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News24.com | LIVE | Covid-19 in SA: Death toll surpasses 19 000 as cases rise to 716 759

SA's Covid-19 death toll surpasses 19 000

SA's total number of Covid-19 cases has now hit 716 759.

The number of deaths sits at 19 008.

The recovery rate, however, remains at 90%. A total of 646 721 people have recovered.

Iran reports one death every five minutes, Russia's daily cases surge to record high - International Covid-19 news

Hospitals in many Iranian provinces are running out of capacity to handle Covid-19 cases, health authorities say, with novel coronavirus now killing around 300 people a day or one person every five minutes. 

European leaders warned of a bleak winter as resurgent Covid-19 infections forced countries to impose new restrictions to try to curb a second wave of the pandemic, with the United States and France setting new daily records for cases. 

Australia's second-biggest city will this week exit its coronavirus lockdown following nearly four months under onerous restrictions, authorities announced Monday, after no new daily cases or deaths were recorded. R

Bulgarian schools will be allowed to switch to online studies, the education ministry said on Monday, as the Balkan country struggles to contain a new surge in coronavirus infections. 

Covid-19 infections rose by 17 440 over the weekend, Swiss health authorities showed on Monday, as the government considers tightening restrictions meant to slow the accelerating spread of Covid-19. 

Italy will present a package of measures on Tuesday to support businesses hit by new restrictions aimed at reining in a second wave of Covid-19, officials said, at a time of mounting protests against the curbs across the country. 

Russia's daily tally of new Covid-19 cases soared to a record high of 17 347 on Monday as the Kremlin warned the pandemic was beginning to inflict a greater toll outside the capital Moscow.

strongIran reports one death every five minutes, Russia's daily cases surge to record high - International Covid-19 news/strongbr /br /Hospitals in many Iranian provinces are running out of capacity to handle Covid-19 cases, health authorities say, with novel coronavirus now killing around 300 people a day or one person every five minutes. br /br /European leaders warned of a bleak winter as resurgent Covid-19 infections forced countries to impose new restrictions to try to curb a second wave of the pandemic, with the United States and France setting new daily records for cases. br /br /Australia's second-biggest city will this week exit its coronavirus lockdown following nearly four months under onerous restrictions, authorities announced Monday, after no new daily cases or deaths were recorded. Rbr /br /Bulgarian schools will be allowed to switch to online studies, the education ministry said on Monday, as the Balkan country struggles to contain a new surge in coronavirus infections. br /br /Covid-19 infections rose by 17 440 over the weekend, Swiss health authorities showed on Monday, as the government considers tightening restrictions meant to slow the accelerating spread of Covid-19. br /br /Italy will present a package of measures on Tuesday to support businesses hit by new restrictions aimed at reining in a second wave of Covid-19, officials said, at a time of mounting protests against the curbs across the country. br /br /Russia's daily tally of new Covid-19 cases soared to a record high of 17 347 on Monday as the Kremlin warned the pandemic was beginning to inflict a greater toll outside the capital Moscow.
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Iran reports one Covid-19 death every five minutes

Hospitals in many Iranian provinces are running out of capacity to handle Covid-19 cases, health authorities say, with the virus now killing around 300 people a day or one person every five minutes.

Authorities have complained of poor social distancing, and Deputy Health Minister Iraj Harirchi said the pandemic could cause 600 daily deaths in coming weeks if Iranians failed to respect health protocols in the Middle East's hardest-affected country.

A caption that ran on state television news said an Iranian died of novel coronavirus every five minutes, a rate that corresponds to daily death tallies reported by the authorities of just above or below 300 over the past 20 days.

Health Ministry spokesman Sima Sadat Lari told state TV on Sunday that 32 616 people had died of the disease and the number of confirmed cases had reached 568 896.

Some experts have doubted the accuracy of Iran’s official coronavirus tolls. A report by the Iranian parliament’s research centre in April suggested that the coronavirus tolls might be almost twice as many as those announced by the health ministry.

Europe braces for tough winter 

European leaders warned of a bleak winter as resurgent Covid-19 infections forced countries to impose new restrictions to try to curb a second wave of the pandemic, with the United States and France setting new daily records for cases.

