Sunday, 16 January 2022 21:40

Covid-19 in SA: Cases rise by 2 597 with 86 related deaths.

By Lehlohonolo Lehana.

The National Institute for Communicable Diseases (NICD), reports 2,597 new COVID-19 cases that have been identified in South Africa, which brings the total number of laboratory-confirmed cases to 3,559,230.

The majority of new cases today are from Western Cape (28%), followed by Gauteng (23%). Kwa-Zulu Natal accounted for 21%; Eastern Cape accounted for 6%; Limpopo, Mpumalanga and Northern Cape each accounted for 5% respectively; North West accounted for 4%; and Free State accounted for 3% of today’s new cases.

This increase represents a 10.6% positivity rate.

The proportion of positive new cases/total new tested today is 10.6% which is lower than yesterday (12.5%). The 7-day average is 13.4% today, which is lower than yesterday (14.4%).

Due to the ongoing audit exercise by the National Department of Health (NDoH), there may be a backlog of COVID-19 mortality cases reported. Today, the NDoH reports 86 deaths and of these, 25 occurred in the past 24 – 48 hours. This brings the total fatalities to 93,364 to date.

Meanwhile Basic Education minister Angie Motshekga says her department is developing a new framework to help regulate the rise of online schools in South Africa.

Answering in a recent parliamentary Q&A, Motshekga said her department has already developed the draft framework for the establishment of both online private and public schools.

"The purpose of the framework is to address the policy gap and provide guidance on the procedure for the establishment of an online school," she said. "The framework has been shared with provincial education departments for input and comments before it can be distributed to other stakeholders."

Motshekga said that regulations were introduced in 2018 around homeschooling – but that these are separate from the framework around online schools. Until now, very little has been said around the regulation of online schools in South Africa – including the prospect of government schools offering an online matric or other certificates.

However, South Africa has seen a significant move to online education over the last two years, primarily driven as a response to the Covid-19 pandemic. This includes a number of existing private schools which have had to incorporate online teaching due to ongoing lockdown restrictions.

JSE-listed independent education provider Curro opened its Curro Online offering in mid-June 2020, and the offering now boasts more than 600 learners.

Corporates have also shown eagerness to offer online learning facilities. At the end of October, mobile operator MTN launched its online school, offering a digital curriculum for grades R-12. The online school, endorsed by the Department of Basic Education, offers additional features like video lessons, assessments and extra-tuition lessons for grade 10 to 12 learners.

Notably, the University of Cape Town has also become the first university on the African continent to launch an online high school, which opened its doors in 2022. The university said that it has already received 8,000 applications for its courses since it was first announced.