News in South Africa 27th July:

1. Vaccines not rushed but necessary:

The Department of Health says the decision to open up vaccines for those aged 18 to 34 was not a rushed one, and it will not overwhelm the system. People will also be able to present themselves at a vaccination site without an appointment and be registered and vaccinated, for the first time.

Vaccines not rushed but necessary
Image taken by: Towfiqu barbhuiya

It said the decision was based on an assessment of several important industries – such as retail and the public sector – where many employees are under 35. Expanding the vaccine rollout will ensure these industries can return to full operation faster.

It also hopes that the younger population groups will assist the elderly in getting their vaccines, seeing as far fewer people over 60 ended up getting the shot than expected.

2. Travel for vaccinated South Africans:

Inter-provincial travel for leisure resumed on Monday as South Africa moved to adjusted alert level 3 lockdown. But what about international travel?

Addressing the nation on Sunday, president Cyril Ramaphosa said the overall decline in new Covid-19 infections made it possible to gradually ease some of the restrictions on gatherings, movement and the sale of alcohol.

The president said in the last few weeks, the country’s vaccination campaign has also gained momentum, with more than 240,000 vaccines being administered every weekday. “As a result, we have now administered more than 6.3 million vaccines, with over 10% of our population having received a vaccine dose.”

This comes as good news for those looking to travel soon, as more European countries are lifting restrictions for South Africans, especially for those who’ve had their jabs, according to Andrew Stark, managing director of Flight Centre Travel Group.

Stark noted that quite recently Switzerland was the first to make an announcement that vaccinated South Africans are welcome to visit, followed by France and Canada. All vaccinated South Africans are welcome to enter France, with Canada opening its borders on 9 September 2021, he said.

Many South Africans are also eagerly waiting to jet off to paradise when Mauritius fully opens for vaccinated South Africans from 1 October 2021, just in time for the popular December holiday season.

Travel and business leaders have welcomed the speeding up of South Africa’s vaccination process with open arms, despite its slow start, Stark said.

“We’re incredibly excited by the ramping up of the vaccination process with the over 35s flooding in to get their jabs,” said Stark.

“In the case of the tourism, travel and hospitality industry, in particular, and its far-reaching supply chain, we are deeply reliant on the widespread vaccination of South Africans to protect against the devastating loss of life and livelihoods.

3. Government’s wage offer accepted:

A majority of public-sector unions have accepted the government’s wage offer, which will see salaries increase by 1.5%, and workers receive a R1,000 cash bonus after tax. This is far below the 8% unions were demanding.

The Public Servants Association of SA has accepted a “R1,000 cash gratuity after tax in the pocket” offer for its 230,000 members, after salary increase negotiations collapsed.

The union announced on Monday that it was willing to sign on the deal, albeit on an interim basis.

This, according to PSA’s Reuben Maleka, means that workers will get a cash injection of R1,000 in their bank accounts every month, after deductions, which will be backdated to April this year.

Maleka, however, said this was merely a “temporary measure” upon realisation that a strike which the union had resolved on was impossible owing to Covid-19 lockdown restrictions that banned large gatherings. The union would continue to forge ahead with its original demands despite the interim acceptance of the cash allowance offer from employers.

“This is the offer that the workers have mandated and accepted it to be implemented and backdated to April 1 in terms of the gratuity,” said Maleka.

“But our demand that we have tabled still remains but this is just an interim offer because the employers said ‘we cannot afford your demand but we can afford this’ and we took it to members.

4. 20 million canned goods recalled:

Approximately 20 million KOO and Hugo’s canned vegetable products have been recalled by South Africa’s biggest food manufacturer, Tiger Brands. This follows the detection of a defective side seam in an “extremely small number” of canned goods produced between 1 May 2019 to 5 May 2021.

At least 24 KOO products are being removed from supermarket shelves countrywide. Customers who’ve already bought affected canned vegetables – identified by the manufacturing date code stamped on the bottom or top of the can – have been offered a full refund.

The recall of some 20 million cans – representing 9% of annual production, estimated to be worth between R500 million and R650 million – comes after defects were identified in May. While some of these affected batches were identified prior to the final labelling of the finished products, Tiger Brands admitted on Monday that defective cans had been released to the market.

KOO products recalled
Image sourced from: Business Insider

A full list of affected products – with barcodes – can be found on KOO’s website.

5. Full-time teaching a possibility:

Authorities in the education department say they are confident that primary schools will be able to return to full-time teaching on 2 August.

As the education sector works to salvage what’s left of the 2021 academic calendar, Gauteng MEC Panyaza Lesufi said about 4,000 teachers were not ready to return to work.

Thousands of pupils went back to the classroom on Monday for the start of the third term.

Schools were forced to close early last month for the winter holidays due to the third wave of COVID-19 infections.

MEC Panyaza Lesufi said despite encountering some challenges, 98% of students studying were ready for the full return of primary school pupils to the classroom from next week.

Lesufi, however, said that only 93% of teachers had been able to come back to work. He said that the remaining 7% had not been able to get vaccinated, citing various reasons including having underlying health conditions and vaccine hesitancy.

Lesufi said that the province was also working to address infrastructure problems at schools, including the provision of mobile classrooms as primary school pupils prepared to return to daily classes.

All information sourced from articles posted by: BusinessTech, Business Insider, News24, TimesLive, and EWN.

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