CORONAVIRUS DAILY DIGEST #109
South Africans return from Wuhan, Makhanda project helps learners study online, and medical scientists give their advice on navigating the pandemic
On Tuesday, a group of South Africans returned home after six months of trying. Meanwhile, a project in Makhanda is coming into its own as it helps to get online learning resources to the schoolchildren who need it. And a group of medical scientists publish their first in a series on advice to the public during the Covid-19 pandemic.
Scroll through the gallery below to view the latest Covid-19 numbers available on 28 July at the district level. All maps are sourced from provincial health departments; however, Gauteng, Free State and Limpopo did not provide an update by the time of publishing:
On Tuesday morning, a group of South Africans landed at OR Tambo International airport after being stuck in China for nearly six months. They had made numerous attempts to fly home and eventually persuaded private company Maple Aviation to run a repatriation flight to fetch them. Peter Fabricius spoke to some in the group about their struggle to get home.
The first in a series of Expert Advisories was published by Maverick Citizen on Tuesday. Under the banner of The Scientists Collective, a group of the country’s leading medical scientists and academics will be co-writing a series of articles offering “practical life-saving advice based on the newest emerging knowledge and evidence of Covid-19”. It includes some members of the Ministerial Advisory Committee, although it is not written for or on behalf of the committee. This week they provide guidance on isolation and quarantine. Find the first instalment here.
Three journalism students from Rhodes University report on the Vulindlela project which works to get a micro SD card packed with free digital learning resources to schoolchildren in the area during lockdown. The cost is less than R100 per child and the cards can be slotted into a smartphone the family already owns. It includes study guides, videos, past exam questions and casual reading material tailored to the learner’s curriculum. Read their report here.
In the wake of the #JobsSaveLives protest, chef Kobus van der Merwe from the internationally renowned Wolfgat restaurant has sent a letter to President Cyril Ramaphosa pleading to help the restaurant and wine industries by lifting the ban on alcohol and relaxing the curfew. He agreed to have Daily Maverick publish his letter, which can be read here.
Similarly, the arthouse Labia cinema in Cape Town has also borne the brunt of lockdown restrictions and has had to reinvent itself once again to survive. Now, its films are available to stream online. Don Pinnock steps behind the scenes.
President Cyril Ramaphosa’s spokesperson Khusela Diko has taken leave until a probe into Covid-19 contracts is concluded. Her husband, amaBhaca king Thandisiwe Diko, had applied for and received the okay to supply medical equipment worth more than R47.5-million from the Gauteng government. This was then apparently cancelled before it was paid for and delivered, apparently because Diko’s husband decided it was better not to, considering her role in the Presidency. Now, this contract, along with 90 other Gauteng government tenders, is being investigated by the Special Investigating Unit. Ferial Haffajee unpacks the implications for the ANC in the province, as well as Gauteng Health MEC Dr Bandile Masuku.
Parliament’s finance committee has reportedly requested that Finance Minister Tito Mboweni and Treasury officials explain the state of procurement of personal protective equipment as early as next week. This follows the allegations of corruption in the processes.
The International Monetary Fund has approved $4.3-billion in emergency funding for South Africa. This is the largest amount it has approved for any country to assist with responding to the Covid-19 pandemic. South Africa has secured loans with the New Development Bank and the African Development Bank and plans to still approach the World Bank. Ed Stoddard unpacks possible long-term implications to taking this loan.
Meanwhile, the National Liquor Traders Council has vowed to raise R100-million to support more than 34,000 tavern owners. It says taverns have received no support from the government.
The Western Cape “Budget to Beat Covid-19” was debated in the provincial legislature and focused on cutting costs of potential projects and expenses such as travel. However, oversight committees questioned how these cuts would impact service delivery and wanted specifics on where and why money would be cut. In addition, discussions extended to the civil unrest in Cape Town over the past two weeks. Suné Payne reports from the legislature.
The University of Cape Town has decided to finish the 2020 academic year through remote learning online. However, some select groups of postgraduate research students would be allowed to return if they need on-campus facilities to finish their research.
Bongekile Booi has conquered drug-resistant TB and is not about to let Covid-19 get to her. The 20-year-old budding filmmaker and writer shares her experience of the Covid-19 pandemic from her home in Khayelitsha.
Cape Town rugby legend Broadhurst Cona shares his experience of having Covid-19 three months ago – he says he fought it “just like I fought opposing defenders on the rugby field”. Siyabonga Kamnqa sat down with him to hear about it and reflect on his illustrious rugby career. DM/MC
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