South Africa moves to lockdown Level 1 as Covid cases decline

By CGTN Africa

President of South Africa Matamela Cyril Ramaphosa. (Photo by Thierry Monasse/Getty Images)

South African President Cyril Ramaphosa on Sunday announced that the country was adjusting its COVID-19 situation from Level 3 to Level 1 as from midnight.

Ramaphosa said that the cabinet had decided earlier today to downgrade the national alert level due to a decline in coronavirus infections.

“Due to the decline in infections, the country can now ease some of the restrictions on movement and activity, but do so cautiously,” Ramaphosa said in his state of the nation address.

Some of the regulations under the Level 1 alert include the ban of night vigils or other gatherings before or after funerals, nightclubs to remain closed, curfew hours to run from 12 midnight to 4 am, permit to the selling of alcohol, gatherings limited to 100 indoors and 250 outdoors and that 33 land borders to remain closed while 20 will remain open.

Ramaphosa also added that only five airports will be open for international flights and that wearing of masks in public by all persons is mandatory.

The president said that persons who do not wear a mask will be committing an offence.

“The return to Alert Level 1 means that most of the remaining restrictions on economic activity have been removed. We expect this to lead to higher consumer spending, bolstered by the steady recovery in employment,” said Ramaphosa.

The president stated that the new variant – known as 501Y.v2 – is now the dominant variant in the country.New infections, admissions to hospital and deaths have fallen significantly and continue to decline steadily, Ramaphosa said.In the week that has just passed, the country recorded just under 10,000 new infections, according to the president.

He encouraged citizens not to let their guard down with the new restrictions to maintain low levels of infections and, in particular, to prevent super-spreading events.

The South Africa Health Department has reported 1,447 new cases of coronavirus, taking the number of total infections to 1,512,225.

There have been a further 157 COVID-19-related deaths in the country, bringing the national death toll to 49,941 deaths.

Three new Ebola cases confirmed in Congo

By Reuters

Three new cases of Ebola have been confirmed in eastern Democratic Republic of Congo, bringing to 11 the number of cases since authorities declared a resurgence of the virus last month.

FILE – In this Tuesday, July 16, 2019 file photo, health workers dressed in protective gear begin their shift at an Ebola treatment center in Beni, Congo DRC. The World Health Organization said Friday Nov. 22, 2019, there has been “a very dangerous and alarming development” in efforts to end the Ebola outbreak in eastern Congo, warning that the eruption of violence may re-ignite the epidemic. (AP Photo/Jerome Delay, File)

The new cases were detected in the Butembo health zone, the health minister of North Kivu province, Eugene Nzanzu Salita, told reporters.

The cases represent a flare-up of the 2018-20 epidemic, which killed more than 2,200 people before it was declared over last June. Four people have died and two have recovered among the 11 cases, Nzanzu said.

Congo has experienced 11 outbreaks since the virus was first discovered near the Ebola River in 1976, more than double any other country.

Nigeria to use online registration platform for COVID-19 vaccinations

By Grace Kuria

Nigeria on Monday through the National Primary Healthcare Development Agency (NPHCDA) launched an online registration portal for COVID-19 vaccination.

A staff member of the Lagos State Environmental Protection Agency (LASEPA) puts up a banner during LASEPA’s Social Distancing Advocacy at the Ikorodu Community School in Lagos, Nigeria.

The Electronic Management of Immunization Data (EMID) is the official registration platform of the Nigeria Federal Ministry of Health for Coronavirus Vaccination, a platform that captures one’s data and schedules you for the vaccination.

One then will be required to enter their details and choose a vaccination centre of their choice. The online registration is expected to make vaccination easier and faster.

“The introduction of the electronic management of immunization data is critical to addressing challenges with integrity and quality data and ultimately, primary health care data.” said Dr. E. Osagie Ehanire, Nigeria’s minister of health.

Nigeria has also been on the lookout for illegal vaccine importation, with the minister for health saying that vaccines not approved by the National Agency for Food and Drug Administration and Control (NAFDAC) will be determined as dangerous, and will be seized by Customs Services and NAFDAC, who are on high alert for illegal vaccine importation.

On Saturday, Nigeria’s Chairman of the Presidential Task Force (PTF) on Covid-19 Mr. Boss Mustapha confirmed that the country will on Tuesday, March 2nd, receive 3,924,000 million doses of COVID-19 COVAX vaccines.

