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Cape Town manages to steer itself from ‘Day Zero’: official

CAPE TOWN South Africa (Xinhua) -- South Africa’s Cape Town has managed to steer itself away from disaster known as Day Zero, when the city runs out of water, executive deputy mayor Alderman Ian Neilson said on Monday.

Giving the latest update on rainfall the city has received in the past few days, Neilson said the city is very encouraged to see dam levels rising above 65 percent after significant late-winter rainfall, the first time in years.

“It is hoped that this latest rain could provide sufficient motivation for finally easing the water restrictions,” he said.

Cape Town, South Africa’s second largest city and legislative capital with about 4 million people, was on the brink of becoming the world’s first metropolis to run out of water last year, in what was called Day Zero which refers to the time when dams supplying water to the city run dry, water taps are switched off and residents have to collect water at designated points.

An unprecedented drought prompted the city to impose Level 6B water restrictions, the most stringent in history, on January 1 last year. Under the restrictions, a resident can only use 50 liters of water each day.

The water restrictions still remain despite the continuous rise of water in dam levels, Neilson said.

The rainfall over the past few weeks, combined with continued saving efforts by the majority of residents, has seen dams fill to levels the city had not seen in years, he said.

The city has advocated for a conservative relaxation of the restriction levels, which would pave the way for the associated relaxation of the restriction tariff,  according to Neilson.

This decision is currently being considered by the department, he said, while cautioning that any relaxation of restrictions will at first be conservative.

“We cannot return to a business-as-usual attitude to water without risking water security in the years to come,” he said.

“Given the unpredictable nature of our rainfall, it is imperative that we diversify our supply for the future, and entrench the water-saving mindset we have cultivated over the past year,” said Neilson.



Two trains collide in South Africa, about 100 injured

JOHANNESBURG South Africa (Xinhua) -- Two passenger trains collided Tuesday morning in the Selby area, south of Johannesburg, leaving no fatalities but approximately 100 people injured.

The passengers, who sustained minor to moderate injuries, are being treated by paramedics on the scene, said Russel Meiring, spokesperson for ER24 Emergency Medical Services, a private emergency medical care provider in South Africa.

An investigation is underway to determine the cause of the crash.


Listeriosis outbreak over in South Africa: health minister

CAPE TOWN South Africa (Xinhua) -- The months-long listeriosis outbreak that has killed about 200 people in South Africa is over, Health Minister Aaron Motsoaledi announced on Monday.

This is the conclusion by a team of WHO, international and local experts, Motsoaledi said.

According to Motsoaledi, the conclusion was drawn on two facts: no cases of listeriosis due to the outbreak strain have been identified since the first week of June and that over the last two months, the incidence rate of laboratory-confirmed listeriosis cases has dropped to pre-outbreak levels.

The government announced on December 5 last year that the country was hit by a listeriosis outbreak that was later traced to two food-processing factories in the country, prompting a recall of 5,812 tonnes of affected food stuffs.

The minister did not give the latest number of people killed in the outbreak. But previous reports said up to 200 people died of the disease since December last year.

“Today’s announcement means that ready-to-eat processed meat can now be safely consumed, as before the outbreak,” Motsoaledi said.

But he also said this does not mean that people will no longer suffer from listeriosis which has occurred in the past 40 years in the country.

According to the South African National Institute for Communicable Diseases (NICD), there are between 60 and 80 cases of listeriosis in the country for the past five years.

Listeriosis is a serious, yet treatable and preventable disease caused by the bacterium, listeria monocytogenes, which can be found in soil, water and vegetation. Animal products and fresh produce such as fruits and vegetables can be contaminated from these sources.

Symptoms from the food-borne disease include diarrhea, fever, general body pains, vomiting and weakness.



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