More than 42.9 million people have been reported to be infected by the coronavirus globally and 1 151 929 have died, according to a Reuters tally, with the United States leading with the highest number of deaths and infections.

Word that a vaccine being developed by the University of Oxford and AstraZeneca Plc produced immune responses in both elderly and young people offered some positive news as autumn turns to winter in the Northern Hemisphere.

- Reuters

Trump's chief of staff argued that Covid-19 cases on Mike Pence's team should be concealed

On Saturday it was revealed in media reports that at least four aides to Pence, including his chief of staff Marc Short and personal aide Zach Bauer, tested positive for Covid-19.

It's not the first time that the White House has been accused of seeking to cover up outbreaks in the executive mansion.

When President Donald Trump announced his positive coronavirus test on 2 October, it was only after Bloomberg reported that his aide, Hope Hicks, had tested positive. 

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Global stocks tumble as investors dump risk with Covid-19 cases rocketing and no US stimulus deal

Global stocks tumbled on Monday as investors dumped risk assets, while an ongoing surge of Covid-19 cases across Europe and the US dampened sentiment. The US marked a new milestone in the past few days, recording around 83 700 new Covid-19 cases each day. While the fatality rate has been flat, top scientists warn that it tends to lag cases by two weeks.

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OPINION | Is reaching zero Covid-19 possible?

Eliminating the virus across much of the world, while not unthinkable, could take a significant number of years.

pstrongOPINION | Is reaching zero Covid-19 possible?/strong/ppEliminating the virus across much of the world, while not unthinkable, could take a significant number of years.strong/strong/p
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China reports surge of asymptomatic coronavirus cases in Xinjiang

China reported the highest number of asymptomatic novel coronavirus infections in nearly seven months on Monday following the discovery of a cluster of cases linked to a garment factory in the northwestern region of Xinjiang.

Health authorities found 137 asymptomatic cases on Sunday during a drive to test 4.75 million people in the Kashgar area triggered by an asymptomatic infection in a 17-year-old female garment factory worker reported on Saturday.

It was not clear how the teenager was infected though the official Xinhua news agency said all of the new cases were linked to another garment factory where the patient's parents work. The parents had not tested positive for the virus, however, it said.

- Reuters

Lions-Griquas clash hinges on Tuesday's round of Covid-19 testing

The Lions' Super Rugby Unlocked fixture against Griquas this weekend will hinge on Tuesday's weekly and mandatory round of Covid-19 testing.

Following the National Institute for Communicable Diseases' (NICD) prompting at the weekend, SA Rugby had to postpone the franchise's match against the Cheetahs "to limit the risk of further infection in the rugby community".

The decision was based on two more positive results being received during an additional round of testing on Friday after the four cases from earlier in the week.

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US nurse accuses doctor of coughing on her at work when he had Covid-19

A nurse practitioner in Florida is taking legal action against her boss who she says willfully coughed on her when he had coronavirus in the workplace, local news reported. 

Venise Jean-Baptist told local news that her boss, Dr. Joseph Piperato, would not take the necessary precautions to prevent the spread of Covid-19 like wearing a facemask at her job located at Project Access Foundation medical office in Miami, Florida, according to WSVN-TV.

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France may be experiencing 100 000 new Covid cases per day - govt medical advisor

France may be experiencing 100 000 new Covid-19 cases per day - two times more than the latest figures - Professor Jean-François Delfraissy, who heads the scientific council that advises the government on the pandemic, told RTL radio on Monday.

"There is probably more than 50 000 cases per day. We estimate, on the scientific committee, that we are more in the region of 100,000 cases per day," said Delfraissy.

France registered a record 52 010 new confirmed coronavirus infections over the past 24 hours, the health ministry said in a statement on Sunday, as a second wave of cases surges through Europe.

The new cases took the French total to 1 138 507, with France now ahead of Argentina and Spain to register the world's fifth highest number of cases after the United States, India, Brazil and Russia.

- Reuters

Coronavirus science | Week in review: Obesity, sudden hearing loss, and test swab found in a lung

The risk of severe Covid-19 high for obese people; a swab ends up inside woman’s lung during coronavirus test; and some patients suffer sudden hearing loss.

