South Africa

Regional News • Africa
Mauritius in National Lockdown
Mauritius in National Lockdown
Credit: unsplash.com / Guillaume Baudusseau

The Prime Minister of Mauritius, Mr. Pravind Kumar Jugnauth, has announced, this evening, during a televised address to the nation, that a lockdown will be implemented from 10 March 2021 at six am till 25 March 2021, following an increase in Covid-19 cases.

He indicated that the virus is now to be found in several clusters adding that new positive cases have been detected today which are not from the initial cluster.

As part of the restrictions, all activities will remain closed except for the police, port, airport, fire services, health, pharmacy, and security services.

Essential services that will operate on 10 March 2021 are health services, fire services, security services, petrol facilities, security services, pharmacy services, and retail distribution chains.

Supermarkets, superettes, shops, bakeries, and petrol stations will remain closed tomorrow but will reopen on 11 March 2021 with strict sanitary measures. Access to these services will be in alphabetical order.

The Prime Minister confirmed that a local case of COVID-19 has been detected in Mauritius and it is a person working in a company dealing with products from South Africa. To this end, he stressed that additional precautions have been taken to avoid the risk of contamination in the country.

Regional News • Americas • United States
Johnson & Johnson's single-dose Covid-19 vaccine provides protection against severe infections
Johnson & Johnson's single-dose Covid-19 vaccine provides protection against severe infections

The United States Food and Drug Administration could grant emergency use authorization to Johnson & Johnson's single-dose Covid-19 vaccine as early as Saturday, bringing a third vaccine manufacturer to the United States. J&J submitted Covid vaccine data shows a 66% effectiveness overall (72% in the United States and 64% in South Africa) and prevents 100% of hospitalizations and deaths.

Business • Health Care
New Covid-19 mutation in California worries researchers
New Covid-19 mutation in California worries researchers
Credit: Ashley Winkler for Pendect

A corona mutation is circulating in California and other U.S. states that could be more contagious and dangerous. The data situation is still unclear, but some things seem worrying.

Now another mutation has emerged in California, it has already spread to other U.S. states and has also been detected in countries such as Australia, Denmark and Mexico. It was first discovered in December, reports the journal Science. Investigations suggest that this variant of Sars-CoV-2 could not only be more contagious but probably also takes more violent courses. According to this, intensive medical care and deaths occur more frequently - however, the data situation here is still very thin.

The researchers call the variants B.1.427 and B.1.429 - it occurs with slightly different mutations. Under a different naming scheme, it is also known as 20C/L452R.

B.1.427 / B.1.429 carries several mutations, but three seem to be particularly relevant. They affect the spike protein that the virus uses to dock with human cells. Mutation L452R, in particular, appears to increase infectivity. It apparently stabilizes the interaction between the spike protein and the receptor used by the virus. None of the three spike mutations are found in the virus variants from Great Britain, South Africa and Brazil.

Regional News • Europe • Germany
Germany to impose travel ban from parts of Czech Republic and Austria
Germany to impose travel ban from parts of Czech Republic and Austria
Credit: JoachimKohler-HB, via Wikimedia Commons (Creative Commons Attribution ShareAlike 3.0 IGO)

Interior Minister Horst Seehofer has announced that Germany will impose a travel ban from Austria's province Tyrol and "border regions of the Czech Republic" in an effort to curb the spread of more potent Covid-19 mutations. Tyrol has seen an increase in new infections of the 501.V2 variant that was first detected in South Africa.

“The states of Bavaria and Saxony today asked the government to class Tyrol and the border regions of the Czech Republic as virus mutation areas, and to implement border controls,” so Seehofer. “That has been agreed with the (German) chancellor and the vice-chancellor.”

Regional News • World
AstraZeneca's vaccine has limited efficacy against South Africa variant – research
COVID-19 vaccine AstraZeneca Jan 2021 (UK)
COVID-19 vaccine AstraZeneca Jan 2021 (UK) Credit: Whispyhistory, via Wikimedia Commons (Creative Commons Attribution ShareAlike 4.0)

AstraZeneca's Covid-19 vaccine offers limited protection against mild infection of the South African variant (B.1.351). This is according to initial results of a study conducted by South Africa's University of Witwatersrand and Oxford University, with which AstraZeneca co-developed the vaccine. Oxford University and AstraZeneca are reportedly adapting the vaccine for the mutation and predict it will be ready by autumn.

Health
Novavax Covid-19 vaccine shows 85.6% efficacy
Novavax Covid-19 vaccine shows 85.6% efficacy
Credit: Illustration by Ashley Winkler for Pendect (Creative Commons Attribution ShareAlike 4.0)

A trial conducted in the United Kingdom showed that Novavax's Covid-19 vaccine was 95.6% effective against the original Covid-19 strain and 85.6% effective against the new mutation B.1.1.7 that first was discovered in the UK. The vaccine however only showed a 60% efficacy against the mutation first identified in South Africa.

The company's vaccine, known as NVX-CoV2373, "is the first vaccine to demonstrate not only high clinical efficacy against COVID-19 but also significant clinical efficacy against both the rapidly emerging UK and South Africa variants," Stanley Erck, Novavax president and CEO, said in an announcement. "NVX-CoV2373 has the potential to play an important role in solving this global public health crisis," he said.

