The South African government has on Monday announced it will close all its land borders in an effort to curb the spread of the deadly novel coronavirus in the country.
Making the announcement, the country’s president Cyril Ramaphosa in a televised address said the land borders will be closed to most travellers until 15 February, saying that the pandemic in South Africa is currently at its most devastating, with infection numbers far exceeding the peak experienced in the first wave.
Ramaphosa said there have been nearly 190,000 reported infections since New Year’s Day, and there are currently more than 15,000 persons in hospital with COVID-19.
South Africa has the highest number of infections in the African continent with more than a million cases.
On Monday, the country recorded 15,046 new cases and 416 deaths, bringing the total cases to 1,246,643 and fatalities to 33,579 respectively.
According to the president, 20 million doses of the vaccine had already been secured, for delivery in the coming months, and that negotiations are ongoing with a number of different manufacturers.
He added that the vaccine programme that South Africa plans to undertake will be the most ambitious logistical project in the country’s history.
The province of KwaZulu Natal has seen the most cases per head of population in recent weeks, but Ramaphosa said infection numbers in Gauteng are growing exponentially and are expected to increase further as travellers return from their holidays.
On Monday, South Africa’s Minister in the Presidency Jackson Mthembu has become the fourth member of the executive to test positive for coronavirus after displaying symptoms.
The presidency said he has gone into quarantine along with everyone who came into close contact with him.
Emirates Airlines Temporarily Suspends Flights To South Africa
Emirates Airlines says it will suspend all flights to and from south Africa from this weekend till January the 28th for operational reasons.
The Dubai-based airline says customers holding tickets with final destinations in South Africa during that period will not be accepted for travel at their point of origin. It did not elaborate further.
Emirates is popular to and from the country. South Africa has seen a surge in cases since a new variant was identified in the country in November.
Emirates is popular with travellers to and from South Africa, but there has been a sharp drop in travel because of the coronavirus outbreak.
‘Unique’ COVID-19 Variant Detected In Kenya
Kenya says it has detected a unique coronavirus variant in the south-east of the country, following a study by state-linked Kenya Medical Research Institute between June and October.
Scientists at the institute say more research needs to be done to assess the impact of the variant.
Kenya has so far confirmed nearly 100,000 COVID-19 cases and more than 1,700 deaths.
Meanwhile, the World Health Organization says the faster-spreading South African variant has been detected in three African states – Botswana, Zambia and the Gambia in west Africa.
WHO says Africa has now surpassed three million COVID-19 cases, and daily case numbers were exceeding the first wave peak.
WHO an average of 25,223 cases were reported each day between 28 December 2020 and 10 January 2021 in Africa, which is nearly 39% higher than the July 2020 two-week peak of 18,104 daily average cases.
“Revamped public health measures are ever more critical to avert a runaway surge in infections that could stretch health facilities to the breaking point,” it added.
Dozens Killed In Suspected Rebel Attack In Eastern DR Congo
A senior provincial official in the Democratic Republic of Congo has on Thursday said at least 46 civilians are reported to have been killed in an attack by suspected rebel fighters on a village in the eastern part of the country.
Adjio Gidi, a provincial Interior Minister said as of this afternoon 46 persons are reported to have died and local security forces have been dispatched to the village in Irumu territory to investigate.
He added that the Allied Democratic Forces (ADF) were behind the raid.
According to UN figures The Ugandan armed group is believed to have carried out a string of massacres in the eastern DRC, killing more than 1,000 civilians since the start of 2019.
Local army spokesman Jules Ngongo said after being alerted to the latest violence, troops went to the village and are in the process of recovering bodies. He did not say how many had been killed.
Some few days ago, unidentified attackers killed at least six rangers in an ambush in eastern DRC’s Virunga National Park, a sanctuary for endangered mountain gorillas.
DRC’s eastern borderlands with Uganda, Rwanda and Burundi are home to a constellation of more than 100 different rebel groups, many remnants of its brutal civil wars that officially ended in 2003.