LATEST SCIENCE AND RESEARCH

As the Covid-19 pandemic continues, obesity has been one of the top triggers for severe cases. Outside of the disease, obesity has always had a detrimental effect on health through chronic inflammation, a higher risk of heart disease and a weakened response to viral infections.

But how much does it matter in relation to other conditions, age, sex and race when it comes to contracting a severe coronavirus infection?

To answer this question, Brazilian researchers conducted a meta-analysis of nine studies from five countries on severe Covid-19, which included more than 6 500 patients. More than half were male and had comorbidities such as hypertension (51.51%), diabetes (30.3%), cardiovascular disease (16.66%), lung disease (15.99%), renal disease (7.49%), cancer (5.07%), and immunosuppression (1.8%). A high proportion of patients were smokers and suffered from dyslipidemia - a condition involving high levels of cholesterol or fat in the blood.

They wanted to investigate the prevalence of obesity as a contributing factor in severe Covid-19 cases that required admission to ICU. They also looked at the best treatments that helped obese patients recover from the virus.

READ MORE ON HEALTH24

The World Health Organisation's coronavirus dashboard on Sunday showed a third consecutive daily record high in the number of new confirmed cases.

The WHO's complete figures for Saturday showed that 465 319 cases were confirmed to the UN health agency during the day, topping the 449 720 recorded on Friday and the 437 247 logged on Thursday.

The WHO has warned that some countries are on a "dangerous track", with too many witnessing an exponential increase in cases.

Within each week, the pattern of cases being reported to the WHO tends to spike towards Friday, Saturday and Sunday, and dip around Tuesday and Wednesday.

According to the WHO's figures, there have been more than 42.3 million confirmed cases of the respiratory disease, while nearly 1.15 million people have lost their lives, including 6 570 on Saturday.

Nearly half of Saturday's new cases were registered in the WHO's Europe region, which logged a one-day record high of 221 898 cases.

In total, more than nine million cases have now been registered in the region.

"We are at a critical juncture in this pandemic, particularly in the northern hemisphere," WHO director-general Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus told a press conference on Friday.

"The next few months are going to be very tough and some countries are on a dangerous track.

"Too many countries are seeing an exponential increase in cases and that is now leading to hospitals and ICU (intensive care units) running close or above capacity - and we're still only in October."

The WHO urged leaders "to take immediate action, to prevent further unnecessary deaths, essential health services from collapsing and schools shutting again," he said.

- AFP

Health Minister Zweli Mkhize, who recently contracted the Covid-19 virus, reiterated in a tweet on Sunday that we should wash our hands, practice physical distancing and continue wearing a mask.

Worldwide coronavirus cases cross 42.45 million, death toll at 1 146 763 

More than 42.45 million people have been reported to be infected by the novel coronavirus globally and 1 146 763 have died, according to a Reuters tally. 

Infections have been reported in more than 210 countries and territories since the first cases were identified in China in December 2019.

 - REUTERS

Mike Pence's top adviser tests positive for Covid-19

 - Marty Obst, a top advisor to Vice President Mike Pence, has tested positive for the novel coronavirus, sources reportedly told Bloomberg News.

 - Sources said Obst tested positive last week and that he has not been in close contact with the vice president.

 - Obst is just the latest person in the White House orbit to become infected with the coronavirus. Dozens of lawmakers, White House staff, and campaign officials tested positive earlier this month, including President Donald Trump.

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Worldwide coronavirus cases cross 42.4 million, death toll at 1 146 185

More than 42.4 million people have been reported to be infected by the novel coronavirus globally and 1 146 185 have died, according to a Reuters tally.

Infections have been reported in more than 210 countries and territories since the first cases were identified in China in December 2019. Interactive graphic tracking global spread of coronavirus.

-REUTERS

Colombia surpasses one million Covid-19 cases: ministry

Colombia on Saturday surpassed the benchmark of one million cases of Covid-19 registered in the country since the beginning of the pandemic, the health ministry announced.

The last 24 hours saw 8 769 new infections, bringing the total to 1 007 711 since the first case was detected on 6 March, the ministry said.

Deaths rose to 30 000 after authorities added 198 fatalities from the last 10 days.

