Here’s what is happening in and affecting South Africa today:
Coronavirus: Globally there have been 859,327 reported cases, with 42,326 deaths. 178,131 people have recovered, but 638,870 are still infected, with 32,898 in serious or critical condition. South Africa has 1,353 confirmed cases, where 5 people have died.
- New cases: South Africa is still finding new cases of the coronavirus every day, but at in lower numbers than expected, says Health minister Zweli Mkhize. It was expected that thousands of people would have been infected by now, but the numbers have come in lower, even with testing ramping up. However, more cases will definitely emerge in the coming weeks as healthworkers are mobilised to do mass testing in danger areas. [MyBroadband]
- Another billion: Mary Oppenheimer and her daughters have donated R1 billion to South Africa’s solidarity trust. This donation is separate from the R1 billion donated by her brothers, via the South African Future Trust, bringing the total donated by the Oppenheimers as a family to R2 billion. While the Futures Trust is geared towards small business, Mary Oppenheimer said she wants her contribution to be aimed at vulnerable South Africans being assisted through the solidarity trust.[EWN]
- Electricity: While Eskom may happy to see demand drop massively during the lockdown – so it can almost guarantee no load shedding throughout – this will have negative consequences for independent producers which the power utility has had to bank on during the country’s power crisis. First in the firing line are wind power producers, who have reportedly been told that Eskom may have to cancel contracts due to unforeseen circumstances (force majeure). [Business Day]
- South Africans overseas: While attention is focused on South Africans at home during the lockdown, there are still many South Africans who abroad who are also suffering the ills of the coronavirus. One such South African, understood to be a 60-year-old tourist in Germany, has reportedly been admitted to hospital, and is in intensive care after testing positive to the virus. He is part of an elderly tour group of 16 that had been travelling on a cruise. Over 1,000 South Africans are stuck overseas. [Mail & Guardian]
- Markets: South Africa’s rand firmed against the dollar on Tuesday as strong trade balance numbers lifted the pressure on a currency which had plunged a day earlier following a sovereign credit rating downgrade, while stocks also closed higher. The currency has performed stronger than expected following the rating downgrade to junk – though analysts have warned that the true impact of that will only be felt once the country leaves lockdown. On Wednesday the rand was at R17.90 to the dollar, R22.16 to the pound and R19.74 to the euro. [XE]
Load shedding: No load shedding expected due to low lockdown demand.