Here’s what is happening in and affecting South Africa today:
Coronavirus: Global coronavirus cases have reached 1,347,510, with 74,780 deaths. 285,090 people have recovered from the virus, but 47,396 of the 987,640 active cases are in serious or critical condition. Included in this number is British Prime Minister Boris Johnson, who has been placed in intensive care to treat his symptoms. In South Africa, there are 1,686 cases, with 12 confirmed deaths.
- Massive job losses: The South African Reserve Bank is expecting massive job losses as a result of the three-week lockdown, with early projections that 370,000 people will lose their job, and 1,600 companies will be declared insolvent. These figures are only the formal sector, with the impact on the informal sector being more difficult to place. The SARB noted that the projections were fairly volatile and changing every day – but overall, things did not look great for the job market. [Moneyweb]
- IMF, no way: The ANC and its alliance partners have come out strongly against South Africa approaching any global financier like the IMF or the World Bank for aid during the coronavirus pandemic. The alliance wants South Africa’s independence to be protected, as approaching these groups for money often comes with strict conditions, which removes a lot of room for political interference. However, South Africa’s finances are currently stretched so thin, that government may not have a choice in the matter. [Reuters]
- Please comply: Government has again urged South Africans – particularly those in the most vulnerable areas – to comply with the lockdown regulations, as we move into the next phase of mass testings. Health minister Zweli Mkhize said that the next major battle to be fought against the virus in the country is to treat internal transmissions. To this end, government will soon start a mass testing drive as it targets tens of thousands of daily tests. [ENCA]
- Mask, or no mask: The World Health Organisation has reviewed its position on face masks during the coronavirus pandemic, and now says that general mask use is fine – as long as it’s used in conjunction with hand washing and social distancing, adding that it is only really effective in places where the latter two measures are difficult. The body previously advised that mask use was not effective for those not infected with the virus, or working in high risk environments. It noted that medical professionals should still be given priority for their use. [EWN]
- Markets: The rand enjoyed some reprieve on Monday as the SARB signalled that no further interest rate cuts are on the cards for South Africa. Sentiment and risk appetite was also largely assisted by the possibility that both the US and the EU are approaching the peak infection of the virus, leaving most markets in the green. On Tuesday the rand was at R18.68 to the dollar, R22.94 to the pound and R20.22 to the euro. [XE]