SA records 3 785 new COVID-19 cases

South Africa on Tuesday recorded 3 785 new COVID-19 cases, the National Institute for Communicable Diseases (NICD) said.

The figure brought the total number of laboratory-confirmed cases to 3 802 198. The increase represented a 17.6% positivity rate.

“Today, the National Department of Health (NDoH) reports seven deaths and of these, two occurred in the past 24 – 48 hours. This brings the total fatalities to 100 377 to date,” the NICD said on Tuesday.

To date, 24 527 102 tests had been conducted in both the public and private sectors.

A provincial breakdown of the statistics revealed that a majority of new cases on Tuesday were from Gauteng (45%), followed by KwaZulu-Natal (28%).

“The Western Cape accounted for 12%, Free State 5%, Eastern Cape 4%; Mpumalanga and North West 2% each, and Limpopo and the Northern Cape each accounted for 1% of today’s new cases,” the statistics reveal.

The institute said the proportion of positive new cases/total new tested on Tuesday was lower than Monday’s (21.0%).

“The seven-day average is (20.6%) today, and is lower than yesterday (20.7%). The seven-day moving average daily number of cases has increased,” the NICD said.

On hospital admissions, the NICD said these had increased by 68 in the past 24 hours. - SAnews.gov.za

Multiple factors contribute to load shedding – Eskom

Eskom says stage two load shedding was implemented due to depleted capacity caused by generator breakdowns, power station trips, the slow return to service of units, as well as higher demand for electricity as the colder weather starts to settle in.

As a result of these factors, the power utility was unable to feed the entire demand for electricity on Tuesday.

Eskom Chief Executive Andre de Ruyter told a media briefing on Wednesday that the electricity supplier is working to ensure that load shedding is suspended as soon as it is possible to do so.

He explained that the power utility’s capacity to deliver electricity currently falls short of the country’s demands.

“We have a deficit between our demand and our available generating capacity, hence the reason for us to implement stage two load shedding. Obviously also bearing in mind that we do not wish to deplete all of our reserves in continuously meeting excess demand because then… we will run out of diesel to fire up our open cycle gas turbines... and we will also run out of capacity at our pump storage systems. These are very important back-up systems in order to prevent the far worse scenario of a total system blackout.

“We are working very hard to return units to service. We are doing our level best to accelerate [suspending load shedding] but unfortunately where we are right now, we have no alternative… based on our anticipated return to service of major units which will alleviate the generation capacity constraint,” De Ruyter said.

The power utility’s Chief Operating Officer, Jan Oberholzer, explained that the power stations ran into major problems during and after the long weekend.

These challenges include:

  • Trips at Arnot and Duvha power stations which were returned to service.
  • The tripping of some four units at Matla, Kusile, Matimba and Duvha power stations, which were returned to service by Monday midday.
  • On Monday, at least eight units tripped at Lethabo, Tutuka, Hendrina, Ingula and Matla power stations – removing at least 3 300MW of capacity from the grid.

“So [because] Monday was a public holiday and the demand for electricity was low, we managed to supply electricity demand…but we still needed 16 open cycle gas turbines to take us through the evening peak.

“Unfortunately this trend continued into Tuesday morning… with a further four generators tripping or being shut down due to breakdowns. An additional 2000MW. So within 36 hours, the total net loss generating capacity to the system was about 4 200MW,” Oberholzer said.

The COO added that the power utility is now making use of emergency reserves due to higher winter demand.

“Despite the implementation of stage two load shedding, we are still using extensive emergency reserves to go through the morning peaks as well as the evening peaks,” Oberholzer said.

Eskom is also facing challenges with at risk generating units described by Acting Generation managing director, Rhulani Mathebula, as “limping” units.

“Currently, we still have around 4 500MW that is at risk. These are units that we have kept on load that are limping with various defects. Our main concern remains over the past weekend… We experienced various breakdowns and many of them we have returned.

“The situation remains that we are still running a very constrained system where every challenge that we experience actually results in severe constraints. So the 4 500MW is something that we want to address. Currently, we have a unit at Kriel and Majuba that have got tube leaks but we resolved to keep those units on load because we cannot afford to take them off. The unfortunate thing is when those units then take themselves off as the defect deteriorates,” he said.

Mathebula added, however, that there are a number of generating units expected back in service over the next few days which will relieve pressure on the system.

“The forecast currently is returning the units that are down…we have three machines that are coming [back today]. We have eight machines, to the tune of 3 700MW that we will be bringing [back] between today and over the weekend. That should enable us to deal with [loadshedding],” Mathebula said. – SAnews.gov.za

Comprehensive sexuality education key to prevent vulnerabilities in young people

The realisation of sexuality education and sexual reproductive health rights for young people is key for the prevention of HIV, early and unintended pregnancies (EUP) and gender-based violence (GBV).

Basic Education Minister Angie Motshekga said that the prevention of these vulnerabilities among the youth will help countries in making progress in their youth development agendas.

The Minister was delivering the opening address at the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization’s (UNESCO) Our Rights, Our Lives and Our Future (O3) and O3 plus 2021 Annual Review and Partners’ Meeting in Fourways, Johannesburg.

The meeting is aimed at reviewing progress from the 33 programme countries in the Eastern and Southern Africa and West Central Africa.

The Our Rights, Our Lives, Our Future programme supports delivery of good quality comprehensive sexuality education (CSE) that empowers adolescents and young people (AYP) and builds agency, while developing the skills, knowledge, attitudes, and competencies required for preventing HIV, reducing EUPs, and eliminating GBV.

The objectives of the programme among others are to secure and sustain strong political commitment and support for adolescents’ and young people’s access to comprehensive sexuality education and sexual and reproductive health services across sub-Saharan Africa.