Nigeria has thus far recorded 156,000 cases of coronavirus and 1,907 deaths

Sundowns, Wydad register big wins in rearranged CAF Champions League fixtures

By David Ochieng Mbewa

Mamelodi Sundowns and Wydad Athletic Club on Sunday recorded impressive victories in their rearranged CAF Champions League matches on Sunday and go top of their respective groups.

The matches involving the two teams, originally scheduled for February 23 and February 13 respectively, were moved forward by CAF due to COVID-19-related disruptions.

The Confederation of African Football’s (CAF) Champions League trophy. (Photo credit MOHAMED EL-SHAHED/AFP/Getty Images)

2016 champions Sundowns cruised to a 5-1 win against 10-man CR Belouizdad of Algeria at the Tanzania National Main Stadium in Dar es Salaam.

The Algerians got off to the worst possible start as Chouhaib Keddad was sent off after just three minutes for handling a shot by Themba Zwane, who converted the resulting penalty.

Amir Sayoud equalized for CR Belouizdad, who were designated the ‘home’ team in this match, a minute before half-time.

However, the floodgates opened in the second half with goals from Peter Shalulile and Zwane within the first 10 minute of the second half making it 3-1.

Lebohang Maboe made it 4-1 with a quarter of an hour left and Kermit Erasmus came off the bench to round off the scoring just before the end of normal time.

Sundowns now sits top of Group B with six points, four ahead of TP Mazembe and five ahead of Al-Hilal Omdurman and CR Belouizdad.

Meanwhile, Wydad thumped South African side Kaizer Chiefs 4-0 at the Stade du 4 Août in Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso.

The two-time champions raced into a 7th minute lead through Mohamed Ounajem with Ayoub El Kaabi doubling their advantage shortly before the break. Substitute Simon Msuva and Yahya Jabrane completed the rout with a goal each late in the game.

The result sent the Moroccan club to the summit of Group C with a maximum six points from two games with Guinean club AC Horoya a further two points back. Chiefs, who are yet to score, are third with one point followed by Petro Atletico of Angola who are yet to register a point.

CAF allows Libya to host international football matches

By David Ochieng Mbewa

Libya is free to host international football matches following a safety, security and stadium inspection of the cities of Tripoli and Benghazi by the Confederation of African Football (CAF) last month.

Confederation of African Football (CAF) headquarters in Cairo, Egypt. (Photo by Stringer/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)

“The CAF Emergency Committee has lifted restrictions on hosting of CAF international matches on Libyan territory,” Africa’s football governing body said in a statement.

“Football matches will now return to Libya, beginning by Benghazi Stadium, subject to a number of conditions being met on stadium suitability to host CAF matches.”

CAF’s confirmation came after Libyan Football Federation president Abdulhakim Al-Shalmani announced that a decade-long ban on international football matches being played in Libya had been lifted.

Since 2011, during the Libyan civil war which resulted in the ouster of Muammar Gaddafi, FIFA imposed restrictions on hosting of international matches in the North African country.

This forced Libya’s clubs and national teams to play their matches in countries like Egypt, Mali, Morocco and Tunisia.

Though the sanctions were lifted briefly in 2013, they were reimposed thereafter.

As a result, Al Ahly Benghazi will be able to play their CAF Confederation Cup group match against ES Setif of Algeria on March 17 with the national team being able to host Tunisia in an Africa Cup of Nations qualifier a week later.

CAF, however, added that set a deadline of March 10 for Libya to comply with the CAF club licensing, safety and security requirements in addition to satisfying follow-up inspections on the stadium suitability.

Zimbabwean President to announce new COVID-19 lockdown measures as infections, deaths decline

By XINHUA

Zimbabwean President Emmerson Mnangagwa. (Photo by Wanda/Xinhua)

Zimbabwe’s current Level 4 COVID-19 lockdown is due to end Monday, with President Emmerson Mnangagwa expected to announce whether there will be an extension or relaxation of restrictions.

The country experienced increased infections and deaths in January and early February following the festive season when there was a lot of traveling, but these have since declined as the government enforced the stringent lockdown restrictions.

For the first time since the beginning of the year, there were no deaths recorded during the 24-hour reporting period for Saturday, while only 14 new cases were confirmed.

The decline has brought hope that the country has managed, to a great extent, to control the spread of COVID-19, although some people remain cautious, saying that the level of testing remains low and fear that a third wave of the pandemic could still hit the country.

