3,465 confirmed coronavirus cases in South Africa

Health minister Zweli Mkhize has confirmed that there are now 3,465 positive Covid-19 cases in South Africa.

This is up from 3,300 Covid-19 cases announced on Monday by the minister, meaning a rise of 165 cases over the past 24-hours.

The number of deaths remains at 58, with 1,055 reported recoveries.

The total number of tests conducted to date is 126,937, of which 5,427 were completed over the past 24 hours, the Department of Health said.

Globally, Covid-19 cases surpassed 2.5 million infections on Tuesday, with deaths closing in on 172,000, and around 659,600 recoveries.

Governments in the European Union mustn’t be complacent even if the number of infections is stabilizing, EU Health Commissioner Stella Kyriakides said, urging caution in easing lockdown measures, Bloomberg reported.

Quick, uncoordinated exits risk jeopardizing the sacrifices of citizens and medical staff, she told members of the European Parliament’s health committee.

Meanwhile, economic figures for the first half of the year will probably be “very ugly,” Bank of England chief economist Andy Haldane said in a podcast with the Institute for Government.

He said the second quarter will show a sharper contraction, and those patterns will be replicated across the world.

The meltdown in oil markets widened, with huge losses spreading beyond contracts affected by technical anomalies as the world runs out of places to store unwanted crude.

West Texas Intermediate crude for May delivery plunged below zero on Monday for the first time in history, but the panic selling spread to the June contract on Tuesday, which briefly dropped as much as 42% to $11.79 a barrel.

The widening of the price collapse to futures that aren’t close to expiry underscored the severity of the crisis in the oil market. Storage tanks, pipelines and tankers are rapidly being overwhelmed by a vast oversupply caused by slumping fuel demand as countries are locked down to slow the spread of the coronavirus, Bloomberg reported.

Earlier, Brent crude futures dropped below $20 a barrel, the lowest since 2002.

Essential services

Prior to the start of South Africa’s coronavirus lockdown, the Department of Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs (CoGTA) gazetted a list of essential goods which may continue to be sold during the lockdown period, as well as the essential services which are exempt from most lockdown restrictions.

On the goods side, the regulations state that all retail shops and shopping malls must be closed, except where these essential goods are sold. The regulations also state that stores will be prohibited from selling any other goods.

Businesses face strict punishments for breaching these prohibitions including a fine, or imprisonment of up to six months.

However, since this list of goods was gazetted nearly four weeks ago, government has introduced a number of new goods and revisions on what can and cannot be sold.

Below, law firm Werksmans Attorneys provided an updated list of essential goods as of Tuesday (21 April) alongside the measures businesses will have to follow when selling them.

Food

  • Any food product, including non-alcoholic beverages, but excluding cooked hot food;
  • Animal food;
  • Chemicals, packaging and ancillary products used in the production of any food product.

Cleaning and Hygiene Products

  • Toilet Paper, sanitary pads, sanitary tampons, condoms;
  • Hand sanitiser, disinfectants, soap, alcohol for industrial use, household cleaning products, and personal protective equipment; and (iii) Chemicals, packaging and ancillary products used in the production of any of the above;
  • Products for the care of babies and toddlers. The products include baby clothes, blankets, towels and other essential accessories for new-borns, infants and toddlers up to 36 months old; and
  • Personal toiletries, including hair-care, body and face washes, roll-ons, deodorants, toothpaste.

Medical

  • Medical and Hospital Supplies, medicine, equipment and personal protective equipment; and
  • Chemicals, packaging and ancillary products used in the production of any of the above.

Fuel

  • This includes gas and coal.

Basic goods 

  • This includes airtime, electricity and the withdrawal of cash;

Hardware and repairs

  • Hardware, components and supplies required by any qualified tradespersons solely for the purpose of emergency repairs at residential homes;
  • Hardware, components and supplies required by an entity engaged in the provision of essential services for any project related to the provision of water, electricity or other essential services;
  • Components for vehicles under-going emergency repairs where such vehicles are used by persons engaged in essential services work.

The regulations make it clear that stores selling hardware products and vehicle components must maintain a register of persons buying essential goods listed and must keep a record of a signed declaration, which corresponds with the buyer of goods attesting that the goods are essential goods as defined in the regulations.

Education 

  • Information and Communication Technology devices (such as desktops, laptops, modems and other devices) for education purposes;
  • Gases, liquids and chemicals used in the preservation of biological samples and maintenance of equipment and machinery; and
  • Animal feed for laboratory and farm animals.

Read: The good, the bad and the ugly facing South Africa after lockdown

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3,465 confirmed coronavirus cases in South Africa