Health Minister Dr Zweli Mkhize has announced that there are now 21,343 confirmed cases of coronavirus in South Africa. This is an increase of 1,218 cases from the 20,125 cases reported on Friday, and is the highest reported 24-hour increase in infections to date. Dr Mkhize said on Saturday (23 May), that the total number of deaths has now reached 407 – an increase of 10 deaths from 397 reported before.
The minister said that 564,370 tests have been conducted, with 21,338 tests in the past 24-hour cycle. President Cyril Ramaphosa will address the nation at 19h00 on Sunday 24 May 2020, on developments in South Africa’s risk-adjusted strategy to manage the spread of Covid-19.
Globally, coronavirus cases topped 5.3 million globally on Saturday, while deaths have exceeded 340,000, with nearly 2.2 million recoveries. Japan’s state of emergency is nearing its end with new cases of the coronavirus dwindling to mere dozens. It got there despite largely ignoring the default playbook, Bloomberg reported.
No restrictions were placed on residents’ movements, and businesses from restaurants to hairdressers stayed open. The country doesn’t have a centre for disease control. And even as nations were exhorted to “test, test, test,” Japan has tested just 0.2% of its population – one of the lowest rates among developed countries.
Yet the curve has been flattened, with deaths well below 1,000, by far the fewest among the Group of Seven developed nations. Just by looking at death numbers, you can say Japan was successful,” said Mikihito Tanaka, a professor at Waseda University specializing in science communication, and a member of a public advisory group of experts on the virus. “But even experts don’t know the reason.
Experts are credited with creating an easy-to-understand message of avoiding what are called the “Three C’s” – closed spaces, crowded spaces and close-contact settings – rather than keeping away from others entirely, Bloomberg said. Infectious disease experts also pointed to other determinants including Japanese people’s health consciousness as possibly the most important factor.
— Department of Health: COVID-19 (@COVID_19_ZA) May 23, 2020
The possibility that the virus strain spreading in Japan may have been different, and less dangerous, to that faced by other nations, has also been raised. S&P Global Ratings has warned that the Covid-19 epidemic will weigh heavily on South Africa’s GDP growth, and expects the country’s economy to shrink by 4.5% in 2020. In April, S&P downgraded South Africa’s credit rating further into non-investment-grade territory, citing the same reason – fallout from the coronavirus. South Africa is caught in the grip of a strict lockdown which has been in place for nearly nine weeks, leaving many businesses and individuals without an income.
“Covid-19 will weigh heavily on GDP growth given the strict domestic lockdown that has shut down much of the economy, the markedly weaker external demand outlook, and tighter credit conditions,” S&P said in a research note. South Africa fell into a recession even before the first case of the coronavirus was detected in the country, and GDP projections deteriorated after the government imposed a lockdown on March 27.
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