With 50 million people, Colombia is the eighth country to top a million infections, after the United States, India, Brazil, Russia, Argentina, Spain and France. At an event in Chinchina, Caldas, President Ivan Duque stressed that Colombia has a relatively low death rate among Latin American countries on a per capita basis.

"We did much better than other countries. But I do not say this so that we feel proud, I say it because we must protect ourselves better," the conservative said.

According to the National Institute of Health, Colombia ranks tenth in the region with an average of 561 deaths per million inhabitants: almost half of Peru (1 016) and about a quarter less than Brazil (719).

Colombia went under a national lockdown on 25 March, then relaxed restrictions to shore up its collapsing economy. Since 1 September, the country has been relying on individual responsibility and widespread use of masks in public places.

Duque says he has allocated resources of "close to 11 percent of GDP" - some $31 billion - to deal with the crisis. Unemployment in cities nonetheless climbed to an all-time high of 19.6 percent in August. With 308 645 infections, the Colombian capital Bogota accounts for a third of the country's cases and is the city most affected by the virus.

However, in recent weeks the number of Covid patients has soared in the department of Antioquia, with intensive care units at capacity.

-AFP

With an increase of 1 834 coronavirus cases the total number of infections are 714 246.

There are 18 944 deaths.

"Regrettably, we report 53 Covid-19 related deaths today. This brings the total number of Covid-19 related deaths to 18 944. Of the 53 deaths reported today, 10 occurred in the past 48 hours," Health Minister Zweli Mkhize said in a statement on Saturday.

There is a 90% recovery rate.

Countries battle rising virus cases as WHO sees 'exponential' rise

A number of countries tightened anti-coronavirus measures on Saturday, with France extending a curfew and Belgium bringing forward its own, as Germany's death toll passed 10 000 and the US reported 80 000 infections in a single day.

In the Belgian capital Brussels, authorities moved up their curfew by an hour, and in Poland, President Andrzej Duda tested positive for Covid-19.The World Health Organisation has warned of an "exponential" rise in infections threatening health systems' ability to cope.

But populations weary of social isolation and economic hardship have rejected more restrictions and in hard-hit Naples, clashes erupted between Italian police and hundreds of protesters. In the US, the virus has become a central issue ahead of a 3 November presidential election, with President Donald Trump on Friday promising attendees at a Florida rally that "we're going to quickly end this pandemic, this horrible plague.

"Challenger Joe Biden matched Trump's vow to make a vaccine available for free to all "whether or not you're insured" and charged that Trump has "given up" on controlling the outbreak. Johns Hopkins University reported 79 963 new US cases in 24 hours, a record, though the number of daily deaths has more or less stabilised at between 700 and 800.Overall, more than 223 000 people have died from Covid-19 in the US.

France on Friday followed Spain past the milestone of one million cases, while the government extended an overnight curfew to around 46 million people.

Prime Minister Jean Castex said Saturday that another 700 million euros ($830 million) would be made available to help poor people who have been hit hardest by the pandemic.

And after Germany recorded its 10 000th coronavirus death, Chancellor Angela Merkel said: "The order of the day is to reduce contacts, (and) to meet as few people as possible."-

'Close to capacity' -

On Friday, WHO chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus warned that "too many countries are seeing an exponential increase in Covid-19 cases and that is now leading to hospitals and intensive care units running close to or above capacity."

"We urge leaders to take immediate action to prevent further unnecessary deaths," he added. That message was echoed by the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC), but moves to reintroduce restrictions were met with protest in parts of the continent.

In Naples, hundreds of demonstrators answered a call on social media to resist a new curfew, throwing objects at police and setting rubbish bins on fire.

The country is reeling from its worst post-war recession after a gruelling two-month national lockdown prompted by one of Europe's worst outbreaks, and authorities have been reluctant to renew drastic quarantine restrictions.

Wales entered a full lockdown late Friday, a day after Ireland shut down, while Poland adopted a nationwide lockdown that partially closed primary schools and restaurants.

President Duda, 48, said in a tweet that he had tested positive but "felt fine" and was still on the job. After Spain became the first European country to officially record a million coronavirus cases earlier in the week, Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez said Friday the real number of infections was likely more than triple that number.- 'We're overwhelmed' -Across the planet, the pandemic has now claimed the lives of 1.1 million people and infected almost 42 million, with the WHO warning the northern hemisphere was at an especially critical juncture.

