Health minister Dr Zweli Mkhize has announced that South Africa’s confirmed cases of coronavirus has moved to 2,605 – an increase of 99 cases from before.

The total number of deaths has also climbed to 48, he said, noting that Limpopo and the Eastern Cape recorded their first deaths. The country has recorded 21 deaths from the disease in the past two days.

The total number of tests conducted to date is at 95,060.

Globally, coronavirus cases continue to climb, moving past 2.1 million people infected, with around 140,000 deaths, and 526,000 recoveries.

The UK is expected to extend its nationwide lockdown even as pressure builds on the government to map out a strategy for easing the restrictions amid signs the country may soon be past the peak of the pandemic, Bloomberg reported.

The number of cases there passed 100,000, along with 861 new deaths, while new infections also climbed in Spain and Germany, where the government plans to keep most of the restrictive measures in place.

Asia grappled with a new wave of cases, with Singapore reporting its highest daily increase.

US president Donald Trump meanwhile, said he will unveil guidelines to relax stay-at-home rules on Thursday, citing signs that the outbreak is plateauing in parts of the country.

More than 5 million Americans filed for unemployment benefits last week, bringing the total in the month since the coronavirus pandemic throttled the US economy to 22 million and effectively erasing a decade worth of job creation, Bloomberg reported.

Initial jobless claims of 5.25 million in the week ended April 11 followed 6.62 million the prior week, according to Labor Department figures Thursday.

South Africa prepares for ‘incremental’ lifting of lockdown

Minister of Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs (CoGTA), Dr Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma, has announced revised regulations for South Africa’s lockdown.

In a media briefing on Thursday (16 April), Dlamini-Zuma said that the lockdown will be lifted in an incremental manner and that restrictions will remain in place even once the lockdown is lifted.

“Because we are going to be opening the lockdown in an orderly matter, we will be naming the areas which will opened from the lockdown,” said Dlamini-Zuma. “The lockdown cannot be stopped abruptly.”

Because of this, Dlamini-Zuma said the new regulations are mainly an ‘addition’ to the current regulations which were first introduced before the lockdown was extended.

Some of the new changes include:

  • The transportation of essential goods are permitted from warehousing sites to essential service providers with the exception of the transportation of liquor;
  • Plumbers and electricians will be allowed to visit homes to fix broken utilities;
  • ICT professionals are now considered essential workers where they assist essential services using technology;
  • Retail call centres are now considered part of essential services because of the work they do around short-term insurance and store accounts;
  • Stores selling hardware products & vehicle components may open but must maintain a register of persons buying essential goods listed in Part A of Annexure B of the Regulations, and must keep a record of a signed declaration;
  • A person requesting for a permit to attend a funeral must produce a death certificate, a certified copy of the death certificate, or a digital copy of the death certificate to the head of court or to a station commander;
  • Restrictions on exports have been eased so that the country’s ports are not congested when the lockdown is lifted;
  • The only alcohol which may be transported is for commercial purposes such as hand sanitisers;
  • All the mines that supply Eskom must be fully operational and refineries should work at full capacity;
  • The introduction of strict conditions around the screening and testing of miners who return to work.

Recovery plan

Cabinet held a special virtual meeting on Wednesday (15 April) to discuss the country’s socio-economic recovery plan after the Covid-19 national lockdown, but ultimately did not make a firm decision on the plans it was presented.

The meeting follows an announcement made by president Cyril Ramaphosa, who said that the cabinet would have a full discussion to come up with an economic recovery plan for the country.

Cabinet received five presentations from the various clusters, including:

  • Economic Sectors, Investment, Employment and Infrastructure Development;
  • Governance, State Capacity and Institutional Development;
  • Social Protection, Community and Human Development;
  • International Cooperation, Trade and Security;
  • Justice, Crime Prevention and Security.

All the Cabinet clusters have been asked to work together to produce one consolidated document on key priorities of the country’s economic recovery plan, to be completed before the next cabinet meeting scheduled to take place on Monday (20 April).

Read: New regulations as South Africa prepares for ‘incremental’ lifting of lockdown