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Ramaphosa warns of 'vaccine apartheid' if rich countries hog shots

President Cyril Ramaphosa said on Monday that if wealthy nations hogged covid-19 shots while millions in poor countries died waiting for them it would amount to "vaccine apartheid".

may 10 2021 6:29pm
mixed News : Mixed
India's covid-19 cases dip from peak, calls for shutdown mount

Calls grew for India to impose a nationwide lockdown as new coronavirus cases and deaths held close to record highs on Monday, increasing pressure on the government of Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

may 10 2021 6:29pm
mixed News : Mixed
Work underway to improve Post Office revenue

With the covid-19 pandemic and subsequent economic downturn affecting the South African Post Office (SAPO) revenue, the entity has implemented long-term initiatives to diversify its income. These have started to show results, and the Post Office has also identified quick solutions that will improve its income in the short-term, the Ministry of Communications and Digital Technologies said on Monday. The Ministry, as the shareholder said it continues to work closely with the Post Office to strengthen the executive management of the entity. Nomkhita Mona was recently appointed as the new Chief Executive Officer of the SAPO for a five-year term. The position had been vacant since 2019. The South African Post Office is a key stakeholder in delivering on governments developmental objectives of improving access to basic services in previously underserviced communities. Its network is currently the largest point of presence nationally and is able to connect government, businesses and citizens anywhere in South Africa, Minister of Communications and Digital Technologies Stella Ndabeni-Abrahams said. The Minister has welcomed the reopening of most of the SAPO branches across all provinces that were temporarily closed following extensive negotiations with landlords. Twenty-seven branches have been reopened in all nine provinces. Negotiations continue with landlords of the remaining few Post Offices that are closed; they will re-open as soon as agreement is reached with property owners. This is expected to be within the next few weeks, the Ministry said.

may 10 2021 6:29pm
SA records 1 778 new covid-19 cases

South Africa has recorded 1 778 new covid-19 cases with the cumulative number of cases identified standing at 1 596 595. In a statement released on Sunday, Minister of Health, Dr Zweli Mkhize, said the number of tests conducted to date is 10 887 709. Of these, 26 098 tests were conducted since the last report. Eleven covid-19 related deaths have been reported: Eastern Cape 1, Free State 1, Gauteng 8, KwaZulu-Natal 1, which brings the total to 54 735 deaths. We convey our condolences to the loved ones of the departed and thank the health care workers who treated the deceased patients, Mkhize said. The cumulative recoveries now stand at 1 516 256, representing a recovery rate of 95%. The number of Health Care Workers Vaccinated under the Sisonke Protocol to date remains at 382 480.

may 10 2021 6:29pm
Vaccines a global public good, says President Ramaphosa

If the international community is truly committed to human rights and the values of equality and non-discrimination, vaccines should be viewed as a global public good, says President Cyril Ramaphosa. The President made the remarks in this weeks newsletter in which he argued that the World Trade Organisation (WTO) should consider South Africa and Indias proposal for a temporary waiver of certain aspects of Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS). This, he said, would facilitate wider access to technologies needed to produce vaccines and medicines. The idea is to rapidly scale up local production to ensure wider access to affordable and effective vaccines, wrote the President. The waiver proposal currently enjoys the support of more than 100 countries. Last week, the US government announced its support for the proposal, which will give the current negotiations added momentum. Public good against private profit Previously, the President highlights in the letter, South Africa scored a victory in a lawsuit that pitted public good against private profit in the height of the HIV/Aids pandemic. Then, the country sought to enforce a law allowing South Africa to import and manufacture affordable generic antiretroviral medication to treat people with HIV and save lives. In response, representatives of the pharmaceutical industry sued the government, arguing that such a move violated theTRIPS. This is acomprehensive multilateral agreement on intellectual property. The case, dubbed Big Pharma vs Mandela, drew widespread international attention.The lawsuit was dropped in 2001 after massive opposition by government and civil society. He said the enforcement of intellectual property rights is critical to research and development and innovation in the quest for human progress. But our position as South Africa is that such a waiver is necessary at this time. It is temporary and is in direct response to an emergency. This is an unprecedented situation. It requires that allintellectual property, knowledge, technology and data related to covid-19 health technologies be put at the disposal of all, President Ramaphosa said. They should be made available to all, not just to the highest bidders, he said. A situation in which the populations of advanced, rich countries are safely inoculated while millions in poorer countries die in the queue would be tantamount to vaccine apartheid. It will set a devastating precedent in our quest to realise a more egalitarian world and our ability to handle future pandemics. Social responsibility for health is a recognised principle in the Universal Declaration of Bioethics and Human Rights adopted by the international community in 2005. It affirms that progress in science and technology must contribute to justice, equity and the interests of broader humanity. It notes that the benefits of scientific research should be shared with society as a whole and within the international community, in particular with developing countries that face resource constraints, said President Ramaphosa. Vaccine equity Earlier this year, the UNs education, science and culture body UNESCO called for vaccine equity, noting that it was not just the right thing to do, but also the best way to control the pandemic, restore confidence and to reboot the global economy. Currently, 55% of the existing vaccine manufacturing capacity is located in East Asia, 40% in Europe and North America, and less than 5% in Africa and South America. In the case of developing countries, much of this capacity is under-utilised, he said. South Africa is one of only five countries on the continent with vaccine production capacity. Added the President: Although we have secured enough vaccine doses to reach population immunity, there will continue to be a need for vaccines. We are therefore preparing to bolster global vaccine manufacturing for covid-19 and other major diseases. Existing facilities need to be repurposed and new capacity built. In the letter, President Ramaphosa called on all South Africans to support this effort, and in particular civil society organisations that played a leading role during the HIV/Aids pandemic. Civil society has a critical role in mobilising international support for this cause, particularly through international cooperation with like-minded organisations in developed countries. This is an issue that calls for greater public advocacy and awareness-raising. As a nation, we must stand united in our effort to manufacture covid-19 vaccines to save lives and proceed with the national recovery, he said. South Africas commitment to putting human lives first does not diminish its commitment to honour international trade agreements, he said, adding that the proposal was about the promotion of h