In Nagorno-Karabakh, a disputed province of Azerbaijan, doctor Lusine Tovmasyan said that among those she tested in the regional capital Stepanakert, "between 40 and 60 percent of people test positive," often those who are are taking shelter in cramped underground spaces.

Belgium has seen one of Europe's deadliest per capita outbreaks and has found itself suffering some of the highest second-wave infection rates in Europe.

"We're losing. We're overwhelmed. We're bitter," said Benoit Misset, head of the intensive care unit at the University Hospital in Liege, where several medics had to work despite being positive - if asymptomatic - themselves.

In addition to setting a new curfew time of 22:00, stores in Brussels are to now close at 20:00 and athletic or cultural events have been cancelled.

Meanwhile, work has continued on the international quest to find a vaccine, with clinical trials for one candidate by AstraZeneca and Oxford University resuming in the United States on Friday, six weeks after a test subject became ill.

-AFP

N.Korea says China dust could spread Covid-19, warns people to stay inside

North Korea has warned its citizens to stay indoors, saying seasonal yellow dust blowing in from China might carry the new coronavirus into the country.

"As the new coronavirus infections continue to spread around the world, the need to deal with the yellow dust and take thorough measures has become more critical," North Korea's official party newspaper Rodong Sinmun said on Thursday.

The claim that the virus that causes Covid-19 could spread to North Korea from the Gobi desert, 1 900 km away, appears unsupported. Two metres is a common social-distancing metric, although the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says droplets containing the virus can sometimes linger in the air for hours.

The North Korean newspaper said citizens should refrain from outdoor activities and must follow prevention guidelines such as wearing masks when they go outside. North Korea has reported no confirmed cases of the coronavirus, a claim that health experts question. Pyongyang has imposed strict border controls and quarantine measures to prevent an outbreak.

Analysts say an outbreak could be devastating for the economically and politically isolated country. State-run KRT television said on Wednesday the yellow dust and fine dust may contain harmful substances, such as heavy metals and pathogenic microorganisms including viruses.

"People must pay attention to personal hygiene after returning from outside," a news reader said. "Also, workers should avoid outdoor construction work even at reconstruction sites."

On Thursday, the Russian embassy in North Korea wrote on Facebook that North Korea's Foreign Ministry had ordered all visitors to the country and its staff to wait out the dust storm inside.

-REUTERS

INTERNATIONAL NEWS 

Poland's president tests positive for coronavirus: aide

Poland's President Andrzej Duda has tested positive for coronavirus, an aide said on Saturday, as the country faces a record rise in cases.

"Ladies and Gentlemen, as recommended President @AndrzejDuda was tested yesterday for the presence of coronavirus.

The result turned out to be positive. The president is fine," Blazej Spychalski, secretary of state in the president's office, said on Twitter.

While it was unclear when Duda was infected, he had attended an investment forum in Tallinn on Monday where he met with Bulgarian President Rumen Radev who later went into quarantine.

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Covid-19: Mkhize's talk of a Western Cape spike is reckless, says Winde

Western Cape Premier Alan Winde has slammed Health Minister Zweli Mkhize's statement that the province had a 42% spike in new Covid-19 cases. 

He said Mkhize's comment was "reckless" as the province had a 13% increase.

He added the province had worked "damn hard" to manage the pandemic. 

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Coronavirus morning recap: Vaccine hesitancy, 'silent' mutations, and worrying situation in Europe

Beliefs about origins of the virus play a big role in vaccine hesitancy; Covid-19's evolutionary edge; and WHO concerned over surge in cases in northern hemisphere.

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US sets single-day record for Covid-19 cases during new surge with over 84 000 new infections

More than 84 000 people were diagnosed with Covid-19 across the United States on Friday, according to a Reuters tally, a record one-day increase in infections during the pandemic as the virus surges again nationwide.

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With an increase of 1 897 coronavirus cases, the number of infections in South Africa now stand at 712 412.

Another 48 deaths were recorded bringing the number of fatalities to 18 891.

The recovery rate is 90% with 643 523 recoveries.