Regional News • Europe • Germany
Germany to ban entry for travellers from the UK, Portugal, Brazil and South Africa to curb spread of Covid mutations
Munich International Airport, passport controls, Jan 2017
Munich International Airport, passport controls, Jan 2017 Credit: Vasyatka1, via Wikimedia Commons (Creative Commons Attribution ShareAlike 4.0)

Germany is set to impose an entry ban for travellers from Portugal, Brazil, South Africa and the United Kingdom in an effort to curb the spread of more potent Covid-19 variants.

German Interior Minister Horst Seehofer (CSU) said before a video meeting with his European counterparts that coordination with the EU had been unsuccessful because some member states remained too lax. "We cannot count on a European solution. That is why we are now preparing this nationally," Seehofer said.

Health
Research: Possible cure for malaria transmission discovered

Researchers at the University of Pretoria in South Africa report that they have found substances that could prevent tmalaria ransmission. They write in the journal Nature Communications that two substances that have been studied for their effectiveness against tuberculosis and cancer can kill malaria parasites - even when it is infectious. For the past year, the WHO fears even more victims because many prevention measures could not be implemented due to the Corona pandemic.

Regional News • Africa
South Africa: 1 million Coronavirus cases
South Africa: 1 million Coronavirus cases
Credit: NIAID, via Wikimedia Commons (Creative Commons Attribution 2.0)

South Africa has surpassed 1 million cases of the Coronavirus. The new and more contagious strain 501.V2 is spreading more dominantly in many areas of the resurgence, experts say.

“We are not helpless in the face of this variant,” infectious disease specialist, Dr Richard Lessells told Associated Press. “We can change our behaviour to give the virus less opportunities to spread.”

Regional News • World
Both UK and South Africa Covid-19 variants found in Finland

Finland has confirmed that one person tested positive for the new UK Covid-19 strain and two people tested positive for the South African variant. At least a dozen countries have confirmed cases of both new variants.

Regional News • World
Newly discovered South African Covid-19 strain may be "more effective at spreading"
Newly discovered South African Covid-19 strain may be "more effective at spreading"
Credit: Illustration by Ashley Winkler for Pendect (Creative Commons Attribution ShareAlike 4.0)

The newly discovered South African variant of Covid-19 seems to be "more effective at spreading" and might be slightly more resistant to vaccines, South African scientists believe.

"Putting our data together with that in the UK, this [South African] variant is a bit more effective at spreading from person to person and that is not good. It means we have to get a bit better at stopping it," so Dr. Richard Lessells who is one of the specialists leading the research into the new mutation. "Ours raises a few more concerns for a vaccine [than the UK variant] … Another worry is reinfection. We are currently doing the careful, methodical work in the laboratory to answer all the questions we have and that takes time."

Regional News • Africa
South Africa: New Coronavirus strain, unrelated to UK strain

Another new variant of the coronavirus was discovered in South Africa that is unrelated to the one found in the UK. The new strain, known as 501.V2, is causing a rise in new infections in the country.

Professor Salim Abdool Karim, chairman of the government’s Ministerial Advisory Committee: “It is still very early but at this stage, the preliminary data suggests the virus that is now dominating in the second wave is spreading faster than the first wave.”

Lifestyle • Religion
Religious leaders call for end of gay conversion therapy
Religious leaders call for end of gay conversion therapy
Credit: Jmquez, via Wikimedia Commons (Creative Commons Attribution ShareAlike 3.0)

Over 370 religious leaders from around the world are calling for an end to the criminalisation of LGBT+ people and a ban on gay conversion therapy, the pseudoscientific practise of trying to change an individual's sexual orientation. The leaders stated that "certain religious teachings have often, throughout the ages, caused and continue to cause deep pain and offence" to LGBTQ+ people and further have "created, and continue to create, oppressive systems that fuel intolerance, perpetuate injustice and result in violence."

Among those who signed are eight archbishops, including South African Archbishop Desmond Tutu; over 60 rabbis, including former Chief Rabbi of Ireland David Rosen; the Catholic former president of Ireland Mary McAleese and various senior Muslims, Sikhs, Buddhists and Hindus.

Sports
MotoGP: Shock Brno win for rookie Binder on the KTM
MotoGP: Shock Brno win for rookie Binder on the KTM
Credit: Box Repsol (Creative Commons Attribution 2.0)

South African Brad Binder got his first win in only his third MotoGP race in Brno on Sunday. This was also a first win for KTM in the class. Binder started from seventh on the grid and made his way to the top to claim a famous rookie victory in a race full of surprises. Franco Morbidelli finished second, while polesitter Johan Zarco managed to stay on the podium despite a long lap penalty after a collision with Pol Espargaro. Pre-race favorites Fabio Quartararo and Maverick Viñales could only manage seventh and fourteenth on the day.

