Covid-19

CORONAVIRUS DAILY DIGEST #132

Power ships’ pandemic ‘emergency permit’ scrapped, reinfection is possible, and public protector says Covid-19 corruption is not a crime against humanity

Power ships’ pandemic ‘emergency permit’ scrapped, reinfection is possible, and public protector says Covid-19 corruption is not a crime against humanity

On Tuesday, a Covid-19 ‘emergency permit’ given for a Turkish floating power ship was scrapped. Meanwhile, the chairperson of South Africa’s Covid-19 ministerial advisory committee, Professor Salim Abdool Karim, confirmed that Covid-19 reinfection is possible but that there has been no confirmed case of this in South Africa. Public Protector Busisiwe Mkhwebane has argued that corruption in South Africa is not a crime against humanity, including that occurring during the Covid-19 pandemic.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Scroll through the gallery below to view the latest Covid-19 numbers available on 25 August at the district level. All maps are sourced from provincial health departments. Limpopo and Mpumalanga did not provide an update by the time of publishing:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

There is now clear evidence that Covid-19 reinfection can occur within months, said the chairperson of South Africa’s Covid-19 ministerial advisory committee, Professor Salim Abdool Karim. Addressing doctors on Monday night, he said that no reinfections had been confirmed in South Africa. This comes after reports that a Hong Kong resident contracted a second viral strain 4½ months after first being diagnosed with the virus.

As Ferial Haffajee writes, he told doctors that multiple data sets are showing that the pandemic’s curve is flattening in SA. The recovery rate is now over 80%, there are 90,000 active cases and the national health laboratories system does not have a backlog because there has been a decrease in demand for Covid-19 tests. 

 

The test positivity rate for Covid-19 was at 16.3% in South Africa as of 25 August. The World Health Organisation considers a number below 10% as a sign of an epidemic in decline. (Chart: Dr Ridwaan Suliman).

However, he warned that the worst is not entirely behind us. A second wave of infections is possible if people do not maintain masking, physical distancing and limited gatherings. He said the aim is to keep the epidemic at a “simmer” – present, but at low and manageable numbers. Health Minister Zweli Mkhize echoed this sentiment and said that South Africa now faces the challenge of riding the momentum to keep the curve flat.

Corruption in SA, including that around PPE procurement, is not a crime against humanity, argued Public Protector Busisiwe Mkhwebane on Monday. She argued that it fails to meet the criteria in the Rome Statute for such a crime. She said corruption is not a policy of the state and that the government acknowledges that corruption undermines good governance. 

However, if it was proved that the government was deliberately underfunding government bodies in order to “sabotage” their attempts to investigate and prosecute corruption then it would be different, she said. As Rebecca Davis writes, this topic has been discussed by the World Health Organisation, Scopa and in a Daily Maverick editorial. She unpacks the rest of Mkhwebane’s argument here.

Two weeks ago, Daily Maverick exposed the apparent abuse of an emergency procedure in South Africa’s environmental laws under the banner of the Covid-19 crisis. An “emergency” exemption permit was issued to a Turkish power company to supply electricity from floating power ships. Now, this permit has been revoked. Tony Carnie reports.

South Africa may be moving out of lockdown slowly but surely, but the climate crisis has had free reign this entire time. As Mark Heywood argues in the latest Maverick Citizen editorial, there is much to be done, but recent efforts by civil society have not gone to waste. This week, the People’s Climate Justice Charter will be launched to pave the way to changing our mutually destructive behaviours. Moreover, the Covid-19 crisis has shown that declaring a climate disaster might create real engagement and change. Read the editorial here.

The South African Health Products Regulatory Authority has reportedly approved antibody tests for use in South Africa. To get clued up about what these tests can and can’t tell you, read the third instalment of  The Scientists Collective’s series of expert advisories: Testing for Covid-19? All you need to know about antibody tests. DM/MC

 

Gallery

"Information pertaining to Covid-19, vaccines, how to control the spread of the virus and potential treatments is ever-changing. Under the South African Disaster Management Act Regulation 11(5)(c) it is prohibited to publish information through any medium with the intention to deceive people on government measures to address COVID-19. We are therefore disabling the comment section on this article in order to protect both the commenting member and ourselves from potential liability. Should you have additional information that you think we should know, please email [email protected]"

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