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Message that cigarettes are going back on sale is fake news

According to the Citizen, Fita says a Whatsapp message claiming that the courts have now said its OK to sell cigarettes is simply wrong.

The Fair Trade Independent Tobacco Association (Fita) have debunked a Whatsapp message claiming that cigarettes will go back on the shelves on Wednesday.

Fita say the message, which has been widely circulated, is incorrect and is misleading.

The judgement is set to be emailed to the parties, with Fita warning that misleading messages circulating on social media have incorrectly stated that the judgement has been handed down.

“We have been made aware of a number of communications doing the rounds on different social media platforms claiming that the Pretoria High Court has made a ruling on the cigarette ban matter. This is not correct and is misleading,” Fita said.

“We will make the necessary announcement once we are in receipt of the judgment from the Pretoria High Court. We thank you as always for your continued support throughout this entire period.”

The Association is currently locked in a court battle with government over the ban on cigarettes.

The fake message claims the courts have now given the OK for the ban to be lifted, despite the ongoing court case which has seen the government argue in favour of the ban, claiming that smokers are more likely to get a serious case of Covid-19.

Sources: Citizen, BusinessTech

Coronavirus breakthrough drug is made in South Africa!

According to Business Insider, a cheap steroid, which is available from R149 an injection in South Africa, has been hailed as a breakthrough treatment to reduce fatalities among severely ill Covid-19 patients.

Dexamethasone has been proven to reduced deaths by one-third in patients on ventilators, the University of Oxford said in a statement on Tuesday.

It reduced fatalities by a fifth among those who received oxygen support.

The finding came from the world’s biggest trial testing existing treatments on Covid-19 patients.

More than 11,500 patients in 175 UK hospitals are part of the trial, and more than 2,100 of them received 6mg of dexamethasone once per day.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson hailed it at the ‘biggest breakthrough yet’ in the UK’s coronavirus fight. 

It’s a startling result,” Kenneth Baillie, an intensive-care physician at the University of Edinburgh, who serves on the steering committee of the trial, told Nature magazine. “It will clearly have a massive global impact.”

South Africa’s pharmaceutical giant Aspen produces dexamethasone injections in South Africa, and its CEO Stephen Saad confirmed to Business Insider SA that there should be sufficient supplies to meet local demand.

“It all depends on where and when we get the surges. We should be fine for South Africa, (as) we make this in South Africa.”

While daily doses of dexamethasone could prevent one in eight ventilated patient deaths and save one out of every 25 patients requiring oxygen, the steroid had no effect on outcomes among those with mild cases of Covid-19 (people not receiving oxygen or ventilation), the study found.

Source: Business Insider SA

Picture Credit: freepik

The new zero-tolerance drunk driving law

Currently in South Africa, it’s still legal to get behind the wheel if your blood-alcohol level is under 0.05g per 100ml.

Once the strict new drunk-driving laws have been passed, drivers won’t be allowed to drink alcohol at all, notes insurer, King Price.

The new bill adopts a zero-tolerance approach to drunk driving by setting the legal blood-alcohol limit for drivers at 0%.

This has serious implications for South African drivers, said King Price’s customer experience partner, Wynand van Vuuren.

If you’re involved in an accident after having even a single drink, you won’t just find yourself on the wrong side of the law, but it can also have a major impact on your insurance.

Insurers have the right to refuse to pay accident claims if the driver’s blood alcohol level is over the legal limit, he said.

This clause is included in almost every car insurance policy in SA. Previously, it was difficult to determine whether people were over the legal limit, and whether their driving ability was in fact impaired.

“The new zero-tolerance approach removes this grey area,” said Van Vuuren.

If you break the law by driving with alcohol in your blood, your insurer will have no obligation to meet your claim.”

If you’re guilty of this offence, it’s also likely that your premium will increase significantly, as you’ll be considered a higher risk, said  Van Vuuren.

In the worst-case scenario, if you’re convicted of drunk driving or have your licence endorsed or suspended, your current insurer may cancel your policy, and you may find it difficult to get car insurance at all in future.

While the new law will potentially reduce the number of accidents caused by drunken driving, it won’t immediately affect premiums, said Van Vuuren.

“If we see fewer accidents due to fewer drunken driving incidents in the longer term, though, we may see premiums coming down due to lower claims costs for insurers.”

The new law won’t see existing polices being altered, as most policies already stipulate that drivers must abide by the law.

Therefore, the 0% legal blood alcohol limit will apply as soon as the new law comes into effect, he further noted.

“King Price clients can add the king’s cab service, which gets the driver and their car home safely when it’s not a good idea to drive. It’s a small additional cost for major peace of mind.

