Health Minister Zweli Mkhize launched the first mobile sampling and testing units in Gauteng as part of the mass testing project announced earlier this week by President Cyril Ramaphosa.

Transport Minister Fikile Mbalula extended the permissible hours of operation of minibus taxis and other public transport by an hour. They can now run from 5am to 10am and 4pm to 9pm. They can also carry more passengers, as long as vehicles are sanitised, and passengers wear masks. The government would help with rolling out masks.

The announcement followed a meeting between Mbalula and the South African National Taxi Council and the National Taxi Alliance on Monday.  

Gauteng health MEC Bandile Masuku said the provincial government was negotiating with conference venue Nasrec to turn it into a temporary treatment site for Covid-19 patients in need of urgent care, News24 reported.

The news site also reported that scores of tributes were paid yesterday to two of South Africa’s Covid-19 victims, 79-year-old Louis Wilsenach and globally acclaimed researcher Professor Gita Ramjee.

Wilsenach was remembered as a ‘hugely successful creator and marketer, and was involved in the branding for Nik Naks, Simba chips and Ouma rusks’. Ramjee was acknowledged for her contribution to science, particularly in the field of HIV research.

By last evening, 44 202 tests in South Africa had yielded 1 380 positive cases.

In other virus-related news

  • AFP said Spain recorded a record daily death toll of 864, meaning more than 9 000 people had died in the country as a result of coronavirus. Iran’s death toll passed 3 000. There were now more than 800 000 confirmed cases around the world;
  • India announced that work had begun on converting some 20 000 railway coaches into coronavirus isolation wards capable of accommodating up to 320 000 patients;
  • Britain’s Defence Secretary Ben Wallace became the fourth member of the UK cabinet to self-isolate after showing symptoms of coronavirus. Wallace said he had now recovered and had continued to work throughout. Prime Minister Boris Johnson and Health Secretary Matt Hancock are both in self-isolation after testing positive for the virus. Scottish Secretary Alister Jack is also self-isolation after showing symptoms;
  • Acclaimed British artist David Hockney is in lockdown at his house in Normandy, spending his time ‘drawing the spring awakening on his iPad’. In a BBC exclusive, he shares 10 of his most recent images; and
  • Researchers at London’s Imperial College said modelling based on recorded deaths indicated that strict containment measures might have already saved up to 59 000 lives across 11 European countries battling the spread of the new coronavirus.

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