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The National Press Club (NPC) has named COVID-19 as the Newsmaker of the Year for 2020.

This comes a year since the Health Minister, Dr Zweli Mkhize, confirmed the first case of Coronavirus in South Africa on 5 March 2020.

The annual award, made possible by the NPC since 1980, honours a newsmaker in a calendar year based on the amount of media coverage received as well as the impact thereof.

The NPC Chairperson, Val Boje, said no story dominated the news in the past 365 days as COVID-19 did. 

“From that first case through the five levels of lockdown, the ‘family meetings’ and vigorous debates around the regulations; the need for personal protective equipment and the demands made on the healthcare services; working from home and job losses; the socio-economic impact, and the need for vaccines,” Boje said on Thursday night.    

Boje also dedicated the award to all those in this country and beyond who have spent the past year fighting the virus, especially doctors, nurses and other healthcare professionals.

She also made a special mention of scientists and others who have provided advice and worked on treatments and vaccines.

Mkhize has described the past year as “tumultuous”.

“I believe this award is for all the South Africans out there, fighting COVID-19, the health workers and all those who have had to endure the difficulties of the pandemic. We accept it on the basis that we all understand that those are the people that this award is honouring,” said the Minister.

The press club also took a moment to remember the 50 000 people who have lost their lives to the infectious disease.

“We urge everyone to continue taking the required precautions such as wearing a mask in public and regular hand and surface sanitising,” it said.


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