Tag: lockdown

Source: Bloomberg

More than 30 Taiwanese companies including Pegatron Corp and Macbook maker Quanta Computer Inc. have now halted production in the electronics hubs of eastern China to comply with local Covid-related restrictions, spelling more trouble for an already fragile global tech supply chain.

On Wednesday, Quanta said it was suspending a Shanghai plant to comply with government restrictions. At least 30 other companies are suspending output in nearby Kunshan until April 19, they said in filings to Taiwan’s stock exchange. Some said the effect on their finances is still unknown, while others expect no major impact. Kunshan, a bustling city that hosts Apple Inc. suppliers including Pegatron and Luxshare Precision Industry Co., began a city-wide lockdown in early April.

The companies make parts for consumer electronics products ranging from PCs and smartphones, with many of the components critical for their global customers. The global supply of key tech has already been hobbled by China’s zero tolerance toward the virus and its measures to stamp it out in cities such as Shanghai and Kunshan.

On Tuesday, Pegatron suspended its iPhone assembly campuses in those two cities as China struggles to control the worst virus outbreak in two years. Other key Apple Inc. manufacturing partners including Luxshare and Compal Electronics Inc. also have major operations in Kunshan.

Widespread Chinese lockdowns have begun to exact an unquantifiable toll on the world’s No. 2 economy, the biggest buyer of semiconductors and the largest producer of electronics from iPhones to PCs.

Disruptions to local manufacturing are set to worsen the logistics hurdles of global companies already grappling with a shortage of cargo capacity that’s pushed shipping costs to record highs and a prolonged chip crunch. Gaming consoles, server computers and electric vehicles are among products facing further supply challenges.

Many of the most critical factories in Kunshan and Shanghai have managed to keep humming by operating so-called closed-loop systems that are quarantined from much of the outside world. But worsening logistics jams are constricting shipments of components, draining inventories to the point where some manufacturers including Pegatron and Quanta are down to just a few weeks’ stocks, Taipei-based consultancy TrendForce estimated.

Local officials on Wednesday placed two Kunshan districts with significant electronics manufacturing into lockdown for an indefinite period, while for certain other districts the lockdown was extended by seven days.

Some contract electronics makers have been unable to secure CPUs, battery modules and panels amid prolonged lockdowns, and certain manufacturers are facing a shortage of multilayer ceramic capacitors for servers and automotive products.

“The biggest problem for MLCC suppliers at this stage is they cannot deliver materials to Shanghai and Kunshan,” TrendForce said in a note on Tuesday. “Limited manpower and logistics and suspended transportation options mean [contract electronics makers] can only rely on onsite inventory to barely meet the needs of production lines, further exacerbating component mismatches.”

State of Disaster lifted in SA

Source: MyBroadband

President Cyril Ramaphosa has announced that South Africa has lifted the state of disaster, as of 00:00 on Tuesday, 5 April 2022.

In an address to the nation on Monday evening, Ramaphosa emphasised that the state of disaster was necessary to manage the pandemic and its consequences on various industries.

However, he added that the additional powers that a state of disaster provides are temporary and limited and should be maintained only as long as necessary.

Ramaphosa said that because of the drastic downturn in Covid-19 cases and Covid-19-related deaths, and the number of hospital beds available to patients, South Africa would be able to return to normality in public health facilities.

“These conditions no longer require that we remain in a national state of disaster,” Ramaphosa stated.

While government will lift the state of disaster from midnight, Ramaphosa said specific transitional measures would remain for 30 days before automatically lapsing.

Outside of these few exceptions, all existing rules under the state of disaster are repealed.

Cooperative governance minister Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma gazetted these transitional regulations for public comment last week.

It is important to note they will be separate from the National Health Act regulation amendments that will be used to manage the pandemic once finalised after the public comment period lapses on 16 April.

Ramaphosa eases Level 1 restrictions

Source: IOL

President Cyril Ramaphosa has announced the lifting of some restrictions, yet experts have warned of a Deltacron-driven fifth wave in April/May.

In his national address on Tuesday night, the president announced the country will remain on alert level 1, but has scrapped some restrictions including that of mandatory mask-wearing outdoors and gatherings for social events.

Despite this, the Deltacron variant has been currently driving up Covid-19 cases worldwide.

The variant, which is a mixture of the Omicron and Delta variants, has also appeared in South Africa, and experts warn of a fifth wave at the end of April/May.

In a television interview, medical expert Dr Vivek Solanki says that the Deltacron variant is expected to be highly contagious but not necessarily fatal.