“Or make Uber your friend, or get a designated driver. But make a plan. It’s just not worth taking the risk of getting behind the wheel,” Van Vuuren said.

Source: BusinessTech

Picture Credit: News24

Fuel price increase predicted for July

According to IOL, South African motorists are set to be hit with another hefty fuel price increase from the beginning of July, as international oil prices continue to tick upwards.

The Automobile Association, mid-month data from the Central Energy Fund is pointing towards a petrol price increase of around R1.59 a litre, while diesel looks set to go up by R1.48 and illuminating paraffin by R1.94.

However, the latest daily prices hint that the increases could be slightly less than the above-mentioned, if current trends persist.

“Oil is continuing its march back towards its previous levels in the first half of June, setting the scene for further hefty fuel price hikes going into July,” the AA said.

“The basic fuel price used in South Africa has jumped by eight percent since 1 June, with higher peaks, as international oil prices claw back some of the massive declines of the past four months,” the AA says.

“With world demand expected to continue to increase, South Africans must likewise expect the fuel price to gradually edge back towards pre-Covid-19 levels.”

On the upside, the AA said that it will likely take at least a few months for international oil prices to return to their previous levels, which means that for now at least, motorists do have a bit of a breather.

“South Africans are also benefiting from increasing rand strength, with the local currency having made up 60c against the US dollar since the start of June, and briefly breaching the psychological R17 to the dollar mark,” the AA added.

“In fact, the Rand’s firmer performance in June has offset the fuel price increases by around 36 cents a litre to date.”

Source: IOL

Elsa Joubert, die bekroonde skrywer is oorlede

Elsa Joubert, die bekroonde skrywer is Sondag in Kaapstad oorlede.

Prof. Nico Steytler, haar seun, sê sy ma is gister omstreeks 15h00 in die Mediclinic Kaapstad dood.

Steytler sê sy ma het Woensdag 3 Junie siek geword. Covid-19 is die Saterdag daarna by haar gediagnoseer.

Joubert is die volgende dag in die nabygeleë Mediclinic opgeneem. Sy was in ‘n saal waar slegs Covid-19 pasiënte behandel word. Steytler sê hy kon sy ma besoek die Vrydag voordat sy in die hospitaal opgeneem is en was ook op 8 Junie by haar in die hospitaal.

Hy sê sy ma se siekte en dood is ‘n groot skok.

“Al was sy baie oud, sy was so vol lewe.”

Die Swerfjare van Poppie Nongena het Joubert in 1978 geskryf. Die Roman wat in dertien tale vertaal is, het insae gegee oor die lewe en leefwêreld van stedelike swart mense. Die boek “ is ‘n belangrike stuk hedendaagse geskiedskrywing, opgeteken in ‘n pakkende en strak joernalistiek styl; objektief maar plek-plek so sensitief persoonlik dat dit die leser diep ontroer.”

Van haar ander boeke sluit in, Ons Wag op die Kaptein, Bonga, Missionaris, Die Reise van Isobelle, en haar laaste boek, Spertyd wat sy op die ouderdom van 95 gepubliseer het.

Sy was ‘n inwoner van die Berghof-aftreeoord in Tuine, Kaapstad. Sy het sedert 1998 daar gewoon nadat haar man, Klaas Steytler oorlede is.

In Mei, het Die Burger ‘n brief van Elsa Joubert gepubliseer waarin sy gevra het dat die streng inperkingsmaatreëls vir bejaardes, buigsamer moet wees sodat besoeke toegelaat kan word.

“ Menslik gesproke is ons in die laaste maande en weke van ons lewe. En ons wat in tehuise en inrigtings bly, hoe wonderlik ook al, is totaal van ons familielede afgesny.”

Boodskappe van medelye aan Joubert se familie het gisteraand op sosiale media ingestroom.

Etienne Bloemhof, hoof van fiksie by NB Uitgewers, het gisteraand gesê hy is geskok oor Joubert se dood.

Chris Olwagen, regisseur van die fliek Poppie Nongena sê, wat Joubert so merkwaardig gemaak het, is dat sy ‘n intellektuele reus was, “maar ook ‘n gewone vrou. Sy was hierdie groot gees in ‘n klein lyfie. Sy was ‘n ongelooflike mens.”

Die skrywer Marita van der Vyver het gisteraand op Facebook geskryf,

“Spertyd vir Elsa Joubert. Dit word ‘n nare, nare maand vir legendariese Afrikaanse vroue wat skryf. Sy was ons almal se voorloper. Ek voel verlore vanaand.”

Bron: Die Burger


Postbank forced to replace 12-million bank cards after employees steal master key.

The Postbank is having to replace about 12 million bank cards at a cost of R1 billion after a major security breach that exposes the personal data of millions of social grant beneficiaries and other account holders, the Sunday Times reported yesterday.

