the memo had been issued. As it stands, Lesotho has no COVID-19 cases.

12:32 SAST: Still no confirmed cases in Malawi

Malawi still does not have any confirmed cases of Covid-19, local media reported on Tuesday.

Online publication Malawi24 said a 21-year-old woman had arrived from China on Saturday and gone to hospital on Sunday complaining of tightness in her chest and difficulty in breathing, but did not have a fever and was neither coughing nor sneezing.

It quoted the director of health and social services for Blantyre district, Dr Gift Kawalazira as saying the woman had been quarantined, although preliminary investigations so far did not point towards Covid-19, which has spread globally since being first detected in China last December. (ANA)

12:15 SAST: Lebanon records first novel coronavirus death

A Lebanese man died Tuesday from the novel coronavirus, a health ministry source said, marking the country’s first recorded death from an epidemic that has infected 41 people nationwide. (AFP)

06:43 SAST: Italy’s coronavirus quarantine rules intensify

Italians have been told to stay at home and avoid all non-essential travel as quarantine measures were extended to the whole country to stop the spread of the coronavirus.

From Tuesday, the movements of Italy’s population of 60 million are severely limited. Travel is only allowed for “urgent, verifiable work situations and emergencies or health reasons”.

The latest decree prohibits “all forms of gatherings in public places or sites open to the public” — going further than the rules that went into force over the weekend in large parts of northern Italy.

To encourage people to stay in, bars and restaurants are only allowed to open between 6am and 6pm, and only if it is possible to keep a distance of at least a metre between customers.

Schools and universities are closed, and all exams cancelled. (AFP)

06:24 SAST: First coronavirus death recorded in Canada

Canada has recorded its first death from the new coronavirus, health officials in the westernmost province of British Columbia announced Monday.

The victim, a man living at an elderly care facility, “was infected with COVID-19 (and) passed away last night,” the province’s health officer Bonnie Henry told reporters.

Officials have not released the victim’s age.

The virus has killed more than 4 000 people and infected over 110 000 worldwide since it emerged late last year.

Monday 9 March 2020

18:15 SAST: Speaking of fake news…

What are the chances that POTUS saw something on a Facebook mom’s group and decided to Tweet it as fact? Trump has dismissed concerns about the coronavirus, suggesting that the flu is much worse. Of course, Donny T has failed to account for mortality rates, the threat to the elderly, and the amount of hospitalisation that is needed for those who contract COVID-19. Someone should unplug his modem…

So last year 37,000 Americans died from the common Flu. It averages between 27,000 and 70,000 per year. Nothing is shut down, life & the economy go on. At this moment there are 546 confirmed cases of CoronaVirus, with 22 deaths. Think about that!

— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) March 9, 2020

18:10 SAST: With information, comes disinformation

Of course, something like a coronavirus outbreak can encourage the fake news peddlers to crawl from under their rocks. We’ve done a bit of debunking this afternoon, identifying the stories that simply aren’t true.

15:00 SAST: Seven positive cases confirmed in South Africa

During an inter-ministerial committee briefing on Monday afternoon, Health Minister Zweli Mkhize confirmed a further four positive coronavirus cases, all emanating from the tour group which had travelled back to South Africa from Italy on 1 March.

The country’s first confirmed case, which was reported on 5
March, concerned a 38-year-old man from KwaZulu-Natal. The patient’s wife also
tested positive for the coronavirus along with another member of the 10-person
group which had travelled to Italy.

South Africa’s confirmed coronavirus toll now stands at seven.
Mkhize confirmed that the three remaining travellers were being tested as a
matter of urgency.

As a result of the positive test results, Grayston Preparatory School and Cowan House Preparatory School chose to close and halt classes. Both schools cater to the children of those who have been confirmed to have the coronavirus.

South African Health Minister Zweli Mkhize addresses the media on coronavirus cases in the country (09/03/2020) / Image via Twitter:
@DrZweliMkhize

13:20 SAST: Capital of Rwanda suspends all public events, conferences and gatherings

In an attempt to stop the spread of coronavirus, the capital city of Rwanda, Kigali, has suspended has suspended almost all public events. The local government announced:

“The City of Kigali informs the public that events such as exhibitions, marching, sports and other forms of gatherings are all suspended until further Notice”

11:28 SAST: Angola relaxes travel restrictions for African citizens

Angola has removed three African countries from a list of nations whose citizens are barred from entering the country due to the COVID-19 epidemic, according to reports.

Last month the health minister said travellers from China, South Korea, Iran, Italy, as well as Nigeria, Egypt and Algeria — which at the time where the only African countries with confirmed cases of the coronavirus disease — would not be allowed to enter Angola as a protective measure.

The secretary of state for public health Franco Mufinda said Angola had now decided to remove the African countries from the list.

Angolan citizens returning from the four above mentioned African countries are still subject to quarantine upon their return.

08:00 SAST: First coronavirus death on African soil recorded in Egypt

The first coronavirus-related death in Africa occurred in
Egypt on Sunday night. A 60-year-old German tourist, who had been aboard a Nile
cruise ship, was transferred to an isolation ward on 7 March.

According to Prime Minister Mostafa Madbouli, 171 passengers
and crew aboard the cruise ship were being monitored.

Following the death, Israeli Interior Minister Aryeh Deri announced a travel ban on “anyone who has been in Egypt during the past two weeks and is not a citizen or resident of Israel”.

Latest coronavirus updates
Egyptian health ministry emergency responders stand next to an ambulances ready on the scene to transport suspected COVID-19 coronavirus disease cases that were detected on a Nile cruise ship, in the southern city of Luxor late on 7 March 2020. Egypt’s health ministry said the 45 detected cases would be quarantined even though 11 of them had tested negative in follow-up tests. The A Sara docked in Luxor days after authorities were alerted that a foreign tourist who had previously disembarked, had contracted the virus and infected others onboard. Photo: AFP

Source: The South African Read More

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