“It is a mixture of the Omicron and the Delta variant, and it’s where there is one spike of the Omicron variant on the Delta variant. It is expected to be more contagious than Omicron; however, not necessarily more deadly.

“It has been spreading and is mostly in France at the moment, Denmark, Germany, Holland, the US, in Asia, and has now made an appearance in South Africa and will soon spread to the rest of Africa.”

He says that South Africa will see the fifth wave of infections around the end of April/May.

“The fifth wave, we expect it around the end of April/May to take off really seriously. However, we should be at the side of caution and not overreact and panic. This is similar to Omicron. It’s like the flu, chances are a lot of people will catch it.

“Most people, around 95/96 (percent), would just recover the symptoms and signs of it. There will be extremely few people that might end up hospitalised, and those are the ones who are more prone to it with high comorbid conditions and high blood pressure, uncontrolled diabetes and auto-immune disorders,” he said.

Solanki also contends that we have reached herd immunity and immunity against Omicron that we might not need the fourth and fifth booster shots proposed by vaccine manufacturers.

“We will have crossover protection or antibodies against Omicron from the previous exposure and people that have had their booster shots.

“Some of the American manufacturers are saying that we should take a fourth booster, fifth booster and things like that. But I already think that there’s herd immunity present, there’s Omicron immunity present, and there will be crossover protection for the people.”

Solanki says that South Africa is more prepared for the next surge of infections. He says that they do not expect a mass hospitalisation as with the Delta wave.

The government and experts have also expressed concern over the low vaccination rates and have urged the public to vaccinate and lead healthier lifestyles.

Meanwhile, amid calls for the scrapping of the national state of disaster, the president added that the government is intending to lift it after public comments are completed.

 

Lockdown now due to be ‘reviewed’ by 3 October

Source: Supermarket & Retailer

When President Cyril Ramaphosa announced that South Africa was moving down a lockdown level, from Level 3 to Level 2, in a mid-September address to the nation, he offered hope that even less strict rules could be just around the corner.

“These measures will be reviewed in two weeks time depending on the state of the pandemic,” he said, after detailing the new curfew, limits on gatherings, and rules for alcohol sales.

That promise was made formal in regulations published on the same night, on 12 September with just a little more detail: the regulations would be “reviewed and amended where necessary”, and that would be done within two weeks of their publication, so the count would start on that day, said co-operative governance minister Nkosazana Dlamini Zuma.

That deadline fell on Sunday, 26 September.

But instead of a review of lockdown, the government simply pushed out the deadline.

In a notice signed by Dlamini Zuma on the same long-weekend Sunday, she rubbed out that 12 September sub-section and replaced it with a one-week countdown starting immediately.

That sets the new review date for Adjusted Alert Level 2 – with the expectation that it would be reduced to Level 1 – on Sunday, 3 October.

However, there appears to be no reason the deadline can not again be extended, by the same simple method of decree, either before that date or at the last second again.

After rapid evolution over the last 15 months, Alert Level 1 is now expected to maintain the requirement to wear a mask while in public, and to demand Covid-19 tests from everyone entering South Africa, but to have little further impact on daily life.

 

SA to remain on Lockdown Level 3

By  Marvin Charles for News24 

Cabinet has approved the decision to leave the country on adjusted Level 3 of lockdown restrictions.

It comes after the National Coronavirus Command Council (NCCC) met earlier this week amid lower numbers of vaccinations being administered across the country.

As of yesterday, there were 14 000 new Covid-19 cases reported. The Eastern Cape, KwaZulu-Natal and Western Cape were still experiencing a surge in Covid-19 cases.

Cabinet spokesperson Phumla Williams said: “Cabinet further approved the keeping of the country under the risk-adjusted alert Level 3 of the national lockdown, as advised by the Ministerial Advisory Committee. Cabinet encourages all unvaccinated people in South Africa to get vaccinated because vaccines protect us from getting seriously ill from Covid-19 and they save lives.”

Three weeks ago, President Cyril Ramaphosa moved the country to alert Level 3 of the national lockdown following his meeting with the NCCC and the Presidential Coordinating Committee. He also announced the resumption of the sale of alcohol. He also announced the reinstatement of the R350 Social Relief Grant. It will run until March 2022.

He added that while sustained decreases in case numbers in Gauteng, Limpopo, North West and Mpumalanga had been observed, the other five provinces were either increasing or sustaining numbers of new cases.

“The Eastern Cape, KwaZulu-Natal and Western Cape provinces still appear to be on the upward slope of the third wave, although the Western Cape is showing early signs of reaching the peak of their third wave. Whereas the Free State and Northern Cape provinces continue to see a steady number of new cases,” Puren said.