To date, the country has recorded 1,463 deaths from 36,054 cases, with 2,005 being active.

Presidential spokesperson George Charamba told The Sunday Mail that Mnangagwa would update the nation on new measures before the expiry of the current lockdown.

Business leaders also told the paper that they were optimistic that the president’s address would come with eased lockdown measures to allow some operations to resume.

Confederation of Zimbabwe Industries President Henry Ruzvidzo said the current lockdown has resulted in market and supply chain disruptions for businesses.

“The rates of infection are indeed down and can be attributed to the swift action taken January. Our expectation is that we learn from the experience of the past few months on the major sources of risk and take measured responses going forward,” said Ruzvidzo.

“It is important to ensure that the economy can rebound recognizing the country’s limited capacity to bail out businesses. We expect more businesses to be allowed to resume operations,” he said.

Confederation of Zimbabwe Retailers Association President Denford Mutashu said there was a need to strike a critical balance.

“We need to up the tempo in the national vaccination exercise in our ongoing fight against the COVID-19 pandemic. However, we need to strike a critical balance by ensuring we double efforts on intra-trade and open up the economy further. Borders must remain closed until at least 50 percent of the population is vaccinated,” he said.

Zimbabwe has launched its COVID-19 vaccination program after taking the delivery of the first batch of vaccines from China.

Frontline workers, including journalists, are being prioritized for inoculation under the first phase of the vaccination program. Vaccination is being done on a voluntary basis and in three phases.

Zimbabwean doctors give Sinopharm vaccine thumbs up

By XINHUA

Some Zimbabwean doctors who are part of the frontline workers inoculated with their first doses of the Sinopharm COVID-19 vaccine donated by China, saying it is safe and encouraged others to get the jab, state media reported Saturday.

Epidemiologist and director of health for Kadoma City Daniel Chirundu told The Herald newspaper that he had taken the vaccine for a number of reasons.

“I took the Sinopharm vaccine to protect myself, those I work with and our clients. My vaccination also served as a cue for action among my subordinates and others who are now demanding it. It has been three days and I have not experienced any side effects,” he said.

Chirundu urged all Zimbabweans to accept vaccination if eligible.

He also encouraged Zimbabweans to continue wearing clean face masks the proper way, practicing social distance and hand hygiene (washing hands with soap and clean water).

“This is the only other non-pharmaceutical tool that is now available to complement our toolbox,” he said.

Misheck Ruwende, a doctor at Bulawayo’s Mpilo Central Hospital, said some people were anxious because COVID-19 was a novel disease and that vaccines were developed in a short period of time.

“That is not enough reason for people to say ‘I should not take it.’ It is just some of the steps that were supposed to be done as ABCD, that is B to come after A and C to come after B. It was now done as A along with B along with C. Remember people were dying and vaccine producers had to give way to all this so that vaccines come out early,” he explained.

Ruwende added that the other challenge was that people are getting themselves involved in the geo-politics happening between the Western and Eastern countries.

“China is developing better and better things,” he said.

Ruwende added that many Zimbabwean doctors were getting vaccinated.

“Even where I work, many doctors are getting vaccinated. So if doctors are leading, they know best about the side effects, about vaccines, and if they are giving us a good example, there is no need for people to be hesitant to take the vaccine,” he emphasized.

Ruwende further said the Sinopharm vaccine had been used in various countries across the globe.

“It is being used in various countries. The United Arab Emirates was the first to approve it for their population in December. They had already approved it for their health workers months before. Hungary was the first European country to approve it, and they are already using it in their country,” he said, adding that the Sinopharm vaccine was also being used in many other countries including Morocco and Egypt.

“The Sinopharm vaccine has gone through all clinical trials. My advice is whatever vaccine you get right now, just get it. The vaccines go through rigorous exercises.” He said.

He added that “this is voluntary, no one is being forced.”

He said skepticism was good in the absence of evidence, but thankfully available evidence was heavily in favor of vaccination.

“COVID-19 has killed over 2.5 million people worldwide including thousands of fellow Zimbabweans, some of them among our families and friends,” he said.

