Covid-19 deaths at 1,000; it REALLY is back to school this week – Motshekga; game viewing allowed; Africa stocks soar

By Jackie Cameron

  • About 1,000 people (952 as of 6 June) have now died of Covid-19 in South Africa, with nearly all of these in the Western Cape – which has reported nearly 800 deaths, says the government. The Eastern Cape has the second-highest death toll, with more than 100 people reported to have died of the novel coronavirus. The government reports that although the numbers of Covid-19 related deaths are rising, the country’s mortality rate remains at 2%, well below the global average of 6%. The recoveries to date are 24,258, it said at the weekend, noting that this translates to a recovery rate of 52,8%. Just under 46,000 people had tested positive for Covid-19 as of the 6th of June.
  • As confusion reigns over when pupils can get back to school, the Minister of Basic Education, Angie Motshekga together with MECs of Education hosted a media briefing on the state of readiness for the reopening of schools. In a nutshell, this week sees the start of the phasing in of learning, with plans being made to accommodate children where schools are not adequately prepared to minimise the risk of Covid-19 contagion. Mathanzima Mweli, Director-General for Basic Education, said 13% of the 13m learners would be returning to school this week. Listen to Motshekga explain the delays and plans for re-opening schools.
  • Good news as we head into winter: Game viewing is now allowed in SA, with South Africa National Parks (SANParks) announcing that self-drive excursions for day visitors will be permitted from Monday, 8th June 2020, reports “We appreciate that after two months of confinement, the public is keen to engage with nature and the excitement as shown by enquiries from our loyal visitors is encouraging,” said SANParks CEO Fundisile Mketeni. Health protocols will include limiting face-to-face contact between staff and guests by encouraging online and telephonic day visit bookings, says the website. In its trending story, it says that the majority of gates at Kruger National Park will be open with the exception of Pafuri and Numbi gates. Gate quotas for Kruger have been revised to approximately one third of what they were prior to Covid-19, with time slots for arrival. Namaqua National Park as well as Boulders and Cape Point in Table Mountain National Park remain closed for the meantime.
  • Investors are piling into African assets as if the coronavirus pandemic never happened, reports Bloomberg. Seven of the 12 top-performing developing-nation bond markets this quarter are in Africa, it says. The list includes Angola, which leads the pack with a return of 74% compared with the 9.5% average of peers – even though it’s in discussions to reorganize some of its loans. Currencies like Ghana’s cedi and Zambia’s kwacha have recovered from record lows against the dollar, as has South Africa’s rand, whose 10% gain since the beginning of May is bested only by Mexico’s peso among emerging-market peers, continues the news service. “Stock markets have joined the party. South Africa’s benchmark index has led the pack with a leap of 44% from a low on March 19, while Namibia’s has climbed 41% and Nigeria’s 14%. Standard Bank’s measure of African equities has rebounded 36%. That’s despite evidence that the worst of the pandemic is still to come in Africa, where a number of economies have eased restrictions aimed at preventing its spread.” This comes even the six biggest African economies will see gross domestic product contract by an average of 4.5% this year. That, says Bloomberg, suggests markets could be in for pain once the current rally has run its course.
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