Inside Covid-19: SA, Cape infections, deaths in perspective; Schools re-opening global experience. Ep 44

In Episode 44 of Inside Covid-19, we examine the Western Cape’s infection and mortality rates, compare them with experiences elsewhere; after schools opened today, we take a close look at how this impacted the spread of the coronavirus in other countries; highlights from a fascinating interview with Stellenbosch University epidemiologist Dr Jo Barnes who warns against believing Pollyanna forecasts for SA; we visit Madrid which reopened restaurants and café’s today and take heart from experiences elsewhere in Europe where life is slowly returning to normal. – Alec Hogg

In the Covid-19 headlines today:

  • South Africa’s Covid-19 mortalities have now risen to over 1,000, with four in five in the Western Cape, the national epicentre. Graphs published by Johns Hopkins University includes the country among those where the pandemic is accelerating, with South Africa’s five day moving average of confirmed new cases increasing at the same rate as in the global hotspots of Brazil, Chile, Mexico and India. South Africa’s total cases are now close to 50,000, again with the vast majority of them in the Western Cape, whose infection rates are in line with the peak in London, but well below the US epicentre of New York. The credibility of South Africa’s official numbers is high, says Discovery Health’s Ron Whelan, as they are mirrored by the internal data from the health insurer’s own client base.
  • Globally there have now been a total of more than 7m coronavirus cases with just over 400,000 deaths. The USA, at 112,500 deaths, is still far and away the hardest hit nation, but with daily mortalities at 373, it has now been surpassed by Chile, which recorded 649 deaths on Sunday, and Brazil, at 542. The two South American countries, neighbour Colombia and nearby Mexico are still on a rising mortality curve along with India, Pakistan, Bangladesh and Indonesia. At the other end, The Johns Hopkins graphics shows pronounced declining trends in the UK, Italy, France and Canada.
  • New York, the US’s largest city and Covid-19 epicentre, began re-opening today after more than two months of lockdown. The construction, agriculture, manufacturing and wholesale trades were allowed to re-open, with retailers allowed to offer curbside and in-store pickups. The Wall Street Journal reports that 16.000 non-essential retail businesses and 3,700 manufacturing companies re-opened today, but with all insisting on mandatory face masks and temperature checks.
  • Asset management company Ninety One and private equity firm Ethos today launched a R10bn fund to help high quality medium sized South African businesses starved of capital by the Covid-19 crisis. The fund focuses on businesses with turnovers north of R300m which need funds to expand or to overcome short-term liquidity challenges. Chief commercial officer John Green told Biznews today that the South African institutional investors approached ahead of the launch have been largely supportive of the project. An application is also being made to the authorities to enable retail investors to participate in a long-term fund which will be structured like a closed unit trust.