Kenya records 325 new coronavirus cases

By Grace Kuria

NAIROBI, KENYA – 2020/03/06: Health workers dressed in protective suits at the Coronavirus isolation ward in Mbagathi hospital amid Coronavirus fears in Nairobi. (Photo by Dennis Sigwe/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images)

Kenya’s Ministry of Health (MoH) on Sunday announced that the country has registered 325 more positive coronavirus cases. This brings the total tally of the country’s cases to 105,973.

69 more patients have recovered, 58 from the Home Based Isolation and Care while 11 are from various health facilities. The total recoveries are now 86,678.

Unfortunately, two more patients succumbed to the disease bringing the total fatalities to 1,856.

The country has 17,439 active coronavirus cases.

The country’s Health Cabinet Secretary, Mutahi Kagwe also announced that Covid-19 vaccines will arrive in the country from Tuesday 2nd March, with the first priority being health care workers.

Zimbabwean President to announce new COVID-19 lockdown measures as infections, deaths decline

By XINHUA

Zimbabwean President Emmerson Mnangagwa. (Photo by Wanda/Xinhua)

Zimbabwe’s current Level 4 COVID-19 lockdown is due to end Monday, with President Emmerson Mnangagwa expected to announce whether there will be an extension or relaxation of restrictions.

The country experienced increased infections and deaths in January and early February following the festive season when there was a lot of traveling, but these have since declined as the government enforced the stringent lockdown restrictions.

For the first time since the beginning of the year, there were no deaths recorded during the 24-hour reporting period for Saturday, while only 14 new cases were confirmed.

The decline has brought hope that the country has managed, to a great extent, to control the spread of COVID-19, although some people remain cautious, saying that the level of testing remains low and fear that a third wave of the pandemic could still hit the country.

To date, the country has recorded 1,463 deaths from 36,054 cases, with 2,005 being active.

Presidential spokesperson George Charamba told The Sunday Mail that Mnangagwa would update the nation on new measures before the expiry of the current lockdown.

Business leaders also told the paper that they were optimistic that the president’s address would come with eased lockdown measures to allow some operations to resume.

Confederation of Zimbabwe Industries President Henry Ruzvidzo said the current lockdown has resulted in market and supply chain disruptions for businesses.

“The rates of infection are indeed down and can be attributed to the swift action taken January. Our expectation is that we learn from the experience of the past few months on the major sources of risk and take measured responses going forward,” said Ruzvidzo.

“It is important to ensure that the economy can rebound recognizing the country’s limited capacity to bail out businesses. We expect more businesses to be allowed to resume operations,” he said.

Confederation of Zimbabwe Retailers Association President Denford Mutashu said there was a need to strike a critical balance.

“We need to up the tempo in the national vaccination exercise in our ongoing fight against the COVID-19 pandemic. However, we need to strike a critical balance by ensuring we double efforts on intra-trade and open up the economy further. Borders must remain closed until at least 50 percent of the population is vaccinated,” he said.

Zimbabwe has launched its COVID-19 vaccination program after taking the delivery of the first batch of vaccines from China.

Frontline workers, including journalists, are being prioritized for inoculation under the first phase of the vaccination program. Vaccination is being done on a voluntary basis and in three phases.

Johnson & Johnson’s single-shot Covid vaccine approved by FDA

By Grace Kuria

The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) on Saturday issued emergency use authorization for Johnson & Johnson’s Covid-19 vaccine, which is administered as a single dose.

A vial of the Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine. /Reuters

“The authorization of this vaccine expands the availability of vaccines, the best medical prevention method for Covid-19, to help us in the fight against this pandemic,” said Acting FDA Commissioner Janet Woodcock.

“With today’s authorization, we are adding another vaccine in our medical toolbox to fight this virus,” said Peter Marks, the director of the FDA’s Center for Biologics Evaluation and Research.

Johnson & Johnson’s shots are believed to be effective against the country’s 501Y.V2 variant.

This is great news for South Africa, whose regulators were awaiting for the FDA decision the government looks to deploy more J&J vaccine against a variant of the virus

The country, which has the highest number of Covid_19 infections in the continent, on Saturday received its second consignment of Johnson & Johnson Covid-19 vaccines.

“Within just over one week, from a standing start, 63,648 patient-facing healthcare workers in the public and private sector have been vaccinated against Covid_19.” said the country’s health minister Dr. Zweli Mkhize.

South Africa plans to inoculate 40 million people, or two-thirds of the population, to achieve some level of herd immunity.

The country has thus far recorded 1.51M Coronavirus cases and 49,941 deaths.