Coronavirus morning update: SA moving to lockdown Level 2, cigarette and alcohol bans to be lifted

WHAT'S HAPPENING IN SA

Cases update: 

The latest number of confirmed cases is 583 653.

According to the latest update, 11 677 deaths have been recorded in the country.

There have been 466 941 recoveries.

So far, a total of more than 3.37 million tests have been conducted, with 26 918 new tests reported.

READ MORE | All the confirmed cases of coronavirus in SA

Latest news:

The much-anticipated lifting of the alcohol and tobacco ban has been announced by President Cyril Ramaphosa.

On Saturday evening, Ramaphosa declared SA would move from Level 3 to Level 2 lockdown.

In his announcement, the president said Level 2 meant that "nearly all restrictions can be removed".

"Guided by the advice of our health experts and after consultation with provincial and local government, Cabinet has decided to place the entire country on alert Level 2…[this] means that there is a moderate Covid-19 spread of the virus with a relatively high health system readiness," he said.

Ramaphosa said the move to Level 2 means "the resumption of economic activity across most industries".

"Economic activity will be allowed with the necessary and appropriate stringent health protocols and safety precautions in place. We have concluded that the lower rate of infections we are experiencing should lead to the relaxation of the restrictions we have had thus far."

He stressed, though, that this did not mean life was back to normal.

READ MORE | SA down to Level 2 lockdown, with tobacco, alcohol bans lifted

Western Cape Premier Alan Winde has welcomed the Level 2 lockdown announcement by President Cyril Ramaphosa, but his party leader, John Steenhuisen, was critical of the head of state.

Reaction to Ramaphosa's much-anticipated Level 2 lockdown announcement, which included the lifting of the alcohol and tobacco bans, came in thick and fast on Saturday after the president's 20:00 speech.

Steenhuisen said the extension of the national state of disaster sought to keep a few in absolute control.

"The lockdown, along with the state of disaster that was again extended for 30 days today, only serves to place power and control in a few hands and bypasses the government's legislative arm entirely. Whether they call it Level 1, 2, 3 or 6, it doesn't matter. It should not be there at all."

Steenhuisen said lifting the ban on alcohol and tobacco sales, as well as the opening of beaches and parks, and permitting inter-provincial travel, was "not something for which government should now be praised or thanked".

READ MORE | Winde welcomes Level 2 announcement, others criticise Ramaphosa and ANC

On midnight at Monday, South Africa will move to Alert Level 2 of the national lockdown.

President Cyril Ramaphosa announced on Saturday evening that the country can afford to open up the economy and allow more activities, given that “all indications are” that South Africa has reached the peak of the coronavirus pandemic, and that the health sector is able to withstand and deal with the pandemic.

“The further easing of restrictions presents us with the greatest opportunity since the start of the pandemic to breathe life into our struggling economy,” Ramaphosa said.

While the full details of what will be permitted under Level 2 still need to be gazetted, some of the changes included the lifting of the alcohol and tobacco bans, permitting interprovincial travel and the opening of gyms and fitness centres.

READ MORE | SA to move to Level 2: What you can and cannot do

The Gauteng provincial government will publish a list of contractors it used for Covid-19 procurement in an effort to promote transparency, it said on Saturday.

In a statement released by spokesperson Thabo Masebe, the Gauteng government said it is publishing a list of companies that have been contracted to provide goods and services since April.

The first list contains names of companies contracted for the provincial government's Covid-19 response.

"The Gauteng Treasury is today publishing the first Covid-19 expenditure report, covering the period April to July 2020. The report includes full details of the companies that are awarded contracts, description and value of goods and services to be supplied and amounts paid to each supplier," he said.

Masebe said Gauteng Treasury would publish the list monthly.

"As committed by Premier David Makhura, going forward, Gauteng Treasury will publish the names of all companies contracted to provide goods and services for the entire provincial government monthly."

He added: "Clean governance has been one of the hallmarks of the Gauteng provincial government during the 5th and 6th administrations."

READ MORE | Covid-19: Gauteng government to publish list of contractors 'to promote transparency'

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 Saturday night, positive cases worldwide were almost 21.30 million, while deaths were more than 768 000.

The United States had the most cases in the world - nearly 5.35 million, as well as the most deaths - more than 169 000.

READ MORE | All the confirmed cases worldwide

Latest news:

More than $525 billion in loans have been approved through the US government's Paycheck Protection Program, intended to help businesses survive the Covid-19 pandemic. But one man is accused of instead spending $1.5 million of that on a house, a yacht, and a brand-new Kia.

A criminal complaint that was unsealed on Tuesday said Kenneth Gaughan, 41, from Washington, D.C., has been arrested and charged with fraudulently obtaining more than $2.1 million in PPP and Economic Injury Disaster Loans relief funds, according to the United States Department of Justice.

The complaint alleges that Gaughan requested and obtained his short-lived millions by applying on behalf of several companies that all falsely claimed to register emotional support animals. He is being accused of forging paperwork and bank records, and charged with one count of bank fraud, one count of the theft of government funds, one count of wire fraud, and one count of money laundering.

After receiving the money, the complaint said Gaughan used it to buy a $300 000 yacht, a $1.13 million row house, and a $46 000 2020 Kia Stinger.

In addition to arresting Gaughan, authorities also seized the yacht, the Stinger, and Gaughan's investment and bank accounts. They are also filing a civil forfeiture complaint against the row house.

READ MORE | US man charged with obtaining $2.1 million in Covid-19 funds and using them to buy a yacht and a Kia Stinger

LATEST RESEARCH

During the coronavirus pandemic, an underlying danger continues to be the spread of fake news, misinformation and conspiracy theories.

A new paper, published in The American Journal of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene, investigates the phenomenon that experts now refer to as an “infodemic” – where an overload of misinformation, fake news, rumours and conspiracy theories is causing significant harm and affecting more than mental health. Misinformation on so-called “treatments” and preventative measures can cause physical harm and even death.

In this new research, a team of infectious disease experts examined social media platforms and news websites to monitor misinformation on Covid-19.

They found over 2 300 reports containing potentially harmful Covid-19 related statements, rumours, conspiracy theories and misinformation.

In the paper, the study authors cited a popular myth that consuming concentrated alcohol will “kill off” the virus.

READ MORE | Study shows coronavirus conspiracy theories and fake news can have severe consequences

A new study reports that the more obese you are, the more likely you are to either die from infection with the new coronavirus or require lifesaving mechanical ventilation to survive.

Morbidly obese Covid-19 patients are 60% more likely to die or require intubation, compared with people of normal weight, researchers found.

Patients who were mildly obese were 10% more likely to die or need a breathing machine, while those who were moderately obese were 30% more likely, according to the study.

"Increasing obesity was associated with an increased risk of lung failure or death in Covid-19," said lead researcher Dr Michaela Anderson, a pulmonologist at Columbia University Irving Medical Center in New York City.

But obesity only posed a risk for people under 65, researchers added.

READ MORE | Obesity ups odds for severe Covid-19, but age matters

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

We live in a world where facts and fiction get blurred
In times of uncertainty you need journalism you can trust. For only R75 per month, you have access to a world of in-depth analyses, investigative journalism, top opinions and a range of features. Journalism strengthens democracy. Invest in the future today.
Subscribe to News24
Voting Booth
Have you entered our Health of the Nation survey?
Please select an option Oops! Something went wrong, please try again later.
Results
Yes
33% - 9379 votes
No
67% - 19431 votes
Vote