The country will remain on virus alert level 3, Ramaphosa said Monday in a televised address. (Bloomberg)
The country will remain on virus alert level 3, Ramaphosa said Monday in a televised address. (Bloomberg)

South Africa says it has secured 20 million coronavirus vaccines

The pandemic and restrictions imposed to contain it have devastated Africa’s most industrialized economy.
Bloomberg
PUBLISHED ON JAN 12, 2021 01:11 PM IST

South African President Cyril Ramaphosa said the government has secured millions more doses of coronavirus vaccines as he extended a ban on alcohol sales and restricted cross-border travel to curb the spread of the disease.

The country will remain on virus alert level 3, Ramaphosa said Monday in a televised address. Land-border posts will be closed to most travelers until Feb. 15, public gatherings other than funerals won’t be allowed, and a nationwide curfew will be enforced from 9 p.m. to 5 a.m.

“The pandemic in our country is now at its most devastating,” Ramaphosa said. “We must unite to overcome the grave and persisting crisis our country faces.”

The pandemic and restrictions imposed to contain it have devastated Africa’s most industrialized economy, and the extension of curbs that came into effect at the height of the holiday season bode ill for efforts to engineer a rebound. The economy is estimated by the government to have contracted the most in nine decades last year.

Varying restrictions on alcohol sales have been implemented since an initial lockdown was imposed in late March, helping lower hospital admissions from vehicle accidents and alcohol-related violence. An prohibition introduced on Dec. 28 that was due to end on Jan. 15 will remain in place, Ramaphosa said.

Vaccine Plans

Most of the 20 million vaccine doses the government has secured will arrive in the first half of this year, the president said. He didn’t provide details of the additional supply deals, saying they would be revealed once negotiations are concluded.

The government last week announced it had struck a deal for an initial 1.5 million doses of a vaccine developed by AstraZeneca Plc and the University of Oxford from The Serum Institute of India Ltd., with first shipments set to arrive this month. It will aim to inoculate two-thirds of the population by the end of the year.

“We are exploring all avenues to get as many vaccine doses as soon as possible,” Ramaphosa said on Monday.

The announcement will help blunt criticism the government has faced from labor unions and health professionals over its slow progress in procuring vaccines, even as more than 40 other countries start their inoculation programs.

‘Positive Progress’

“The tentative progress in securing vaccine orders appears positive,” the Congress of South African Trade Unions, the nation’s biggest labor federation, said in a statement. “We will only be convinced when we see the vaccines being delivered, transported and dispensed.”

South Africa, which has detected a second and more infectious strain of the virus known as 501.V2, has reported more than 119,000 new infections since Jan. 1, bringing the cumulative total to more than 1.23 million.

“If anything, the new variant means we must be more vigilant and diligent,” Ramaphosa said. “We must never see ourselves as being totally helpless. Our actions do have an impact on the direction and extent of the disease.”

Other speech highlights:

  • Beaches, dams, lakes and swimming pools will remain closed in all virus hotspots.
  • The six busiest border posts -- Beitbridge, Lebombo, Maseru Bridge, Oshoek, Ficksburg and Kopfontein -- are among those that will be closed to most travelers.
  • Borders will remain open for the transportation of fuel and cargo, and South African nationals and permanent residents will be allowed to return home.
  • The government is still deliberating on when schools should reopen.
  • Vaccines will be distributed through hospitals, clinics, doctors’ offices, pharmacies and workplaces.
SHARE THIS ARTICLE ON
Close
HHS has drastically cut its capacity due to the coronavirus pandemic. Nearly all of the department’s 7,100 beds for immigrant children are full.(AFP Photo. Representative image)
HHS has drastically cut its capacity due to the coronavirus pandemic. Nearly all of the department’s 7,100 beds for immigrant children are full.(AFP Photo. Representative image)

Amid surge, US tries to expedite release of migrant children

AP
PUBLISHED ON FEB 25, 2021 03:00 AM IST
US Health and Human Services on Wednesday authorized operators of long-term facilities to pay for some of the children’s flights and transportation to the homes of their sponsors.
Close
"In the end, Iran needs to understand that what’s important is to de-escalate and accept the offer of diplomacy that’s on the table, including from the United States,” German foreign minister Heiko Maas said.(AFP Photo)
"In the end, Iran needs to understand that what’s important is to de-escalate and accept the offer of diplomacy that’s on the table, including from the United States,” German foreign minister Heiko Maas said.(AFP Photo)