The report says the breach resulted from the printing of the bank’s encrypted master key in plain, unencrypted digital language at the Postbank’s old data centre in the Pretoria city centre.

According to a number of internal Postbank reports, the master key was then stolen by employees.

It notes that one of the reports said that the cards would cost about R1 billion to replace.

The master key, a 36-digit code, allows anyone who has it to gain unfettered access to the bank’s systems, and allows them to read and rewrite account balances, and change information and data on any of the bank’s 12-million cards.

Those who have been affected by the breach include between eight million and 10 million beneficiaries who receive social grants from the Postbank every month.

According to the Sunday Times , about one million more Postbank account holders have also been affected. Their personal data is now in the hands of the “criminals” who stole the master key.

An internal Postbank financial crime overview report, dated December, which the Sunday Times also obtained, shows that between March 2018, three months after the master key was generated  and December 2019, the bank recorded about 25 000 fraudulent transactions in which R56 million was stolen from grant beneficiaries.

This money was stolen from social grant cards.

Source: itweb, sundaytimes


Child illness linked to Covid-19

New evidence suggests that the mysterious Kawasaki-like child illness known as multisystem inflammatory syndrome (MIS-C) could be triggered by COVID-19. It is also known as or Paediatric Inflammatory Multi-System Syndrome (PIMS-TS).

MIS-C in children is a condition that causes inflammation in different parts of the body like the heart, lungs, kidneys, brain, skin, eyes, or gastrointestinal organs, according to the Center for Disease Control (CDC).

When it first began emerging in late April/early May, MISC-C or IMS-TS was initially compared to Kawasaki-disease and toxic-shock syndrome.

However, studies have revealed it is a new, distinct illness of its own, and many experts thinking it was related to COVID-19.

In May, the CDC officially announced that MIS-C and COVID-19 are linked.

Doctors believed that MIS-C was not caused by the virus. Rather that the weakened immune system following an infection makes children more susceptible to getting MIS-C.

New research by the University of Birmingham now suggests that COVID-19 could be the cause of MIS-C in children, not just related to it as previously thought.

The results of this test could mean that any child who has had the virus, even if they were asymptomatic, is at risk of developing MIS-C.

Researchers at the University of Birmingham ran antibody tests in children displaying symptoms in line with MIS-C. The CDC describes antibodies as proteins that fights off infection and prevent further infection. Antibody tests check the blood for the presence of antibodies, which can show if someone has had a viral infection in the past.

All children tested in the research process came back negative for the SARS-CoV-2 virus but all had high levels of anti-SARS-CoV-2 antibodies.

This shows they had COVID-19 at some point in the last few weeks or months but recovered. They then developed MISC-C symptoms much later.

Based on these results, researchers now believe that antibody testing can be used as an effective means of diagnosing MIS-C/PIMS-TS, even if the virus is not directly detectable in the patient.

This testing allows for rapid diagnosis and early treatment, which could make a big difference in how the disease develops.

“By focusing on assay development using academic principles, we have designed a sensitive antibody test that can be used to detect exposure to SARS-CoV-2 infections. The test will be used to understand how many people have suffered from COVID-19 in our communities but we have found another use identifying PIMS-TS in these sick children,” said Dr. Alex Richter, lead researcher and Consultant Immunologist at the University of Birmingham’s Institute of Institute of Immunology and Immunotherapy.

The CDC warns that MISC-C can be serious and even deadly in children, but most who are diagnosed will recover with medical care.

Symptoms to look out for in your child include:

  1. persistent fever
  2. irritability or sluggishness
  3. severe abdominal pain
  4. diarrhea
  5. vomiting
  6. rash
  7. red or pink eyes
  8. enlarged lymph node gland on one side of the neck
  9. red cracked lips or red tongue
  10. swollen hands and feet

Source: capetownetc

9-year-old inspires adults, raises thousands for humans in need

9-year-old Amelia made her community proud by raising thousands to feed the local homeless in her community; she made a massive difference!

There is never a moment in life that goes by, that you can’t use to make a difference. We have learned that you can never be too young or too old to change a life. Amelia is proof of that and she is changing more than just one life!

9-year-old Amelia had a dream. She saw the need for food for the homeless and also knew children in hospitals needed toys to stay busy. Amelia wrote her mom a letter, asking if they could please do something to help. Her mother agreed but discussed that they focus on the homeless for the lockdown and the children in the hospital come Christmas.

Together they started raising funds and Amelia’s story spread the globe. Amelia was able to raise nearly R15,000 which they used to make food parcels for the homeless.

