Covid-19 deaths exceed 150; SA business confidence plunges to all-time low; Zoom porn hack in Parliament; Sappi

By Jackie Cameron

  • The number of Covid-19 deaths reported to the authorities in South Africa now exceeds more than 150 and the number of confirmed cases has risen to more than 7,800 – relatively small numbers compared to the United States and countries in Europe.
  • SA business confidence plunged to an all-time low in April, as Covid-19 containment measures brought economic activity to a near standstill. A sentiment index compiled by the South African Chamber of Commerce and Industry fell to 77.8 from 89.9 the previous month. That’s the lowest since the index started in 1985 and even worse than the median estimate of 80 by three economists in a Bloomberg survey. South Africa implemented one of the world’s most severe lockdowns on March 27. Although restrictions have eased, there are calls from business to do much more to re-start the economy. The national treasury has warned that gross domestic product could contract by at least 16% this year and more than 7 million jobs could be lost, depending on how long it takes to contain the virus.
  • A major security risk has been identified with Zoom, after Zoom hackers hurled porn at South African parliamentarians. A virtual meeting of the National Assembly’s programming committee had to be postponed after it was hacked and graphic pornographic images were shown, reports Eyewitness News. Insults were also hurled at National Assembly Speaker Thandi Modise who was due to chair the meeting. Shocked MPs were greeted with the offensive images as they joined the Zoom meeting shortly before it was due to start at 9am on Thursday. Apart from the pornographic images that were flashed across the screen, disembodied voices also hurled racial insults at Modise and urged her to bare her breasts, writes Gaye Davis, who told how MPs described the incident as “sick” and “disturbing”. Modise told MPs that a meeting on the Zoom platform at Britain’s House of Commons had also been hacked, says the website.
  • US equities climbed alongside stocks in Europe on Thursday, while Sappi was the best performer on the Johannesburg Stock Exchange. Three of the main US equity benchmarks opened higher after a mixed session on Wednesday. News that top US and Chinese negotiators will speak as soon as next week on trade helped boost sentiment, says Bloomberg.
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