Covid-19: Most SA universities aim to complete academic year in 2021, education committee hears

 - Very few South African universities will complete the 2020 academic year before the end of the current calendar year.

 - Currently, 16 universities are expected to complete the 2020 academic year between January and March 2021.

 - Higher Education, Science and Innovation Minister Blade Nzimande has said the completion of the academic year is key to the country's economic recovery plan.

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INTERNATIONAL NEWS

Covid-19 wrap | Germany readies for vaccine before end of year, Poland restricts gatherings to 5

 - India's coronavirus infections reached a total of 7.76 million, with 54 366 new cases being reported in the last 24 hours.

 - Germany is making preparations to start vaccinations against the coronavirus before the end of the year, Bild daily reported.

 - Traces of Covid-19 can be successfully detected in sewage, helping to give health officials an early warning of local outbreaks of the virus.

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Covid-19 vaccine hesitancy: Beliefs about origins of virus play a big role

Public opinion data shows a high level of Covid-19 vaccine hesitancy around the world, based on a wide array of erroneous beliefs.

Creating safe and effective Covid-19 vaccines and making them available worldwide in 2021 is only half the battle. Even if these vaccines become available, they will only work to protect the population if enough people are immunised. The other half of the battle is going to be to get the majority of the global population to accept these vaccines.

Findings from a study by UCL and Dokuz Eylul University in Turkey show that more than a third of people (34%) in Turkey and a sixth of people (17%) in the UK are "hesitant" about a Covid-19 vaccine.

The findings are based on the responses of over 5 000 participants in Turkey and the UK about their willingness to be vaccinated against Covid-19, and included discussions around their beliefs about the origin of SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes Covid-19 disease.

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'Silent' mutations gave Covid-19 virus an evolutionary edge

Scientists have been looking at RNA folding to pinpoint why SARS-CoV-2 has become so much harder to stop after its spillover from bats to humans.

Understanding the features of SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes Covid-19, is crucial for predicting the future, and in a recent study, scientists may have come one step closer.

According to Duke University (DU) researchers, a number of "silent" mutations in the roughly 30 000 letters of the virus’s genetic code may have given it an advantage and caused it to thrive in the human population after crossing over from bats and other wild animals.

"We're trying to figure out what made this virus so unique," said lead author Alejandro Berrio, a postdoctoral associate in biologist Greg Wray's lab at DU.

In their paper, they explain how the subtle changes, or mutations, influenced how the virus unfolded its RNA molecules within human cells.

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Trump has 12 days to turn around dire numbers. Biden didn't do him any favours in the debate

 - US Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden is up about 10 points nationwide and has a solid lead in more than enough swing states to get to 270 electoral votes.

 - US President Donald Trump needs something to dynamically change the tenor of the race.

 - He didn't get it at the final presidential debate.

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Dying of loneliness: How Covid-19 is killing dementia patients

Teresa Palmer is sitting on the back porch of her home in San Francisco when the mobile phone in her hand starts to buzz.

A kind, raspy voice enquires from the other end of the line: "Did I wake you?" If the question surprises Palmer, she does not show it. Her reply is plain and swift. "No," she says: It is past one in the afternoon. She has been awake for hours.

Her mother, Berenice Palmer, is 103 years old. She lives at the San Francisco Campus for Jewish Living, a 15-minute drive south from the cheery blue house where Teresa, 68, and her husband live.

But since March, Teresa has not been able to see Berenice, except for the occasional doctor’s visit, plus that one time Berenice fell and had to get stitches at the emergency room. Teresa was given permission to drive her mother back to the nursing home.

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Coronavirus morning recap: Why some defy lockdown rules, and survey finds Covid fears wearing off

Scientists looked at personality traits to understand why some defy lockdown rules; and South Africans are less afraid of the coronavirus now, according to a survey.

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There are now 710 515 coronavirus cases after 2 156 new infections were recorded in the past 24 hours.

"Regrettably, we report 102 COVID-19 related deaths today. This brings the total number of Covid-19 related deaths to 18 843. Of the 102 deaths reported today, 20 occurred in the past 48 hours," Health Minister Zweli Mkhize said in a statement.

There are 642 560 recoveries.

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