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The South Africa government has announced that the state schools will close for four weeks from Monday as part of measures to combat a surge in the number of coronavirus cases.

President Cyril Ramaphosa stated that the development is important so as to ensure that schools did not become sites of transmission at a time when coronavirus cases in South Africa are rising at one of the fastest rates in the world.

Recall that older students in primary and secondary schools returned to schools on 6 July.

President Ramaphosa added that the current academic year will be extended beyond the end of 2020 as a result of the disruptions caused by the pandemic.

“We have taken a deliberately cautious approach to keep schools closed during a period when the country is expected to experience its greatest increase in infections,” he stated.

The health authorities in South Africa has disclosed a 24-hour increase in the cases of coronavirus deaths with a record of 572 deaths on Wednesday .

The new deaths announced on brings the total number of fatalities to 5,940.

It was also disclosed that almost half of the country’s total number of deaths have been reported in the Western Cape province.

Although, the majority of confirmed coronavirus cases are however in Gauteng province, the country’s financial hub and epicentre of the pandemic.

Another set of miners have been called back to South Africa to resume their jobs. The group is said to consist of 300 Mozambican miners.

Most of the mine workers were said to have been forced to return to their country because of coronavirus restrictions.

Juca Bata, the spokesman for Mozambique’s National Migration Service said all miners were tested for Covid-19 before departure and will also be tested on the South African side.

South African mines are reopening since restrictions that were placed cause of the pandemic have now been eased.

South Africa’s top taxi association has begun a strike to protest against government’s relief package.

Transport Minister Fikile Mbalula disclosed that the taxi industry rejected the government’s relief offer of over 1.1bn South African rands which was intended to help the industry recover from the effects of the lockdown.

The association stated that the amount was not enough, but the minister says the government will not increase it.

Taxis in Gauteng province, home of the commercial hub Johannesburg, went on strike on Monday morning which inconvenienced commuters.

Photo credit: Supplied

A group of armed men dressed as healthcare workers have stolen a huge sum of money from a supermarket in the South African city of Pietermaritzburg.

Local media reported that the men pretended to be Covid-19 health inspectors when they entered Checkers supermarket at the Scottsville Mall. They were seen wearing masks, face shields, gloves and white lab jackets.

The thieves reportedly stole more than 200,000 South African rand ($12,000) from the pension payout point while pensioners were still standing outside. No shots were fired and no injuries were reported following the incident.

However, investigations are under way after Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) destined for three districts in KwaZulu-Natal to aid in the fight against coronavirus went missing earlier this week.

As South Africans are currently on day five of a 21-day nationwide lockdown that was imposed last week to prevent the spread of COVID-19. South Africa’s President, Cyril Ramaphosa, on Monday evening, launched a mass screening program for coronavirus.

He stated that 10,000 field workers would be visiting homes to screen people, and those found with symptoms would be quarantined either in their homes or in hospital

The president stated that the program was a new phase in the fight against the spread of the virus.

The government is also said to be  developing a technology that will help in tracking down all people who may have contacted people infected with the virus.

South Africa has recorded 1,326 cases of Covid-19 and three deaths so far.

A report from Bloomberg has revealed that Nigeria has overtaken South Africa and is now Africa’s largest economy.

The All Progressives Congress (APC) yesterday expressed happiness over Nigeria becoming Africa’s biggest economy. The ruling party noted that the achievement was not a fluke but a product of deliberate practices and policies of President Muhammadu Buhari’s administration. 

In a statement in Abuja by its National Publicity Secretary, Mallam Lanre Issa-Onilu, APC noted that, “since the Nigerian economy exited recession in 2017, the country’s economic growth has not been a fluke but a result of deliberate practices and policies of the President Buhari administration, which has increased transparency in governance, diversification of the economy away from oil, improved fiscal management, and a healthy protectionist approach, which has aided the growth and increased the capacity of domestic producers and in turn created jobs”.

The party stressed that despite the dwindling resources resulting from the fall in oil prices, the country had continued to witness economic growth.

“The fact that we are making commendable progress with all the challenges shows this government is doing the right thing. There is no doubt about the determination of the Buhari government to continue to take the right steps to create jobs, grow the economy, create a secure environment, massively develop our infrastructure and develop our other resources through focused and well-reasoned diversification policies,” APC said.

