34,357 confirmed coronavirus cases in South Africa as deaths rise to 705

Update: The health minister published the incorrect number of recoveries. This has been updated below.

Minister of health Dr Zweli Mkhize has announced that South Africa now has 34,357 confirmed cases of coronavirus.

This is up by 1,674 from the 32,683 infections reported on Sunday. The minister reported that the number of deaths have increased by 22 to 705 .

The minister said that 742,742 tests have been conducted, with 17,617 tests in the past 24-hour cycle. There have also been 17,291 recoveries.

Globally, coronavirus cases topped 6.3 million globally on Monday, while deaths have exceeded 374,000, with more than 2.86 million recoveries.

American pharmaceutical company Eli Lilly said patients have been dosed in what it said was the world’s first study of a potential antibody treatment designed to fight Covid-19. The placebo-controlled study will assess safety in patients hospitalized with the disease and results are expected by the end of June, Bloomberg reported.

“Later this month, we will review the results of this first human study and intend to initiate broader efficacy trials,” the company said. “At the same time as we are investigating safety and efficacy, we also are starting large-scale manufacturing.”

Sentiment climbs as lockdown eases

An index measuring South African manufacturing sentiment rose above 50 for the first time in 10 months in May as some lockdown restrictions aimed at curbing the spread of the coronavirus pandemic were eased, Bloomberg reported.

Absa Group Ltd’s Purchasing Managers’ Index, compiled by the Bureau for Economic Research, rose to 50.2 from 46.1 in April.

The headline PMI was also pushed up by the supplier deliveries subcomponent, even though it reflected production delays rather than an uptick in activity, Absa said.

“In normal times, an order that takes longer to be delivered is indicative of increased demand by the manufacturing sector for inputs in the production process,” the Johannesburg-based lender said. “Covid-19-related production stoppages disrupted the supply chain to such an extent that deliveries took longer to arrive even without increased demand.”

While South Africa further eased lockdown restrictions from Monday by moving to alert level 3, which allows most businesses including steel mills, factories and all retail outlets to reopen, factory output is unlikely to return to pre-lockdown levels because some supply-chain disruptions persist, Absa said.

The potential resumption of power outages driven by an increase in activity could also affect a recovery, the lender said. The subindex measuring expected business conditions remained below 50, even as the reading of 47.5 was the highest since July.

Estimates from the National Treasury show South Africa’s GDP could contract by as much as 16.1% this year, depending on how long it takes to contain the virus and for the economy to recover.


Read: ANC to use coronavirus pandemic to push other changes in South Africa: economists

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34,357 confirmed coronavirus cases in South Africa as deaths rise to 705