 

Kulula flights stopped until September

Source: MyBroadband

Comair has extended the suspension of Kulula.com and British Airways flights until 31 August 2021, following President Cyril Ramaphosa’s announcement that South Africa will remain on lockdown level 4.

Comair said the prohibition of all non-essential travel in and out of Gauteng means there is limited demand for business travel.

Comair suspended all scheduled flights from 5 July 2021 with the intention to start flying again on 30 July 2021.

However, given the uncertainty of the expected length of the recently adjusted level 4 lockdown, Comair decided to suspend flight operations until 31 August 2021.

“This decision has been taken in the interest of the well-being of employees and customers,” Comair said.

“Without Government engagement with or support for the aviation sector and associated services, the ability to plan constructively for a meaningful service beyond 30 July 2021 is exceptionally challenging.”

“Taking the potential variables into consideration, Comair plans to resume scheduled operations on Wednesday 1 September 2021.”

Comair CEO, Glenn Orsmond, apologised to customers affected by the suspension, adding that the decision was not made lightly.

Tickets for travel with Kulula.com from 28 June 2021 to 31 August 2021 will remain valid for 12 months until 31 August 2022. No change of booking fee or fare difference will be charged.

 

As many South African workers continue to work from home, many feel increasingly tired, stressed and uncertain about the future which is leading to rise in mental health concerns.

Linda Trim, director at Giant Leap, says: “Coronavirus and the imposition of lockdowns year has significantly raised mental health challenges.

“These are some of the major factors that have contributed to the stress and anxiety during this time:

  • Disrupted work-life balance: Balancing the work and personal life has become a major issue during this period. Extended hours of work just to finish off the task has led to the severe disruption of work-life balance.
  • Uncertain future: “Uncertainty about one’s career prospects for the future can be frustrating and worrying,” Trim said. “And it’s especially challenging for younger workers trying to learn from more experienced workers and trying to get ahead in their careers.”
  • Financial uncertainty: The economic impact of lockdowns has proved ruinous for many economies. “Many people live in fear of losing their jobs,” said Trim.

But there are ways to push back against the anxiety. This is how you can preserve the mental health while working from home:

Have separate areas for work and play: It is recommended to have a dedicated workspace to help you stay focused when working remotely.
“Having separate areas for work and play also makes it easier to mentally move from work mode to home mode,” says Trim.

Don’t use your work computer in your free time: Just like having different locations for work and private life, it’s important to separate your work tools from your play tools. The most obvious example is your laptop. “If you can afford it, make sure you don’t use the laptop where you are drafting your best selling novel for any other activity,” Trim advises.

Go for a walk after the workday is over: “If it’s safe and you can observe covid rules, go put for a walk or bike ride as soon as the workday is over. This will help you mentally switch to ‘home mode’ by getting you focused on a different activity, thereby relaxing your mind,” says Trim.

Do exercise to keep both your body and mind healthy: If you cannot or are worried about going out, do some exercises or stretches at home. Not only will physical activity help you divert your mind from work, but it will help you stay in shape and help you relax.

Plan your after-work time: When everyone is locked in and there isn’t much life outside your home, it’s difficult to break yourself away from work. Says Trim:” It’s essential to keep a check on what you are doing after work. Make plans beforehand so that it makes you look forward to finishing off the work.”

“It’s also really important to stay in touch, keep connecting and talking to each other, particularly friends and family,” Trim concludes.

Level 4 lockdown ‘will be extended’

Source: MyBroadband

The government will most likely extend the two-week adjusted level four lockdown regulations as Covid-19 cases in South Africa continue to rise.

This is the view of Hugo Pienaar, chief economist at the bureau for economic research at Stellenbosch University.

Pienaar said that when President Cyril Ramaphosa announced the move to level four on 27 June 2021, the seven-day rolling average of new daily coronavirus cases was around 15 000.

“Yesterday, the seven-day rolling average was 19 100 and health experts tell us we are yet to reach the peak,” he said.

“Irrespective of the dire impact on the hospitality, liquor and aviation sectors, the state of the pandemic will make it very hard to relax the regulations by Sunday.”

Pienaar said the fact that an agreement has been reached to extend the Covid-19 Temporary Employer/Employee Relief Scheme (Ters) to employees affected by the level 4 lockdown gives a hint that the regulations will be extended beyond the initial two weeks.

The Ters will allow workers in industries affected by the lockdown to get part of their salary during this period.

Pienaar highlighted that South Africa has been in a similar situation during the second wave when harsher restrictions were kept in place longer than initially planned.

