Here’s what is happening in and affecting South Africa today:
Coronavirus: Global infections since the start of the year have risen to 10.3 million confirmed cases, while the worldwide death toll has reached over 505,000. In South Africa, cases continue to rise rapidly, with total infections now at 151,209. There have also been 2,657 casualties, with 73,543 recoveries to date. This leaves a balance of 75,009 active cases.
- Lockdown again: Minister of health Dr Zweli Mkhize says that a return to a ‘hard’ lockdown – or lockdown level 5 – cannot be ruled out, especially given the country’s rapid rise in Covid-19 infections over the last few weeks. He said that the lockdown helped curb infections, but the country needed to get back to work so people’s livelihoods could be secured. However, government had to balance the two, and that a return to the highest level of lockdown was a possibility to prevent infection spreading. He warned of a spike in infections in the coming days. 
- Worse to come: South Africa’s first quarter GDP data was better than expected, but still bad – and it marks the state of the economy before the coronavirus pandemic and lockdown came into effect. Analysts and economists expect much worse for Q2 data, after the response to the pandemic virtually wiped out all economic activity for a month before very slowly trying to open up again. The markets are now seen as extremely vulnerable and unpredictable, as the Covid-19 threat remains in play. [Daily Maverick]
- More job cuts: As the harsh reality of a locked down economy takes root, more companies are having to cut their workforce to keep afloat. The latest group to do so is Barloworld, which is taking a knife to its logistics division, resulting in 2,500 jobs being cut. The group is also putting its automotive business under review. It is just one of many companies that have had to cut jobs as a result of the Covid-19 lockdown, with warnings that millions of jobs are at risk in the coming months. [Moneyweb]
- Harsh step-down: SAA’s business rescue practitioners have received a tongue-lashing from the courts, criticising them for “faffing around” for 6 months and failing to produce a business rescue plan. The administrators are appealing a court ruling against their retrenchment process. The Labour appeal court said that retrenchments usually come at the end of the process, once a plan is in place – not usually the first step taken in the dark. It said the process was illogical, and that the administrators had failed to do their mandated task. [TimesLive]
- Markets: South Africa’s rand fell against the US dollar on Tuesday as data showed the domestic recession deepened in the first quarter of this year – before the coronavirus pandemic hit the country and put further strain on the economy. Statistics South Africa said that first-quarter gross domestic product contracted 2% from the previous three months, led by declines in mining and manufacturing. On Wednesday the rand was at R17.36 to the dollar, R21.48 to the pound and R19.49 to the euro. Commentary by Reuters. [XE]