Germany urges Iran to accept diplomacy in nuclear dispute

AP
PUBLISHED ON FEB 25, 2021 12:12 AM IST
Iran this week effectively set a deadline to lift those sanctions within three months, after which it said it would erase surveillance footage of its nuclear facilities
Close
The B117 variant last week became dominant in Denmark, accounting for nearly two-thirds of all new infections, up from less than 5% at the beginning of the year.(Reuters Photo. Representative image)
The B117 variant last week became dominant in Denmark, accounting for nearly two-thirds of all new infections, up from less than 5% at the beginning of the year.(Reuters Photo. Representative image)

Hospitalisation risk 64% higher with UK Covid-19 variant: Report

Reuters
PUBLISHED ON FEB 25, 2021 12:08 AM IST
Out of 2,155 people infected with the variant codenamed B117 in the institute's study, 128 were hospitalised, a rate 64% higher than people infected with other variants, the country's Serum Institute said.
Close
DeJoy, a supporter of former President Donald Trump appointed to head the Postal Service last year, suspended operational changes in August after heavy criticism over postal delays.(Bloomberg)
DeJoy, a supporter of former President Donald Trump appointed to head the Postal Service last year, suspended operational changes in August after heavy criticism over postal delays.(Bloomberg)

Congress weighs reforms to troubled US Postal Service over finance woes

Reuters
PUBLISHED ON FEB 24, 2021 11:38 PM IST
"Our dire financial trajectory, operational and network misalignment to mail trends, outdated pricing, infrastructure underinvestment, inadequate people engagement, and an insufficient growth strategy – all demand immediate action," Postmaster General Louis DeJoy told lawmakers.
Close
Officials said the EU was working with the IATA, the OECD and the World Health Organization.(AFP)
Officials said the EU was working with the IATA, the OECD and the World Health Organization.(AFP)

EU mulls vaccination passports to resurrect tourism after Covid-19

Reuters, Brussels
PUBLISHED ON FEB 24, 2021 11:12 PM IST
However, France and Germany appear more reluctant, as officials there say it could create de facto vaccination obligation.
Close
Vials with Covid-19 Vaccine stickers attached and syringes with the logo of US pharmaceutical company Johnson & Johnson. (AFP)
Vials with Covid-19 Vaccine stickers attached and syringes with the logo of US pharmaceutical company Johnson & Johnson. (AFP)

J&J’s Covid-19 vaccine closes in on FDA’s nod

By Yashwant Raj
PUBLISHED ON FEB 24, 2021 11:06 PM IST
According to papers submitted by Johnson & Johnson to the FDA seeking emergency use go-ahead, the vaccine has demonstrated an overall efficacy level of 66% - 72% in the United States and 57% in South Africa, a country that is dealing with a highly contagious strain of the coronavirus.
Close
Fugitive diamond merchant Nirav Modi. (HT File)
Fugitive diamond merchant Nirav Modi. (HT File)

PNB scam case: UK judge to rule on Nirav Modi extradition case on Thursday

Posted by Prashasti Singh | PTI
UPDATED ON FEB 24, 2021 11:01 PM IST
The 49-year-old is expected to appear via videolink from Wandsworth Prison in south-west London at Westminster Magistrates’ Court, where District Judge Samuel Goozee is set to hand down his judgment on whether the jeweller has a case to answer before the Indian courts.
Close
William Burns, nominee for Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) director, is sworn into his Senate Intelligence Committee hearing on Capitol Hill in Washington.(REUTERS)
William Burns, nominee for Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) director, is sworn into his Senate Intelligence Committee hearing on Capitol Hill in Washington.(REUTERS)

CIA nominee pledges to provide 'unvarnished' intelligence

PTI, Washington
PUBLISHED ON FEB 24, 2021 10:48 PM IST
William Burns said the president "wants the agency to give it to him straight, and I plan to do just that and to defend those who do the same."
Close
Rescue divers conduct search operations for victims of a capsized boat in Lake Mariout, 20 kilometres west of Egypt's second city of Alexandria on February 23, 2021.(AFP)
Rescue divers conduct search operations for victims of a capsized boat in Lake Mariout, 20 kilometres west of Egypt's second city of Alexandria on February 23, 2021.(AFP)

