Coronavirus morning update: ANC backs Ramaphosa, govt on lockdown moves - says many lives saved

WHAT'S HAPPENING IN SA

Cases update: 

The latest number of confirmed cases is 587 345.

According to the latest update, 11 839 deaths have been recorded in the country.

There have been 472 377 recoveries.

So far, a total of of over 3.4 million tests have been conducted, with 22 609 new tests reported.

READ MORE | All the confirmed cases of coronavirus in SA

Latest news:

Let's all press forward together, the ANC said on Sunday, throwing its weight behind President Cyril Ramaphosa's decision to move the country to Alert Level 2 of the Covid-19 lockdown.

In a statement, ANC spokesperson Pule Mabe said the party commended the tireless efforts and effective leadership of Ramaphosa and his team in the war against the Covid-19 pandemic.

On Saturday evening, Ramaphosa addressed the nation, saying while the need for vigilance in the face of the pandemic remained, there was reason for hope.

He announced an easing of the lockdown restrictions to Alert Level 2 from midnight (23:59) on Monday.

This means interprovincial travel will be allowed and hotels and guest houses can allow leisure travellers.

The cigarette ban will be completely lifted, while licensed liquor outlets – bars, shebeens and taverns – will be allowed alcohol sales on-site only until 22:00.

READ MORE | ANC throws its weight behind Ramaphosa, applauds Cabinet for hard lockdown

While President Cyril Ramaphosa's easing of the lockdown regulations to allow more economic activity – including the sale of cigarettes and alcohol – was generally welcomed, some opposition parties have called it too little, too late.

In a statement titled "Too late, Mr President. You've already killed the economy", DA interim leader John Steenhuisen said Ramaphosa's announcement "is nothing but a capitulation to the real power in the ANC, who desperately want to cling to the 'new normal' they have created for South Africa these past five months".

"The lockdown, along with the state of disaster that was again extended for 30 days today [Saturday], only serves to place power and control in a few hands and bypasses government's legislative arm entirely. Whether they call it level one, two, three or six, it doesn't matter. It should not be there at all," he said.

He said government shouldn't be praised for lifting the ban on alcohol and cigarette sales and opening beaches, parks and the like, and allowing interprovincial travel – they should have done that months ago, along with lifting all restrictions on economic activity.

The EFF, however, has rejected the easing of lockdown restrictions and questioned whether the infection rate had lowered. The party has accused Ramaphosa of "conspiring" with the Department of Health to manipulate the data.

READ MORE | Too little, too late - opposition responds to easing of lockdown regulations

In a speech of exactly 2 500 words, President Cyril Ramaphosa used 74 words to address a topic which has caused much public outrage in recent weeks: Covid-19-related corruption.

In the latest edition of "My fellow South Africans" on Saturday evening, Ramaphosa announced that the country's lockdown will be eased to Alert Level 2.

On the spate of corruption in Covid-19-related procurement, he only said the following: "While this crisis has brought us together as a nation, united against a common threat, it has also brought out some of the worst tendencies in our society.

"We have witnessed the actions of some individuals who have sought to profit through corrupt means from this pandemic.

"We have taken decisive action to stop this and bring those responsible to book, and we will regularly update the country on the progress we are making."

READ MORE | Government has taken 'decisive action' against Covid-19 corruption, Ramaphosa claims

WHAT'S HAPPENING IN THE REST OF THE WORLD 

Cases update:

For the latest global data, follow this interactive map from Johns Hopkins University & Medicine.

Late on Sunday night, positive cases worldwide were over 21.5 million, while deaths were more than 772 000.

The United States had the most cases in the world - over 5.3 million, as well as the most deaths - nearly 170 000.

READ MORE | All the confirmed cases worldwide

Latest news:

Concerts are sweaty, crowded, with plenty of screaming and singing — things the novel coronavirus thrives on.

So far, attempts to hold coronavirus-proof concerts in other countries have struggled. In the US, gigs for country singer Chase Rice in Tennessee, and Smash Mouth in South Dakota were criticised for not enforcing the six-foot rule that can reduce coronavirus transmission, and not mandating masks.

But this week, concert organisers in the UK showed that, with some creativity, it may be possible to gather thousands of people to sing, dance, and enjoy live music in a safe way.

On August 11, pop up venue Virgin Money Unity Area in Newcastle held its first-ever socially distant concert — equipped with 500 private viewing decks spaced two metres apart to keep its 2,500 attendees safe, reported Popular Mechanics.

READ MORE | 2,500 guests attended a concert in England, while keeping 2 metres away from one another

LATEST RESEARCH

As vaccine candidates are still in various stages of testing, medical experts are relying on developing other treatments to help eliminate Covid-19 deaths.

Now, scientists from the University of California have identified a way to screen millions of chemicals in an attempt to find suitable Covid-19 treatment drugs – all through machine learning.

The full research was published in the journal Heliyon.

"There is an urgent need to identify effective drugs that treat or prevent Covid-19," said Anandasankar Ray, a professor of molecular, cell, and systems biology, in a news release. "We have developed a drug discovery pipeline that identified several candidates,” stated Ray, who led this research.

In an effort to help discover drugs that can potentially treat Covid-19, the researchers have used a type of computational strategy linked to artificial intelligence. This works through a computer algorithm which can predict activity over time, through trial and error – i.e. a drug discovery pipeline.

READ MORE | Scientists now able to identify hundreds of potential Covid-19 treatment drugs

HEALTH TIPS (as recommended by the NICD and WHO)

• Maintain physical distancing – stay at least one metre away from somebody who is coughing or sneezing

• Practise frequent hand-washing, especially after direct contact with ill people or their environment

• Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth, as your hands touch many surfaces and could potentially transfer the virus

• Practise respiratory hygiene – cover your mouth with your bent elbow or tissue when you cough or sneeze. Remember to dispose the tissue immediately after use.

Image credit: Getty Images

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