The O3 programme is run in partnership with ministries of education across the 33 countries in which the programme is implemented. It benefits from the generous support of the governments of Sweden, Ireland, Norway, and France, as well as the Packard Foundation.

Minister Motshekga added that the prevention will also contribute towards attainment of:

  • Sustainable Development Goals 3, 4, and 5;
  • Regional commitments such as the Eastern and Southern Africa and West Central Africa Commitment;
  • The African Union Action Plan and the Southern Africa Development Community Strategy for Sexual Reproductive Health and others.

“It is significant that we are here to review, reflect on how the Our Rights, Our Lives, Our Future Programme has contributed to the promotion of the rights of young people to education, health and wellbeing in our respective countries in the last five years.

“We are all cognisant of how the programme has supported and enhanced our efforts in ensuring that all adolescents and young people have access to sexuality education and sexual reproductive health rights,” she said on Wednesday.

Motshekga emphasised that education is a protective factor and evidence has showed this especially in the face of the COVID-19 pandemic and its ramifications.

She said that children being and staying in school to complete their education is truly vital and protect them from the afore-mentioned vulnerabilities.

“To ensure that our adolescents and young people become champions of their lives and be responsible citizens that are empowered to contribute to the development of their world, achieving positive educational outcomes is extremely critical, and this is where the O3 Programme has been very beneficial,” she said.

For South Africa in particular, the Minister said that the country is thankful to have been one of the countries that has been receiving support from UNESCO through this programme.

She said that the country can attest that it has been able to up its game in strengthening the implementation of sexuality education and access to sexual reproductive health services and rights in schools. 

Challenges

“We are making great strides even though we continue to experience challenges when it comes to the sexual reproductive health and wellbeing of our adolescents and youth,” Motshekga said.

The Minister said that the challenges include:

New HIV infections reported to be at about 1300 per week among adolescent girls and young women (AGYW) specifically;

Concerning numbers of births among adolescent girls, with 132 000 deliveries reported by the Health Department by young girls between ages of 10 and 19 in 2021 alone;

Gender Based violence against children having risen during COVID 19 lockdown, with the President calling it a second pandemic.

“We are however happy to say despite the above complex challenges, we have hope that we will achieve better education for all our children, and eliminate these social ills in order to report good progress, as a country towards Sustainable Development Goal 4 – that of attaining inclusive and quality education for all by 2030,” she said.

Progress

Motshekga went on to share the strides that have been made in the past five years, with the support of UNESCO and other Partners such as Global Fund, United States Agency for International Development (USAID) and others.

The DBE Policy on the Prevention of HIV, STIs and TB (2017) has been strengthened to improve implementation of comprehensive sexuality education (CSE) with linkages to sexual reproductive health services (SRHS) in schools.

She said that this has led to the development of the Scripted Lesson Plans (SLPs) for CSE which is now being rolled out in schools in Life Orientation and Life Skills Subjects.

In 2021, the DBE finalised and gazetted the Policy for the Prevention and Management of Learner Pregnancy in Schools which seek to increase efforts to prevent early and unintended pregnancies.

Though much has been achieved, the Minister said that challenges continue to exist, thus as they review progress, the country also looks forward to learn from other countries.

“Our young people who are our most precious asset for the future of our countries and regions still need us to do more and to fast-track the agenda towards realising the SDG goals and our efforts to achieve an HIV free generation by 2030,” she said. – SAnews.gov.za

State-of-the-art factory a concrete public-private partnership

President Cyril Ramaphosa says the public sector and private business can come together to form productive partnerships which can accelerate South Africa’s economy and create jobs.

The President was speaking at the opening of the Corobrik Kwastina Brick Manufacturing factory at Driefontein, in Gauteng, on Tuesday.

The factory is a manifestation of an initial R800 million investment pledge made by the company during the 2019 South African Investment Conference.

That pledge has now grown to R1 billion with the company pledging a further R200 million to expand its KwaZulu-Natal based concrete facility.

“At the 4th South Africa Investment Conference in March this year, I said that we want to see investment commitments fast being turned into projects. We want to see foundations being sunk, to hear the sound of bricks being laid and seeing cranes dotting the skyline. We want to see factories being built and production lines being expanded. We want to see people being employed and skills being developed.

“And here today at Kwastina we are seeing the fulfilment of such investment commitments. Here today, we are seeing the results of the R800 million investment pledged by Corobrik at the 2019 South Africa Investment Conference. This investment is an example of the productive partnerships that have been forged between business and government to grow our economy and create jobs,” the President said.

The President highlighted that the fact that the company is a local one supports government efforts to empower and support local enterprises.

“[Corobrik] has made a significant contribution to our efforts to extract greater value from our natural resources, by making its bricks from raw materials extracted from South African soil. This is an important part of government’s efforts to support localisation, supplier and enterprise development, as well as empowerment.

“As we proceed with the implementation of our infrastructure plan, the demand for building materials will grow substantially. It is our intention that as much of these materials as is possible should be sourced locally,” he said.

President Ramaphosa hailed the local company for doing well despite the devastating and detrimental impact COVID-19 has had on the South African economy.

“We are an economy that was devastated by COVID-19. Much as we sought to manage COVID-19 and navigate our way around its dangerous paths, we still lost two million jobs. For an economy like ours which was precariously positioned over a number of years to lose two million jobs in just a twelve month period is quite a devastation.

“And we are very pleased that as we begin to recover, we have companies like Corobrik who are living up to the commitments they made and are creating jobs and making sure that our economy moves forward. Corobrik is making a vital contribution – in a very literal sense – to rebuilding South Africa’s economy,” President Ramaphosa said. – SAnews.gov.za

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