“We are very much in the same situation as then with the new variant driving cases,” Pienaar said.

“We are speculating, but if we throw all of this together, I think an extension is on the cards.”

Daily cases

Last week, South Africa recorded its highest ever number of new daily Covid-19 cases – 26,485 – with a positivity rate of 27.3%.

The Gauteng province accounts for the majority of new cases (61%), followed by the Western Cape (11%) and Limpopo (7%) provinces.

The increase in coronavirus cases came a week after President Cyril Ramaphosa placed the country under stricter lockdown.

Experts pointed out that the impact of the lockdown will only be felt this week as people only start to show symptoms a few days after they contract the virus.

The chart below provides an overview of the average daily positive Covid-19 cases per week, which Pienaar referred to.

Source: Devdiscourse

Police Minister Bheki Cele has warned that transgressors of Adjusted Alert Level 4 regulations will leave law enforcement with no option but to effect arrests.

Cele made the declaration while addressing reporters during a National Coronavirus Command Council (NCCC) briefing, after President Cyril Ramaphosa on Sunday moved the country to Adjusted Alert Level 4, amid a rapid rise in COVID-19 infections.

“Law enforcement is up to the task. Their aim is not to arrest and criminalise people in mass,” said the Minister.

“As a country, we are all wiser to the effects of this deadly virus. We all know the pain and destruction COVID-19 continues to cause us as a nation and I am confident, there will be more compliance to the regulations set out to save lives.”

Non-compliance with the regulations carries an option of a fine or imprisonment not exceeding six months or both. Since 27 March last year, police had arrested 465 098 citizens who have been charged with the contravention of the Disaster Management Act. Of these, 7 439 of them were nabbed during adjusted alert Level 3 which commenced on 16 June 2021.

“Police will continue to monitor compliance through targeted operations, which will be intensified in hotspot provinces. Community members are also encouraged to continue to be instrumental in reporting the flouting of the regulations,” he said.

He warned that reckless calls for mass contravention of the Disaster Management Act would not be tolerated, saying “police will act decisively against anyone who deliberately and unashamedly contravenes the regulations”.

He added: “In the same breath, let me emphasize, that mass gatherings are not only prohibited but are criminalised under Adjusted Alert Level 4.

“Political leaders of all parties are urged to act responsibly during this time and be reminded that no amount of political mileage is worth people’s lives.”

During the briefing, Cele welcomed the upcoming commencement of the inoculation of security personal. The sector will begin administering jabs from 5 July.

He said the Ministry had already received a comprehensive briefing from the SAPS management in this regard.

“We are satisfied that the inoculation of over 180 000 SAPS members and supporting staff will go ahead as planned.”

COVID-19 has claimed the lives of 666 police officers since the country recorded its first case in March last year.

“While we gear up for the vaccination of officers in the frontlines, we know that for the next two weeks it will not be business as usual as we operate under Adjusted Alert Level 4.

“Over and above the national vaccination program that is underway, breaking the chain of transmission by reducing person-to-person contact remains a priority as government, if we are to flatten the curve,” he said.

 

By Rudolph Nkgadima for IOL

While Gauteng premier David Makhura considers imposing further restrictions in the province, in an effort to curb the increasing number of Covid-19 infections, some health experts are saying they will not be enough.

In the past few weeks, Gauteng has seen a sustained steady increase in Covid-19 cases and is the epicentre of the third wave, accounting for about 60% of the latest daily increase.

Welcoming the military health personnel deployed to help health-care professionals in the province on Monday, Makhura said a stricter lockdown could be announced soon as the number of new cases and hospitalisations continued to soar.

However, health expert Dr Kgosi Letlape said Gauteng was left with only one option.

“The only thing that we can resort to are the non-pharmaceutical intervention methods which have worked for us during the first and second wave. People should be behaving as if we are on level 5 because the numbers are too high,” he said.

Letlape said restrictions on social gatherings needed to be tightened.

Life Healthcare group chief executive Peter Wharton-Hood said further restrictions would not improve the situation.

“The infections are already in the system; a hard lockdown is not going to prevent the peak. The social consequences of a hard lockdown and the economic consequences are grave for those people who are not able to work,” he said.

“Prevention is better than cure. I think that the learnings of wave 3, for us, is a direct result of social behaviour and people not taking the necessary guidelines and following the obvious advice that has been given to them for months. Social distancing, wearing masks and responsible behaviour are the best ways to prevent this outcome,” he said.

The provincial coronavirus command council is set to meet on Tuesday when further restrictions are expected to be discussed.

 

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