CORONAVIRUS WEEKLY DIGEST #26
SA stays on Level 1 for Easter, Phase 2 takes shape and mismanaged millions for creatives to be probed
This week, little changed in the way of restrictions for the Easter holiday. Meanwhile, more was revealed about the timeline and scale of Phase 2 of the Covid-19 vaccine roll-out. And a forensic investigation into the mismanagement of millions meant to help the creative industry will start soon.
South Africa remains on lockdown Level 1 for Easter – with some changes
There is “relatively low” Covid-19 transmission in South Africa currently, therefore the country will remain on Level 1 over the Easter period, President Cyril Ramaphosa announced on Tuesday, 30 March. He acknowledged that this period is risky because of an increase in travel, increased use of public transport and gatherings. Nonetheless, only two changes were made. Alcohol sales for off-site consumption were prohibited for the four-day long weekend. The maximum number of people who can attend a gathering was raised to 250 indoors and 500 outdoors. Read more here.
Millions more to be vaccinated between May and October, says Mkhize
About 13 million people will be vaccinated during Phase 2 of the vaccine roll-out between May and October 2021, Health Minister Zweli Mkhize told Parliament this week. Phase 3 is scheduled between November 2021 and February 2022. As Marianne Merten writes, the initial deadline to vaccinate 67% of adults was December 2021. There will be more than 2,000 vaccination sites, including pharmacies, GP rooms and workplace health programmes.
Eastern Cape’s Aspen Pharmacare is ready to produce vaccines
Over the next few months Aspen Pharmacare in Gqeberha will produce millions of doses of the Johnson & Johnson Covid-19 vaccine. As Estelle Ellis explains, the manufacturing facility is able to combine the ingredients and fill, seal and package the vials. Most of the vaccines it produces will be supplied to South Africa and African Union member states. Find out more about the process here.
Regulator issues warning about ivermectin cream
On 16 March, the South African Health Products Regulatory Authority approved a topical cream that contains ivermectin meant to treat a skin condition. This week, it clarified that this approval does not translate into an approval for the use of ivermectin to treat Covid-19. However, it will allow for small quantities to be made for a specific patient and for off-label use. Read more here.
Pockets of Covid on campuses could hasten third wave
More than 3,000 people are being traced and screened at the University of Pretoria after 55 students tested positive for Covid-19. The university is one of the few campuses that has allowed some students back into face-to-face classes. As Ayanda Mthethwa writes, authorities have said there is no need for panic but action is needed to ensure the numbers don’t accelerate.
Mismanagement of arts stimulus package probed
The R300-million stimulus package meant to assist creatives during the Covid-19 crisis will be the subject of a forensic investigation, according to Minister of Sports, Arts and Culture Nathi Mthethwa. This followed weeks of protests by the creative industry demanding answers about the mismanagement of the millions. Mthethwa said the National Arts Council, which was meant to disburse the money, had mismanaged it by paying out much more to any one person than it was supposed to. As Karabo Mafolo writes, only 505 beneficiaries had been paid by the end of last week. Meanwhile, the South Gauteng High Court has ordered the council to pay the National Arts Festival R3.4-million within 72 hours. DM/MC
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