The Department of Basic Education has announced that the re-opening of the country’s schools has been postponed by 2 weeks. Schools were scheduled to re-open on 27 January, but will now, only re-open for pupils on 15 February.

Deputy Minister of Basic Education, Reginah Mhaule, says teachers will have to report for duty on 1 February.

On the issue of independent/private schools, the Department says it will persuade the association of private schools to delay the opening of schools and for those who are open, to close, in line with the recommendation of schools to open on 15 February.

Early Childhood Development Centres, who are ready to open, will be allowed to do so before 15 February.

 

The African Vaccine Acquisition Task Team (AVATT) – established by African Union Chair President Cyril Ramaphosa – has reported to a special meeting of the AU Bureau of the Assembly that it has secured a provisional 270 million vaccine doses for African countries, with at least 50 million being available for the crucial period of April to June 2021.

The vaccines will be supplied by Pfizer, AstraZeneca (through an independent licensee, Serum Institute of India) and Johnson & Johnson.

These efforts complement the COVAX facility, a World Health Organisation and Gavi Vaccine Alliance initiative to help low- and middle-income countries secure access to vaccines on a fair and equitable basis.

AVATT, a 10-member team drawn from across the continent, was established in August 2020 to ensure that the African continent would be able to secure sufficient vaccine doses to achieve herd immunity.

President Ramaphosa said: “From the onset of this pandemic, our focus as a continent has been on collaboration and collective effort. We have held steadfastly to the principle that no country should be left behind.

“With this in mind, we have not only campaigned vigorously for changes through all the available international forums, but we have taken the additional step to independently secure vaccines using our own limited resources as member states.

“As a result of our own efforts we have so far secured a commitment of a provisional amount of 270 million vaccines from three major suppliers: Pfizer, AstraZeneca (through Serum Institute of India) and Johnson & Johnson.”

All 270 million vaccine doses will be made available this year with at least 50 million being available for the crucial period of April to June 2021.

While the COVAX initiative is vital to Africa’s response, the African Union is concerned that the COVAX volumes to be released between February and June may not extend beyond the needs of frontline health care workers, and may thus not be enough to contain the ever-increasing toll of the pandemic in Africa.

Another challenge is that the target of 600 million doses from COVAX will cover only about 300 million people across the African continent, which is only about 20% of the population.

Scientists at the Africa Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (Africa CDC) have advised that we need to reach at least 60% of the population to substantially slow the spread of the disease.

The AVATT team continues to engage other suppliers to secure more vaccines.

Given the virulent nature of the COVID pandemic, it is clear that a threat to one nation and continent is a threat to all.

To successfully eradicate the global threat of the disease, it is critical that a majority of citizens of all nations get urgent and equitable access to the COVID-19 vaccines as soon as possible.

President Ramaphosa said: “I wish to commend the members of the Africa Vaccine Acquisition Task Team, Afreximbank, Africa CDC and all those who have been working tirelessly to secure these vaccines for the people of Africa. There is a long road ahead, but as Africa we are now seeing progress in our shared effort to defeat this disease.”

Sometimes we like to think that we live in harmony with nature. Sometimes we like to think we’re safe in the city. Sometimes nature likes to remind us that we should watch our backs.

 

 

Lindy was trying to enjoy a quiet lunch, but one of the infamous V&A Waterfront seagulls had other ideas:

Based on your stories, it seems like birds have created a lot of mistrust

Bats are technically mammals…but they still have wings!

We all know how mischievous baboons can be in the Western Cape, but the monkeys in Bali seem to be a lot more cunning:

But once again. We hear again about birds. Not even the humble guineafowl  will give us peace.

A mother whose baby was delivered by emergency C-section at only 25 weeks while she was unconscious and on ventilator support for COVID-19, was overjoyed to meet her baby boy for the first time in the neonatal intensive care unit (NICU) at Netcare N1 City Hospital in Goodwood, Cape Town.

Their emotional meeting followed after the hospital had to search for the mother, who spent a heartbroken Christmas mistakenly assuming her baby had been born too early to survive.

“When they showed me my baby, I was crying because I was so happy, I just couldn’t believe it. He is alive,” Nosipho Nkantini of Eerste River, a professional nurse in the public sector, recalls of meeting her baby on 4 January, some three weeks after he came into the world on 17 December.

“It was like a miracle, and I have decided to name him Oyena, which means ‘the one chosen by God’.

In early December, when she was only about halfway through her pregnancy, Nosipho developed symptoms of COVID-19. She contacted her general practitioner, who initially did not suspect she had the virus and instead prescribed antibiotics.

