Health minister Zweli Mkhize has confirmed that there are now 4,220 positive Covid-19 cases in South Africa.
This is up from the 3,953 Covid-19 cases announced on Thursday by the minister, meaning a rise of 267 cases over the past 24-hours, while the count of 318 the previous day represented the highest to date.
Mkhize also reported that the number of deaths from the coronavirus now stands at 79, up from the 75 deaths reported on Thursday.
The health minister said that two deaths were reported in the Western Cape, and two in KwaZulu-Natal.
A total of 152,390 tests have been conducted so far. Notably, the Western Cape (1,413) has now surpassed Gauteng (1,281) as the province with the most number of reported cases.
— Dr Zweli Mkhize (@DrZweliMkhize) April 24, 2020
Globally, coronavirus cases moved past 2.75 million infections, with more than 192,000 deaths, and 762,000 recoveries.
The World Health Organisation formed an international alliance to ensure that Covid-19 vaccines and treatments are distributed fairly, Bloomberg reported.
French President Emmanuel Macron, European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation are involved in the alliance.
“The world needs these tools and it needs them fast,” said WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus in an online briefing. “In the past they have not been available to all. That cannot be allowed to happen again.”
Germany, Europe’s largest economy, expects gross domestic product to shrink between 6% and 7% in 2020 due to the impact of the coronavirus, the worst contraction since at least 1950, Bloomberg reported, citing Spiegel magazine.
Meanwhile, Europe’s leaders inched toward a deal on rebuilding plans, while US lawmakers overwhelmingly passed a $484 billion aid bill.
South Africa’s lockdown easing
President Cyril Ramaphosa has announced the ‘gradual and phased’ lifting of South Africa’s countrywide lockdown from 1 May.
However, Ramaphosa has made it clear that there will be strict new restrictions on the non-essential businesses that plan to return from this date – including a hard cap on the number of employees that may return to work.
“Every business will have to adhere to detailed health and safety protocols to protect their employees, and workplace plans will be put in place to enable disease surveillance and prevent the spread of infection,” he said in a national address on Thursday (23 April).
“All businesses that are permitted to resume operations will be required to do so in a phased manner, first preparing the workplace for a return to operations, followed by the return of the workforce in batches of no more than one-third.”
He added that in some cases, a sector will not be able to return to full production from 30 April (Level 4) while the risk of infection remains high. Businesses will also be encouraged to adopt a work-from-home strategy where possible.
While more information on which businesses will be allowed to reopen will be outlined next week, Ramaphosa has confirmed that the following will remain closed:
- Bars and shebeens;
- Conference and convention centres;
- Entertainment venues;