Here’s what is happening in and affecting South Africa today:
Coronavirus: Global coronavirus cases are at 4.8 million confirmed, with deaths now over 318,000. In South Africa, the country recorded another large increases of cases to 17,200, with deaths also increasing to 312. There have been 7,960 recoveries to date, leaving the country with 8,928 active cases.
- GP, WC, LV3: The two provinces hardest hit by the coronavirus in South Africa are determined to move to level 3 lockdown in June. Gauteng premier David Makhura said the entire province will drop to level 3 next month, while Western Cape premier, Alan Winde, has laid out a strong case and strategy for how the province, which is the current epicentre of the virus, could ease on restrictions. Despite this, the message from national government has been that hard-hit districts will remain at level 4. [Moneyweb]
- School matters: The Department of Basic Education has announced that some learners will be heading back to school from 1 June – specifically with grades 7 and 12. The announcement came amid mixed reactions to the plan, which was proposed last week. While governing bodies and some unions support it, other unions and school staff remained sceptical. Concerns have been raised about school readiness to sanitise and protect learners and workers. The department has assured that strategies are in place. [BusinessTech, ENCA]
- Covid Prognosis: Following another large jump in confirmed coronavirus cases in South Africa, modelling used by the Department of Health shows that total confirmed cases could hit over 30,000 by the end of May, with concerns of a 40,000 death toll by November, with infections in the ‘hundreds of thousands’. The concern from experts is a lack of ICU bed sin the country to hand the coming storm, however health minister Dr Zweli Mkhize tempered fears, saying plans are in place for more beds if the country needs it. [TimesLive]
- Informal trade: While businesses scurry to get back to work, South Africa’s informal traders are being left in the dust. Informal traders collectively contribute to the livelihoods of 2.5 million people, and largely live hand-to-mouth. While some have been allowed to get back to work, there are many traders who report being unable to get space to trade due to distancing rules, also citing trouble from officials. Meanwhile, there has been little in the way of relief and funding coming from government. [Mail & Guardian, Daily Maverick]
- Markets: South Africa’s rand extended a rally from the previous session on Tuesday, spurred by optimism about prospects for a Covid-19 vaccine and the re-opening of economies around the world. However, it is struggling to muster enough momentum to break through the upper end of the trading range, following weeks of range-bound trading. On Wednesday the rand is trading at R18.29 to the dollar, R22.44 to the pound and R20.01 to the euro. [XE]