may 10 2021 6:29pm
New covid-19 variants detected in SA

The National Institute for Communicable Diseases (NICD) has confirmed that four of the specimens it had, have tested positive for the covid-19 B.1.617.2variant. In a statement, the NICD said it had sequenced the covid-19 specimens from individuals who had travelled to India. The institute can confirm that four of the specimens tested positive for B.1.617.2 (two cases from Gauteng and two from KwaZulu-Natal). The B.1.617.2 variant is currently highlighted as a variant of interest by the World Health Organization and is one of multiple variants circulating in India, it said in a statement on Saturday. It added that all cases have been isolated and managed according to covid-19 case management guidelines. Contact tracing has also been performed in order to limit the spread of this variant. Another variant that is currently dominating covid-19 infections in Europe and North America, B.1.1.7 has also been detected in South Africa. Eleven cases of B.1.1.7 have been confirmed, with eight cases in the Western Cape, two cases in Gauteng and one case in KwaZulu-Natal. It is not surprising that new variants have been detected in South Africa, said NICD Acting Executive Director, Professor Adrian Puren. Head of the Division of Public Health Surveillance and Response at the NICD, Dr Michelle Groome, assured the public that the institute is focusing its resources and research efforts towards understanding the variants and what the potential implications are for South Africa. Groome added that provincial health authorities remain on high alert and are prioritising the sequencing of covid-19 positive samples from travellers entering the country, from India specifically and their close contacts. The institute said minimising the spread of the disease and possibly curtailing a resurgence through compliance with non-pharmaceutical interventions could not be emphasised enough. We understand that many are suffering from covid-19 fatigue, and becoming lax in exercising preventative measures. But for the sake of yourselves and your loved ones, wash or sanitise your hands, wear your masks and maintain physical distance of 1.5 m from others. Remember to hold gatherings outdoors, or in well ventilated areas and roll up your sleeve once the covid-19 vaccine becomes available to you, said Puren.

may 10 2021 6:29pm
Post office reopens temporarily closed branches

The South African Post Office (SAPO) has announced the reopening of most branches that were temporarily closed following extensive negotiations with landlords. The branches will re-open on Monday and will be trading normally. Customers are therefore welcome to visit these post offices for collecting parcels, paying car licences or doing other postal transactions, SAPO said in a statement. Vehicle owners who want to renew their car license have to bring an identity document and a completed renewal form, which can be downloaded from the Post Office website:https://www.postoffice.co.za/. The form is under the domestic productsbutton. Post Offices are important access points for government services such as social grants. To eliminate long waiting times, the Post Office has introduced separate queues for different transactions.This also serves to eliminate crowding and ensures that covid-19 regulations are adhered to, SAPO said. The Post Office offers the most cost-effective delivery service for small international parcels and therefore plans to play a growing role in delivering e-commerce parcels. Its network of outlets is one of the reasons it is able to offer a unique service, and the organisation intends to maintain its extensive network, SAPO said. The following branches will re-open: Gauteng: Aston Manor; Belle Ombre, Pretoria; Fontainebleu; Hillbrow; Kelvin; Khumalo; Leondale; Moroke; Northmead and Three Rivers. Eastern Cape: Greenfields; Motherwell; Northcrest and Schauderville. Western Cape: Edgemead; Kleinmond; Mbekweni and Melkbosstrand. KwaZulu-Natal: Esikhaleni; Gillits; Impendle; and Overport. Limpopo: Enkelbult; Letsitele and Tonga. Mpumalanga: West Acres, Mbombela. Northern Cape: Hopetown. The Post Office said negotiations will continue with landlords of the remaining few branches that are closed. They will re-open as soon as agreement is reached with property owners. This is expected to be within the next few weeks, SAPO said.

may 10 2021 6:29pm
Cyril Ramaphosa warns of 'vaccine apartheid' if rich countries hog shots

President Cyril Ramaphosa said on Monday that if wealthy nations hogged covid-19 shots while millions in poor countries died waiting for them, it would amount to "vaccine apartheid".

may 10 2021 6:29pm
politics News : Mixed
Cyril Ramaphosa warns of 'vaccine apartheid' if rich countries hog shots

President Cyril Ramaphosa said on Monday that if wealthy nations hogged covid-19 shots while millions in poor countries died waiting for them, it would amount to "vaccine apartheid".

may 10 2021 6:29pm
politics News : Mixed
Remaining IPL games can't be played in ...

The popular Twenty20 league was suspended indefinitely last week after several personnel tested positive for Coivd-19. India reported 366,161 new covid-19 infections on Monday, taking the caseload to 22.66 million.

may 10 2021 6:29pm
sports News : Mixed