Health minister Dr Zweli Mkhize has announced that there are now a total of 538,184 cases of coronavirus in South Africa.

This is an increase of 8,307 cases from the 529,877 infections reported previously.

The data shows that there are 306 new Covid-19 related deaths, taking the total to 9,604 casualties, following 414 deaths reported on Wednesday.

Dr Mkhize pointed to 387,316 recoveries to date.

A total of 3.15 million tests have been conducted, with 36,616 tests conducted over the past 24 hours, the minister said.

Since 31 December 2019 and as of 6 August 2020, approximately 19 million cases of Covid-19 have been reported, including around 712,000 deaths.

The data pointed to approximately 12.2 million recoveries to date.

An increase in coronavirus cases across Europe threatens to snuff out hopes of a quick recovery, Bloomberg reported.

Spain, Germany and France all recorded jumps in the number of people infected with the virus this week.

At the same time, a slew of companies across the continent announced jobs cuts, with industries from travel and hospitality to banking and insurance reeling from the pandemic, it said.

Growing concern in South African politics

South African business leaders are growing increasingly concerned that the government doesn’t have the will or capacity to overcome the economic devastation wrought by the coronavirus pandemic, Bloomberg said.

Business for South Africa, an alliance of the nation’s main business groups also known as B4SA, expects the economy to contract as much as 10% this year and has spent the past four months drafting a plan to get it back on track.

About 250 experts worked for free on the proposals that could potentially add R1 trillion ($58 billion) to gross domestic product, but they have gained limited traction with the authorities so far.

“My confidence in the government implementing this is very low,” Busi Mavuso, the chief executive officer of Business Leadership South Africa, which forms part of B4SA, said in an online briefing with Bloomberg. “I can’t say the government jumped for joy in receiving it.”

The government could have done a better job in managing the lockdown and the ensuing fallout, Cas Coovadia, the CEO of Business Unity South Africa, another B4SA member, said at the same briefing. Still, he said the business groups had supported the need for a lockdown.

If all the work that business has done on how to orchestrate a revival “goes to waste because of inaction, history will judge us,” he said.

“The ball very much does lie in the government’s court. Leadership has got to come from government.”

“We are always announcing plans,” said Kganki Matabane, the CEO of the Black Business Council. “There is no action that follows the words. We need to find a way to put more pressure on government to start implementing and stop talking.”

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