LATEST SCIENCE AND RESEARCH
The new coronavirus (which causes Covid-19 disease) spares most children, and experts from the Murdoch Children's Research Institute (MCRI), the University of Melbourne and the University of Fribourg have weighed in to explain why this is the case.
After reviewing a body of global studies on Covid-19 and children, they concluded that the underlying factors responsible for the age-related differences in Covid-19 severity are associated with the differences in immune systems and better blood vessel health in children.
Scientists are working around the clock to develop and test vaccines against SARS-CoV-2, the causative agent of Covid-19.
Experts agree that widespread use of safe and effective vaccines will rapidly contain the Covid-19 pandemic, preventing transmission and disease.
A key step in the process of any vaccine development is clinical testing, which involves assigning a vaccine or a placebo to human subjects, then evaluating the health effects over a period of time.
This testing helps to demonstrate safety in diverse human populations living in different settings, and to determine vaccine efficacy – the ability to prevent infection and disease.
Globally, Covid-19 vaccine trials are being conducted in all continents, representing all diverse human populations in the world. In Africa, Egypt and South Africa are participating in these trials. Many other countries are also preparing to participate.
To date there are 260 Covid-19 vaccine candidates at different stages of development. Sixty of these are undergoing clinical testing (human trials) in different phases.
CORONAVIRUS CASES LATEST
The latest number of confirmed cases is 817 878.
According to the latest update, 22 249 deaths have been recorded in the country.
There have been 745 750 recoveries.
So far, 5.6 million tests have been conducted, with 19 252 new tests reported.
Global cases update:
For the latest global data, follow this interactive map from Johns Hopkins University & Medicine.
Late on Monday evening, positive cases worldwide were 67.3 million, while deaths were close to 1.5 million.
The United States had the most cases in the world - 14.8 million, as well as the most deaths - close to 282 797.
WHAT'S HAPPENING IN SA
All Rage Festival events planned for 2020 and 2021 have been postponed following a Covid-19 outbreak after the Ballito Rage held from 27 November to 4 December.
The Joburg Rage had been scheduled for 12 and 13 December, the Plett Rage for 29 January to 6 February, and the event in Jeffreys Bay from 15 to 22 December.
According to Darren Sandras, a spokesperson for the event organisers, amended refund policies will be communicated over the next few days.
"Tickets for Plett Rage have been paused with immediate effect. This is to ensure all necessary further consultation with the relevant officials and stakeholders can take place. For now, all further Rage Festival events are postponed as we consult further with the relevant officials and stakeholders. More details can be shared as they become available," Sandras said.
"We continue to communicate with all stakeholders. Every event at the festival was deemed compliant and the full go-ahead was given by the local health department and the Durban Events Department.
"We are devastated that despite all efforts before and during the festival and at all Rage-controlled venues, some attendees still contracted Covid-19. We are [cooperating] fully with all authorities and stakeholders and will continue to do so as required and we are making whatever resources available as needed."
The Eastern Cape Liquor Board (ECLB) has condemned liquor traders who are disregarding trading conditions and Covid-19 health protocols in the province.
The board has raised concerns about cases of non-compliance by liquor outlets, as the Eastern Cape province grapples with the rapid resurgence of Covid-19 cases.
"As a result, liquor outlets are characterised as super spreaders of Covid-19 [infections] in our province," the board said on Monday.
ECLB Chief Executive Officer Dr Nombuyiselo Makala said: "It is extremely concerning that our people have become so complacent and are behaving as if Covid-19 does not exist at all."
According to the board, they have observed, with serious concern, that patrons that frequent liquor outlets completely disregard the Covid 19 health protocols.
South Africans who have been denied access to the special Covid-19 Social Relief of Distress (SRD) grant must lodge an appeal before 28 February 2021 to stand a chance of receiving backdated financial assistance.
The South African Social Security Agency (Sassa) recently confirmed that the SRD grant, which has been marred by administrative blunders and technical glitches, would come to an end in January 2021. To date, almost 19.8 million SRD payments have been made to mitigate the pandemic’s devastating financial impact on vulnerable citizens.
Since the grant’s formation in May, more than 16.4 million applicants have been denied, with only 60 000 appeals confirmed by Sassa. After being met with a barrage of criticism, with applicants citing unfair rejections, Sassa created and extended an appeal process which sought to examine all cases on an individual basis.
“Anyone who doesn't lodge an appeal will not be reconsidered as we don't have funds to reconsider every declined case,” said Sassa in response to the grant’s extension as announced by President Cyril Ramaphosa in November.
On 4 December 2020, Sassa confirmed a deadline for the appeal process, noting that any outstanding complaints would need to be finalised before March 2021. “Appeals for applications made during the extension period, between November 2020 and January 2021 should be lodged on or before 28 February 2021,” noted Sassa in a public statement.
WHAT'S HAPPENING IN THE REST OF THE WORLD
Chancellor Angela Merkel on Monday urged German regions with high coronavirus rates to tighten social contact restrictions before Christmas as the country struggled to slow a second wave of infections.
Long hailed as an example in the pandemic due to a far lower death rate than most of its neighbours, Germany has seen its infection levels plateau at a high level for more than a month.
Merkel's spokesperson Steffen Seibert told reporters that as a result, the government welcomed a move by Bavaria on Sunday to step up its shutdown rules and limit New Year's Eve gatherings.
"These are worrisome days," Seibert said, noting that infections rates "are not consistently going down" but rather rising in some areas and that Germany was "far from turning the corner".
"It is obvious and also necessary for individual states to think about which measures they could use to curb new infections," he said, calling Bavaria's planned tightening from Wednesday "good and right".
The eastern state of Saxony, coping with its own infections spike, followed suit with an announcement it would meet Tuesday to agree stricter rules.