The party advised the country’s youths to embrace and support government’s finance, ease of doing business, and other services to enable them to release their latent creative energies.

FW de Klerk, the last white man to lead South Africa, has apologized over whether or not apartheid was a “crime against humanity” statement, but the it has revealed old wounds of blacks in South Africa

Mr De Klerk’s apology was an attempt to calm a fortnight of increasingly furious debate after he made comments that many interpreted as an attempt to rewrite history and play down the seriousness of apartheid.

In a statement issued through the De Klerk Foundation, the 83-year-old expressed regret for “the confusion, anger, and hurt” his remarks might have caused.

Two weeks ago, in an interview with the national broadcaster, SABC, the former president said he was “not fully agreeing” with the presenter who asked him to confirm that apartheid, the legalised discrimination against non-white people, was a crime against humanity.

Mr De Klerk went on to acknowledge that it was a crime, and to apologise profusely for his role in it, but he insisted that apartheid was responsible for relatively few deaths and that it should not be put in the same category of “genocide” or “crimes against humanity”.

At first, South Africa seemed to shrug. Mr De Klerk, who shared the 1993 Nobel Peace Prize with Nelson Mandela after helping to negotiate an end to apartheid, is a peripheral figure in the country these days, and his potentially polarizing comments seem to pass unnoticed.

But that changed last Thursday when, as a former head of state, he attended parliament for President Cyril Ramaphosa’s annual State of the Nation address.

Members of the opposition Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) party interrupted the president and demanded that Mr De Klerk be removed from the chamber.

“We have a murderer in the House,” said EFF leader Julius Malema. He said that Mr De Klerk was an “apartheid apologist… with blood on his hands”.

An hour-and-a-half later, President Ramaphosa was finally able to begin his speech, and the EFF’s aggressive delaying tactics were widely condemned – by the governing ANC and other opposition parties – as an outrageous, shameful stunt.

The African Union (AU) has ended the summit, with leader vowing that the 55-member bloc will play a greater role in ensuring that conflicts are resolved and work collectively to unlock the continent’s economic potential.

South African President Cyril Ramaphosa took over as AU Chair from his Egyptians counterpart, Abel Fattah el-Sisi. He was elected by the AU Assembly of Heads of State and Government for a one-year term, with responsibilities including representing the continent at various international forums such as the G20.

President Ramaphosa said  “Tackling issues such as gender equality, climate change and boosting commerce through the creation of a new continental free trade area are also high on the AU agenda for 2020”.

Keeping with the summit theme of Silencing the Guns, the South African President spoke of an Africa “that is prosperous and at peace with itself” 

Commenting on the mood in Addis Ababa, the Ethiopian capital that hosted the summit, South African Ambassador Mxolisi Nkosi said: “There is indeed a lot of excitement and expectation about South Africa being at the helm of the AU.”

President Ramaphosa, having taken over as the AU chair has been quick to identify Libya and South Sudan as the two conflicts he wants to focus on during his tenure.The bloc has long sought a more prominent role in the efforts to resolve Libya’s long-running conflict, with certain member states believing it could provide the legitimacy needed for a multilateral peace process.

On Monday, the latest attempt at an HIV vaccine was announced to have has failed,  researchers made this known that they have stopped giving the experimental shots in a major study

The study had enrolled more than 5,400 people since 2016 in South Africa, a country with one of the world’s highest HIV rates. Last month, monitors checked how the study was going and found 129 HIV infections had occurred among the vaccine recipients compared with 123 among those given a dummy shot, according to the U.S. National Institutes of Health.

Dr Anthony Fauci NIH infectious diseases chief stated that “An HIV vaccine is essential to end the global pandemic and we hoped this vaccine candidate would work. Regrettably, it does not,” 

There were no safety concerns, but NIH, which sponsored the study, agreed that vaccinations should stop. The experimental shot was based on the only vaccine ever shown to offer even modest protection against HIV, one that was deemed 31% effective in Thailand.

That wasn’t good enough for real-world use but gave scientists a starting point. They beefed up the shot and adapted it to the HIV subtype that’s common in southern Africa. Two other large studies, in several countries, are underway testing a different approach to a possible HIV vaccine.