Regional News • Africa
South Africa: Over half a million confirmed Coronavirus cases
Ambulance responding to Covid-19 cases in Durban, KwaZulu Natal, South Africa.
Ambulance responding to Covid-19 cases in Durban, KwaZulu Natal, South Africa. Credit: Khethukuthula Mbonambi / Wikimedia Commons (Creative Commons Attribution ShareAlike 4.0)

On Saturday, 10107 new Coronavirus cases were reported in South Africa. This brings the total of Coronavirus cases of the country to over half a million, confirmed by health minister Zwelini Mkhize.

28000 additional hospital beds were made available but the country does not have enough doctors and medical staff.

Regional News • Africa
South Africa: Schools to close again over Coronavirus surge
School children from KwaMangqakaza Primary School receiving school uniforms that were donated by a good Samaritan. South African schools are expected to begin a phased re-opening from the 1st of June 2020.
School children from KwaMangqakaza Primary School receiving school uniforms that were donated by a good Samaritan. South African schools are expected to begin a phased re-opening from the 1st of June 2020. Credit: Khethukuthula Mbonambi / Wikimedia Commons (Creative Commons Attribution ShareAlike 4.0)

Most of South African public schools will close again for a month. The schools year will be extended into 2021, affecting over 14 million pupils. The country has reported over 400,000 cases in total and has seen rising Coronavirus infections.

President Ramaphose said on Thursday: "We have taken a deliberately cautious approach to keep schools closed during a period when the country is expected to experience its greatest increase in infections. I am aware that this arrangement that I’ve just announced will disappoint many learners who want to be back at school and may cause inconvenience and difficulty for many families who need to make alternative child care arrangements. We ask you to do this because we believe it is important to ensure that schools do not become sites of transmission at a time when infections are rising fast."

Arts, Entertainment, Culture • Celebrities & Public Figures
Andrew Mlangeni, anti-apartheid icon and convicted co-defendant with Nelson Mandela, passed away at age 95
Andrew Mlangeni
Andrew Mlangeni Credit: GovernmentZA (Creative Commons Attribution 2.0)

Andrew Mlangeni passed away on June 6th in Pretoria, the office of President Cyril Ramaphosa confirmed on Wednesday. Mlangeni was the last surviving Rivonia trialists, a trial which brought to light the segregationist policies of apartheid in South Africa. He died in a military hospital after being committed with abdominal complaints.

President Cyril Ramaphosa said: "The passing of Andrew Mekete Mlangeni signifies the end of a generational history and places our future squarely in our hands. Until recently, we were able to sit at Bab’ Mlangeni’s feet and draw on his wealth of wisdom and his unfailing commitment – even at his very advanced age – to a better life for all South Africans. With his passing as the last remaining Rivonia Trialist, Bab’ Mlangeni has indeed passed the baton to his compatriots to build the South Africa he fought to liberate and to reconstruct during our democratic dispensation."

Regional News • Africa
South Africa: Alcohol ban and curfew imposed to suppress spread of Coronavirus
South Africa: Alcohol ban and curfew imposed to suppress spread of Coronavirus
Credit: unsplash.com/SJ Objio

South Africa sees a rapid spread of the Coronavirus. The country is accounting for roughly 40% of all African cases. South African President Cyril Ramaphosa begged the citizen to follow the rules and reduce personal contact. He reintroduced a ban on all alcohol sales and imposed a nationwide curfew in hopes to suppress the spread of the virus.

Ramaphosa said: "This is in our collective hands. Let us remember that every individual action that we undertake does and can make a big difference. Now more than ever we are responsible for the lives of those around us."

Hospitals also have started to turn people away. Ramaphosa wants to avoid a second lockdown as it would cause more harm than good on the economy.

Arts, Entertainment, Culture • Celebrities & Public Figures
Zindzi Mandela, daugther of Nelson Mandela, dies aged 59
Zindzi Mandela meeting President Barack Obama, 2 November 2013
Zindzi Mandela meeting President Barack Obama, 2 November 2013 Credit: The White House from Washington, DC / Public domain

Zindzi Mandela, the youngest daughter of Nelson Mandela, has died at the age of 59 in a hospital in Johannesburg, South Africa. The cause of her death has not been revealed yet.

Zindzi Mandela had been serving as South Africa's ambassador to Denmark since 2014. She was married twice and had four children.

Regional News • Africa
South Africa: almost 13,497 Coronavirus cases, medical oxygen low
Ambulance responding to Covid-19 suspected cases and place them in isolation hospitals and quarantine in Durban, KwaZulu Natal, South Africa
Ambulance responding to Covid-19 suspected cases and place them in isolation hospitals and quarantine in Durban, KwaZulu Natal, South Africa Credit: Khethukuthula Mbonambi / Wikimedia Commons

South Africa is reporting 13497 new Coronavirus cases. Hotspots are in Johannesburg and Pretoria, both located in the Gauteng province, with over 1/3 of the daily cases.

Medical oxygen is now running low in hospitals in Gauteng. Health Minister Zweli Mkhize said that they were working to divert more oxygen to these hospitals. Beds are filling so fast that patients are now also placed in heated tents in the hospital's parking lot.

Mkhize: "The storm that we have consistently warned South Africans about is now arriving."