“Amelia wrote me an amazing letter and expressed how she wanted to help a children’s hospital and the homeless. She is very passionate about her cause and her very first donation left her in tears. Since lockdown is now a reality her focus is on the homeless for now, making food parcels that can be donated to a facility to hand out or to the few wonderful people we have met on our journey to work or school. Amelia would like to create an impact at a hospital where she can donate toys around Christmas time however should logistics not allow she would like to gift children less fortunate with Christmas gifts. For now, her goal is to feed as many hungry people as she can.

Amelia is only 9 years old. She is little but mighty! We are very proud parents and want to thank everyone that has asked for a link to donate and to the individuals who have already sent her items, vouchers and donations.

Amelia would like to show young people that it is possible to make a difference in your community.

She wants to help people in lockdown that are facing difficulties. As she says: its Lockdown and we should be inside but there are people stuck outside with nothing”

You can find her crowdfund here.



Source: Goodthingsguy

Winter flu season is struggling to take hold.

As masks and physical distancing become part of everyday living in South Africa, it looks like the traditional winter flu season is struggling to take hold. The lockdown has also kept the virus from spreading.

Flu cases usually start to rise sharply around mid-to-late April, but as of end-May there was still little sign of it according to the National Institute for Communicable Diseases, which collects data from sentinel sites that track respiratory diseases around the country.

The NICD says while cases of two flu strains were detected in the Western Cape, the number of cases has been falling since the first week of April.

“There has been no influenza circulating from all other provinces in 2020.”

There’s an even more marked delay in the onset of seasonal respiratory syncytial virus (RSV), another common pathogen that causes flu-like symptoms, and which can be fatal in young children. South Africa’s RSV season usually starts at the end of February, but by end-May it, too, was nowhere in sight

Flu normally kills over 10,000 South Africans and costs the economy billions of rands every year due to the deaths and absenteeism from sick days. If fewer people catch flu, the country will have a better chance of fighting Covid-19, experts wrote in April.

The drop in international travel could also have contributed, said Richard Lessells, an infectious disease specialist and group leader at the KwaZulu-Natal Research Innovation and Sequencing Platform (KRISP). Seasonal flu has to be introduced into the country by travellers, much like Covid-19 was, he said.

“If there’s nobody coming into the country, you won’t have those feeder events.”

Walaza cautions that people avoiding going to the doctor during lockdown could have contributed to less flu and RSV being detected.

There’s also evidence from other parts of the world to suggest that physical distancing and lockdowns can stop the flu.

The northern hemisphere’s flu season ended about six weeks earlier than normal this year, Nature reported last week.

In Hong Kong, which registered its first Covid-19 case on 23 January, this year’s flu season was 63% shorter than usual.

Source: Business Insider.


Private hospitals will take Covid-19 patients from public sector

The rate of R16 000 for high care beds is below their costs, Netcare and Life Healthcare told Parliament.

The public sector will refer patients to private hospitals

Private healthcare groups told both houses of Parliament’s health committees that the rate the state will pay to take patients from the public sector is less than the cost to them – but they will take these patients.

Representatives from Life Healthcare and Netcare made presentations to the committees on Wednesday.

Matthew Prior, Life Healthcare’s funder relations and health policy executive, said that, after negotiations, the private healthcare sector agreed to take patients from the public sector at a cost of R16 000 per bed, per day.

He said this would not cover their stock used on patients in intensive care units.

“It is not a sustainable rate,” he said.

He said the public sector will decide which patients go to private hospitals.

“Dealing with this Covid pandemic is so difficult,” Life Healthcare CEO Adam Pyle said. “The biggest challenge we’ll have is staff capacity and beds capacity.”

He said infections come in waves. They’ll move staff between provinces, and have already moved staff to the Eastern and Western Cape provinces.

Netcare CEO Richard Friedland also said the tariff the state will pay is lower than their costs, but they have accepted it in good faith.

‘Hospitals are for sick people’

“We will take anyone based on their need at the time,” he said.

He said people who are infected, but can cope on their own while self-isolating, need to stay out of hospitals.

“Hospitals are for sick people,” he said.

On 9 June, Life Healthcare had 301 patients with Covid-19 in their hospitals.

On the same date, Netcare had 664 admissions to their hospitals.

Both companies said they have provided their staff with personal protective equipment (PPE) and have also made counselling available.

At Life Healthcare, 313 of its 16 376 employees in South Africa have been infected. The majority, 199, are nurses, and the most infections, 192, are from the Eastern Cape.

At Netcare, 232 of their approximately 21 000 staff members have been infected.

Two staff members, one from Gauteng and the other from the Western Cape, have died.

Friedland said their biggest concern was the community spread of the virus among the staff.

He said the staff were safe in the hospital, but at risk when travelling to work and in their communities.

Source: News24

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