Coronavirus morning update: Longer lockdown, presidential pay cut, but what about the economy?

WHAT'S HAPPENING IN SA

Cases update: 

The latest number of confirmed cases is 1 934.

No further deaths were recorded according to the latest update - there have been 18 deaths in the country so far.

So far, 68 874 tests have been conducted.

READ MORE |All the confirmed cases of coronavirus in SA

Latest news:

President Cyril Ramaphosa has extended the lockdown to fight the spread of the coronavirus.

In an evening address on Thursday, Ramaphosa personally thanked South Africans for adhering to the strict measures and lockdown regulations already in place, saying the battle to flatten the curve was far from over.

The lockdown, which was due to end 16 April, will now be in effect until 30 April.

"This evening, I stand before you to ask you to endure even longer. I have to ask you to make even greater sacrifices so that our country may survive this crisis and so that tens of thousands of lives may be saved," said Ramaphosa in his address.

READ MORE | This is a matter of survival, and we dare not fail, says Ramaphosa as he extends lockdown

President Cyril Ramaphosa has called on public office bearers and executives of large companies to take pay cuts and contribute to the Solidarity Fund which will go towards mobilising resources to combat the coronavirus pandemic. 

Ramaphosa made this plea when he addressed the nation on Thursday night to announce a further two-week extension of the national lockdown. 

He announced he, together with his Cabinet, deputy ministers and premiers would take a one-third cut in their salaries for the next three months which would be donated to the fund.

It had so far raised around R2.2 billion, with half of that already allocated to buy gloves, face shields, surgical masks, test kits and ventilators, Ramaphosa said.

READ MORE | Ramaphosa takes pay cut, calls on MPs, public officials and execs to do the same

The extension of the lockdown by two weeks will deepen the South African economy's recession, according to an economist.

President Cyril Ramaphosa on Thursday evening addressed the nation, where he announced that the lockdown would be extended to the end of April to help slow down the spread of the virus. The president said he was mindful of the impact it would have on the economy, and added that Cabinet was still working on a "comprehensive package" of economic support measures.

"Unless we hold this course a little longer - this coronavirus pandemic will engulf and consume economy. We all want the economy to come back to life," he said.

But the damage to the South African economy is already done, whether the lockdown was extended or not, according to economist Dr Azar Jammine, who spoke to Fin24 by phone following the president's address.

READ MORE | 'Damage was already done' to SA economy, even before lockdown extension - analyst

Seven people have been arrested following the looting of a liquor store in Elsies River on Thursday morning - one of four instances where alcohol was pillaged from businesses across the Western Cape in the last 24 hours.

Police spokesperson Brigadier Novela Potelwa said the authorities had responded to the Avonwood Mall, where a liquor store had been broken into.

"Several suspects are alleged to have gained entry to the store by breaking a door open and they looted bottles of alcohol," she added.

"A tracing operation in the area resulted in the arrest of seven suspects between the ages of 18 and 33. They have been charged with burglary and theft."

READ MORE | Western Cape hit by 4 liquor store lootings in just 24 hours

WHAT'S HAPPENING IN THE REST OF THE WORLD 

Cases update:

For the latest global data, follow this interactive map from Johns Hopkins University & Medicine.

Late on Thursday night, cases worldwide were more than 1 580 000, while deaths are more than 94 000.

The United States had more than 454 000 cases while Spain had more than 152 000.

Italy had the most deaths, with more than 18 000.

READ MORE | All the confirmed cases worldwide

Latest news:

UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson on Thursday left intensive care after three days of treatment for Covid-19, his office said.

"The Prime Minister has been moved this evening from intensive care back to the ward, where he will receive close monitoring during the early phase of his recovery," a statement said.

"He is in extremely good spirits," it added.

The 55-year-old Prime Minister had received "standard oxygen treatment" after he was transferred to the intensive care unit at London's St Thomas's hospital on Monday, his spokesperson said earlier.

READ MORE | Boris Johnson out of Covid-19 intensive care

Taiwan demanded an apology Thursday from the World Health Organization chief after he accused the island's government of leading personal attacks against him and his agency's response to the coronavirus pandemic.

WHO director-general Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus called Wednesday for unity to fight the disease after US President Donald Trump criticised the global health body and threatened to cut its funding.

During a press conference Tedros spoke of receiving death threats and the abuse - including racial slurs - he had been subjected to since the public health crisis began.

He largely avoided mentioning Trump by name but did single out the government in Taipei, which has been frozen out of the WHO after political pressure from Beijing.

READ MORE | Covid-19: Taiwan demands apology from WHO chief for 'slander'

LATEST RESEARCH

Newborns with Covid-19 may get by with only mild infection symptoms, a small, new study suggests.

Researchers at Wuhan University in China identified four newborns with the Covid-19 coronavirus. All were born to mothers with Covid-19 and delivered by Caesarean section. Three were separated from their mothers at birth.

None of the babies developed serious symptoms or required intensive care or mechanical ventilation, according to the study in the European Respiratory Journal.

"Covid-19 is highly contagious and our study suggests that intrauterine transmission cannot be ruled out, but that the prognosis is good for both pregnant women and newborn babies," study author Zhi-Jiang Zhang said in a journal news release. He is an associate professor in epidemiology.

READ MORE | Newborns with Covid-19 may suffer only mild symptoms

HEALTH TIPS (as recommended by the NICD and WHO)

• Maintain physical distancing – stay at least one metre away from somebody who is coughing or sneezing

• Practise frequent hand-washing, especially after direct contact with ill people or their environment

• Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth, as your hands touch many surfaces and could potentially transfer the virus

• Practise respiratory hygiene – cover your mouth with your bent elbow or tissue when you cough or sneeze. Remember to dispose the tissue immediately after use.

READ MORE: Coronavirus 101 

Image credit: Getty Images
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