Health minister Dr Zweli Mkhize has announced that there are now 20,125 confirmed cases of coronavirus in South Africa.

This is an increase of 988 cases from the 19,137 cases reported on Thursday when the country recorded 1,134 new infections, whilst the highest daily total of 1,160 new infections was recorded on Sunday.

Dr Mkhize said on Friday (22 May), that the total number of deaths has now reached 397 – an increase of 28 deaths from 369 reported before.

The minister said that 543,032 tests have been conducted, with 17,599 tests in the past 24-hour cycle.

Globally, coronavirus cases topped 5.2 million globally on Friday, while deaths have exceeded 335,000, with nearly 2.1 million recoveries.

The University of Oxford and AstraZeneca Plc have begun recruiting more than 10,000 subjects for advanced human studies of one of the world’s fastest-moving experimental Covid-19 vaccines,” Bloomberg reported.

A smaller part of the trial will expand the age range of testing to children from 5 to 12 years old and adults 56 and older, according to a statement. The other, larger stage will test the vaccine’s effectiveness in volunteers 18 and older.

AstraZeneca received a boost in its efforts to get the immunization tested and ready for use when the US pledged as much as $1.2 billion toward development on Thursday.

New police guidelines for South Africa

SA Police Service national commissioner, Khehla Sitole, has published a new directive aimed at outlining the role of responsibility of police officers during the country’s coronavirus lockdown.

The directive has been published inline with a High Court judgement which ordered the government to ‘publish a code of conduct and operational procedures regulating the conduct of the SANDF, SAPS and MPSs in giving effect to the State of National Disaster’.

“Complaints of torture, excessive use of force, inhumane treatment and punishment of the community by enforcement officers (including members of the SAPS) during the State of Disaster have come to the attention of the national commissioner,” Sitole said.

“Conduct of this nature by members of the SAPS is unacceptable and will be dealt with in terms of the criminal law and the disciplinary process of the SAPS.”

Some of the key points outlined in the directive includes:

  • The relief commander should instruct members during each parade on their functions and duties, cautioning them regularly and strongly against any use of unnecessary violence;
  • A member may only arrest a person if he or she has the power (authority) to arrest that person;
  • Members must ensure that a particular offence exists in law before arresting a person for the commission of an offence;
  • The directive notes that where certain conduct has not been criminalised (such as the wearing of mask or social distancing), members must sensitise ‘transgressors’ that their conduct is endangering their health and that of others;The directive also notes that the country’s lockdown regulations change often, and that members should always be up to date with the latest rules;
  • Members may arrest a person without touching them by ‘forcibly confining’ them. However, the directive notes that members may use force to effect an arrest only in certain limited circumstances;
  • Members may not use private equipment not issued by the SAPS such as ‘sjamboks’;
  • The directive sets out a clear zero-tolerance approach to torture, and notes the actions which are defined as torture under the Prevention and Combatting of Torture of Persons Act;
  • The directive also outlines the complaints procedure for members of the public where they believe that an SAPS member has acted unlawfully.

* Members refers to SAPS members and personnel.

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