NATIONAL NEWS - As of Wednesday, 17 February 2021, the cumulative number of detected Covid-19 cases is 1,496,439 with 2,320 new cases identified, Health Minister Dr Zweli Mkhize has confirmed.
165 more Covid-19 related deaths were reported, with 15 from Eastern Cape, 22 from Free State, 76 from Gauteng, 14 from Kwa-Zulu Natal (KZN), 4 from Mpumalanga, 9 from Northern Cape and 25 from Western Cape.
This brings the total number of Covid-19 related deaths to 48,478.
Recoveries now stand at 1,399,829 representing a recovery rate of 93,5%.
Meanwhile, a total of 8,772,743 tests have been completed with 35,413 new tests conducted since the last report.
These are the latest developments in the coronavirus crisis:
Japan vaccination drive begins
Five months ahead of the Tokyo Olympics, Japan kicks off its vaccination drive at a Tokyo hospital, with a plan to initially give Pfizer-BioNTech shots to 40,000 healthcare workers.
In South Africa too
South Africa launches its vaccination programme using a Johnson & Johnson vaccine, after a delayed start caused by concerns about the ability of the Oxford-AstraZeneca formula to shield against a widespread variant of the virus.
Major cities in Australia and New Zealand lift stay-at-home orders for millions of residents after successfully using snap lockdowns to quash outbreaks of virulent strains of the virus.
Authorities say swift action in Melbourne and Auckland helped contain flare-ups of the highly contagious UK variant, contrasting with the less rigorous approach taken in Europe and other infection hotspots.
Italy’s new Prime Minister Mario Draghi pledges to use “all means” to fight the pandemic that has devastated the country and says it presents an opportunity for Italy to rebuild as it did after World War II.
Citing the danger of new strains spreading in Europe, Slovakia tightens border controls as it battles one of the highest virus mortality rates in the world.
Gaza gets first doses
An initial batch of 1,000 vaccine doses donated by Russia will enter Gaza, Israel’s defence ministry says, after it had blocked a shipment earlier this week.
An attempt by Taiwan to secure five million doses of vaccine fails at the last minute because of “political pressure”, Taipei’s health minister says, raising fears China could be creating roadblocks for the inoculation drive.
Swedes scrap soft approach
Sweden, known for its softer approach to the pandemic, is preparing to use new legislation to close gyms, restaurants and hair salons ahead of a feared third wave of virus infections.
Spain debt soars
Spain’s public debt jumps to 1.31 trillion euros ($1.59 trillion) at end-2020, equal to 117.1 percent of national output, central Bank of Spain data show, as the government boosted spending to tackle the economic fallout from the pandemic.
Uzbeks get Sputnik
Uzbekistan becomes the latest country to certify Russia’s Sputnik V vaccine for mass use, saying it plans to purchase one million doses for its population of 34 million.
Zanzibar’s first vice president Seif Sharif Hamad, who led the island’s opposition for three decades, dies after he had been hospitalised for over three weeks with coronavirus.
2.4 million deaths
The virus has caused at least 2,419,730 deaths since the outbreak emerged in China in December 2019, according to a tally from official sources compiled by AFP on Wednesday.
The United States is the worst-affected country with 488,081 deaths followed by Brazil with 240,940, Mexico with 175,986, India with 155,913 and Britain with 118,195.