Flash Briefing: HUGE Covid-19 case recording error led to panic-induced travel bans; vaccine mandates; NPA makes corruption its priority

  • An untimely dump of 17,718 historic Covid-19 cases on 22 November created the impression that South Africa had seen a dire spike in coronavirus infections – just as the country told the world about the Omicron variant. Within hours of the announcement of the discovery on Thursday, the UK and other countries introduced travel bans which have been slammed by President Cyril Ramaphosa as “unjustified”. However, at the exact moment the announcement was made, coronavirus data available showed that South Africa had seen a major spike in Covid-19 cases – from 312 on 21 November, to 18,586 on 22 November. In reality there were only 868 new cases while 17,718 of the cases introduced were historic cases – some as old as April 2020, according to data reviewed by News24. The Department of Health was asked to clarify the decision-making behind the publication of the historic data, but had not responded at the time News24 published the article.
  • President Cyril Ramaphosa is expected to receive the report on vaccine mandates soon, as businesses, unions and health groups call for the policy to be implemented. The South African Medical Research Council says that hospital admissions in the wake of the Omicron Covid variant are dominated by unvaccinated people. Unions have called for future lockdown restrictions to only apply to those who have chosen not to get vaccinated. Private companies, universities, and even some schools have already adopted mandatory vaccination policies, with more expected to follow suit. 
  • Ahead of an anticipated “avalanche” of cases emanating from the State Capture Inquiry, the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) has made corruption its priority, said prosecutions boss Advocate Shamila Batohi. In a briefing, Batohi said the NPA was preparing to strategically select cases arising from the State Capture Inquiry, based on its limited resources. She added that fighting corruption will remain the NPA’s top priority. “Moving forward, there’s going to be an avalanche of work coming from the Zondo Commission. There will be an expectation that there will be quick successes … but there is a big difference between testifying in a commission and putting together a watertight case,” said Batohi.
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