UN says 41 Europe-bound migrants fleeing Libya drown in Mediterranean

AP
UPDATED ON FEB 24, 2021 10:09 PM IST
  • The UN migration and refugee agencies said in a joint statement that the dead were among at least 120 migrants on a dinghy that left Libya on February 18.
Close
At its last plenary in October 2020, FATF concluded that Pakistan had fully complied with 21 of 27 points in the action plan but warned the country that it could not be given “forever” to address outstanding issues. (FILE PHOTO).
At its last plenary in October 2020, FATF concluded that Pakistan had fully complied with 21 of 27 points in the action plan but warned the country that it could not be given “forever” to address outstanding issues. (FILE PHOTO).

FATF to take a call on Pakistan's efforts to counter terror financing tomorrow

PUBLISHED ON FEB 24, 2021 10:06 PM IST
  • FATF’s latest plenary is also being held at a time when the US has been irked by the Pakistan Supreme Court’s acquittal of terrorist Omar Saeed Sheikh, the principal accused in the 2002 murder of American journalist Daniel Pearl.
Close
Screengrab from “confessional” video of former Taliban spokesperson Ehsanullah Ehsan.(YouTube)
Screengrab from “confessional” video of former Taliban spokesperson Ehsanullah Ehsan.(YouTube)

Pakistan military personnel punished over escape of Taliban figure: Spokesperson

Reuters, Rawalpindi
PUBLISHED ON FEB 24, 2021 09:40 PM IST
Liaqat Ali, the former public face of the militant Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP), escaped last year three years after he handed himself in to the military.
Close
Asylum seekers sit inside a tent at a migrant encampment in Matamoros, Mexico.(REUTERS)
Asylum seekers sit inside a tent at a migrant encampment in Matamoros, Mexico.(REUTERS)

US to admit asylum seekers from hard-hit camp at Texas border

Reuters, Washington
PUBLISHED ON FEB 24, 2021 09:11 PM IST
The camp, across the Rio Grande from Brownsville, Texas, is home to hundreds of migrants, most from Central America, hoping to be granted refuge across the border.
Close
Zollfahndungsamt Hamburg shows a detail of cocaine after German authorities seized more than 16 tonnes of cocaine in the northern port city of Hamburg, Germany.(REUTERS)
Zollfahndungsamt Hamburg shows a detail of cocaine after German authorities seized more than 16 tonnes of cocaine in the northern port city of Hamburg, Germany.(REUTERS)

Over 23 tonnes of cocaine seized in Europe's biggest haul

Reuters
PUBLISHED ON FEB 24, 2021 09:04 PM IST
The two shipments together represented a street value of roughly $730 million, the Dutch prosecutors said.
Close
A 2014 UN Commission of Inquiry report said the prisoners are facing torture, rape, forced labour, starvation and other inhumane treatment.(AP)
A 2014 UN Commission of Inquiry report said the prisoners are facing torture, rape, forced labour, starvation and other inhumane treatment.(AP)

North Korea enslaving political prisoners to fund weapons programme: Report

Reuters
PUBLISHED ON FEB 24, 2021 08:54 PM IST
According to the report, Pyongyang had been operating a "pyramid fraud-like" scheme to force those held in prison camps to produce quotas of coal and other goods for export.
Close
The sun sets over the skyscrapers of the City of London financial district, amid the coronavirus disease (Covid-19) outbreak in London, Britain.(Reuters)
The sun sets over the skyscrapers of the City of London financial district, amid the coronavirus disease (Covid-19) outbreak in London, Britain.(Reuters)

Number of women on UK corporate boards rises 50% in 5 years

AP
PUBLISHED ON FEB 24, 2021 08:43 PM IST
The number of women on the boards of directors of Britain’s 350 top publicly traded firms has jumped by more than 50% since 2015, meaning that 34.3% of all board seats are now held by women, an independent panel said in a report published Wednesday.
Close
SHARE
Story Saved
OPEN APP