“I went for a pregnancy check-up, and I suddenly felt very short of breath. I had a rapid COVID-19 test, and it came back negative. Still, I couldn’t breathe and it was terrifying. I couldn’t have X-rays or certain treatments for my symptoms because I was pregnant. My second COVID-19 test came back positive.”

She was transferred to Netcare N1 City Hospital and soon after arrival lost consciousness and was placed on a ventilator in the hospital’s ‘red’ zone dedicated to the care of COVID-19 positive patients. “From then I can’t remember anything until I woke up days later, when I was told that I had suffered complications and my baby had been delivered by emergency C-section,” Nosipho says.

“They told me my baby is in the NICU, but I was so overwhelmed. Apart from the fact that I was still very weak recovering from COVID, I previously lost a baby who was delivered at 28 weeks, so I was extremely traumatised imagining this happening again.”

When Nospiho was well enough to be discharged, her baby still required highly specialised life support and care in the NICU. Unfortunately, during her emergency admission, the contact details for Nosipho and her next-of-kin were outdated and efforts to reach her became increasingly urgent.

Social worker Ronel Grobler was enlisted to assist in reaching the baby’s mother, but the festive season added to the difficulties as they reached out to doctors and their staff – many of whom were on holiday – in an attempt to get hold of her. “We were very concerned about Nosipho, and when all else failed we contacted the local police, who promised to assist us in the search.”

Meanwhile, Nosipho was in despair. “At home, I was too scared to phone the hospital because I had convinced myself my baby had died, and I couldn’t bear to have my worst fears confirmed. Christmas without him was terrible, I was so, so stressed,” Nosipho says.

“When the police arrived at my home, I thought they were coming to tell me that my baby had died. I could not believe it when they told me my baby boy is fine and he is waiting for me in the hospital. It was such a big relief, and afterwards the police said, ‘we didn’t mean to scare you’.”

Dr Ricky Dippenaar, a neonatologist who practises at Netcare N1 City Hospital, says that Nosipho’s baby boy – who at that stage had yet to be named – was very much alive, although he was born so prematurely. “Initially, he had a bit of a stormy course, as he was born at only 25 weeks’ gestation, and also because his mother had been so ill with COVID-19 while he was in the womb.”

“Thankfully the tiny baby tested negative for COVID-19, which is often the case with babies born to COVID-19 positive mothers, however, the mother’s COVID can still impact the unborn baby. He has made good progress, and is taking full feeds and continues to gain weight.”

Dr Dippenaar explains that many mothers whose babies need to be cared for in a NICU environment experience ‘double separation’. “Double separation is when the mother cannot hold her baby and can no longer feel the baby inside her. Psychologically this is very tough, and in this case, it was further compounded by the mother’s history and traumatic COVID-19 experience.”

After Nosipho completed her isolation period for COVID-19 she was finally able to see her baby for the first time on 4 January. “I was so happy but at the same time it was very difficult not being able to hold him at first. The staff in the NICU were saying he’s a miracle baby, and we hope that he will soon grow strong enough so take him home.”

“I am so grateful to all the doctors and the hospital staff who cared for my baby and I, and for bringing us together. As a healthcare worker myself, I am especially thankful to all who are on the frontline of caring for people with COVID-19, and I owe my life to them.”

She extended special thanks to gynaecologist Dr Bedwill Jentel, physician Dr Chris Greyling, neonatologist, Dr Dippenaar, paediatric intensivist Dr Shetil Nana and the neonatology team at the hospital. She and the social worker both expressed appreciation to the Kleinvlei Police Station for their prompt assistance and their vital role in uniting mother and child.

Nosipho appealed to the public to take COVID-19 seriously and do everything possible to prevent its spread. “I am a professional nurse, and as I was at high risk for severe COVID-19 because I am diabetic, my employer moved me to an office role, where I was part of the tracking and tracing team assisting COVID-19 patients and their contacts to help fight the spread of the coronavirus,” Nosipho says.

“This virus moves so fast, and it can have devastating effects. By the time someone in the family becomes sick, often the virus has already infected their loved ones and the people around them. COVID-19 is real, and we must protect each other by following all the precautions.”

Grab your leather pants, adjust your shoulder pads, pull up your legwarmers, slap on your raybans and get ready to Moon walk.

 

This weekend, it’s all about the 80’s. As we countdown the Top 200 hits of the 80s Saturday and Sunday from 9 am to 4 pm. The top 200 hits of the 80s will be featuring your favourite artists like Michael Jackson, Madonna, A-Ha, Eurythmics, Prince, Whitney Houston, Duran Duran and many more.