COVID-19 WRAP | Ramaphosa announces 'massive' economic relief package as death toll rises to 58

21 April 2020 - 08:44 By TimesLIVE
President Cyril Ramaphosa addressing the nation on Tuesday evening.
President Cyril Ramaphosa addressing the nation on Tuesday evening.
Image: GCIS / Supplied

Below is a wrap of the main events around the Covid-19 pandemic on Tuesday, April 21.

April 21 2020 - 22:47

IMF, World Bank to help SA fund coronavirus relief budget

President Cyril Ramaphosa's government has gone cap in hand to multilateral finance institutions to seek funds to help fund the country's R500bn economic and social relief package to mitigate the effects of the Covid-19 pandemic on the country's economy and its citizens.

In yet another televised address to the nation on Tuesday night, Ramaphosa said his government would reprioritise its budget for the 2020/2021 financial year in order to find R130bn needed to finance the “extraordinary coronavirus budget” amounting to R500bn — or 10% of the GDP.

April 21 2020 - 22:25

Billions set aside to save jobs and revive economy as coronavirus bites

The government will introduce a R200bn loan guarantee scheme in a bid to assist enterprises with operational costs such as salaries, rent and the payment of suppliers.

The scheme was in partnership with major banks, the National Treasury and the SA Reserve Bank.

April 21 2020 - 21:48

New 'coronavirus grant' to help desperate South Africans

President Cyril Ramaphosa has announced an increase in social grants, including a new coronavirus grant.

The new grant, announced on Tuesday night, is for those who are not recipients of social grants and who have no income.

April 21 2020 - 21:37

IN FULL | President Cyril Ramaphosa's speech on R500bn rescue package and Covid-19 lockdown ending in phases

My Fellow South Africans,

It is 25 days since South Africa began a nation-wide lockdown to contain the spread of the coronavirus. It has demanded of you great fortitude and endurance.

It has caused you much suffering and required much sacrifice.Once again, I salute you and I thank you.

April 21 2020 - 21:27

Thursday is D-Day for SA's plans to ease lockdown

South Africans will know on Thursday about the government's plans to ease the nationwide lockdown.

Speaking on Tuesday night, President Cyril Ramaphosa announced a massive R500bn economic package to help the country deal with the implications of the coronavirus and its spread through the country.

April 21 2020 - 21:02

The lifting of the lockdown will be done in phases

On the end of the lockdown, "we will follow a phased approach", said Ramaphosa, adding that he would address the nation on Thursday on how that will be implemented.

"We will do whatever it takes to recover...from this crisis. Our country will never be the same again."

South Africa wanted to forge a new economy in a new global reality, he said.

Ramaphosa said that in taking a "risk adjusted approach" to getting the economy restarted, the balance would be between limiting the spread of the virus "with the need to get people back to work”.

"As I've said before, if we end the lockdown too soon or too abruptly, we risk a massive and uncontrollable resurgence of the disease. We will, therefore, follow a phased approach, based on the best available scientific information to gradually lift the restrictions on economic activity.

"We remain firm in our resolution to contain the transmission of the virus. We must act with agility and flexibility in the the weeks and months ahead."

April 21 2020 - 20:53

Increase announced in child support grants

Child support grant beneficiaries will receive an extra R300 in May and from June to October, an additional R500 each month. All other grant beneficiaries will receive an extra R250 per month. A distress grant of R350 for the next six months will be paid to people who are unemployed and who do not receive other payments. 

Also, Ramaphosa announced that funds would be set aside to help with the creation of jobs.

“Despite several interventions to deal with extremely high unemployment … these are not enough. The corona will lead to many people losing their jobs. An additional R100bn will be set aside for protection of jobs, and to create jobs.”

April 21 2020 - 20:45

Ramaphosa says pandemic has damaged economy

The pandemic has "disrupted lives" and "damaged the economy". It has caused a sudden loss of income, deepened poverty and increased hunger, Ramaphosa said in an address to the nation on Tuesday evening.

But indications were that we were still in the early stages of the pandemic, he added.

This was why, he said, an extraordinary budget was required to deal with the socio-economic impact of the pandemic, announcing a R500bn assistance package.

Temporary 6-month coronavirus grants for those most desperately affected by the virus.

child support grant beneficia receive extra R300 inMay and from June to Octoer an additional R500 each month all other grant beneficiaryies will receive an extra R250 per month. A distress grant of R350 for the next six months will be paid to people who are unemployed and who do not receive other payments. 

April 21 2020 - 20:30

Ramaphosa wants 73,000 more soldiers on SA streets, costing R4.59bn

President Cyril Ramaphosa is reportedly set to deploy over 73,000 more soldiers onto SA's streets, at a cost of R4.59bn.

This was revealed in a letter to MPs sitting in the defence portfolio committee.

April 21 2020 - 19:22

Mediclinic Morningside reports 69 new Covid-19 cases

Mediclinic has revealed a sharp increase in the number of people who have tested positive for the coronavirus at their Morningside facility in Johannesburg.

Last week, the hospital issued a statement saying that four patients and 15 staff members had tested positive. Nine of the 15 staff members were health care workers.

April 21 2020 - 19:12

Cyril Ramaphosa to address SA at 8.30pm

President Cyril Ramaphosa is set to address the nation at 8.30pm, the presidency said.

In a statement, his spokesperson Khusela Diko said that the address would be about the "additional economic and social relief measures that form part of the national response to the Covid-19 pandemic".

April 21 2020 - 18:41

Western Cape expecting 80,000 Covid-19 infections, says premier

The Western Cape expects to have a shortfall of 750 critical care beds if the province hits an estimated peak of 80,000 Covid-19 infections, premier Alan Winde said on Tuesday.

To avoid this shortfall and “accommodate people as they get sicker and sicker”, everyone must practise hand-washing, social distancing and avoid gatherings as they move out of full lockdown into what is likely to be a phased lifting of lockdown, he said.

April 21 2020 - 18:15

Health minister Dr Zweli Mkhize on Tuesday confirmed that there had been a jump of 165 Covid-19 cases in SA in the last 24 hours. Speaking the Eastern Cape on Tuesday, he said there were now 3,465 cases, up from 3,300.

April 21 2020 - 18:13

Government to ease lockdown to allow sale of winter clothes and stationery - but stands firm on cooked hot food

The government is planning to allow retailers to reopen for business so citizens can buy winter clothes, stationery and other goods that up to now have not been deemed as essential.

This is according to co-operative governance minister Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma, whose department is responsible for drafting the national lockdown regulations in terms of the Disaster Management Act.

But Dlamini-Zuma defended the "no hot food" rule, saying it was unfair to fast food outlets that have been stopped from trading since the start of the lockdown on March 26.

April 21 2020 - 17:16

Winter initiation season suspended during lockdown

Congress of Traditional Leaders of South Africa (Contralesa) secretary-general Zolani Mkiva has confirmed that the institution's national executive committee (NEC), led by its president, Kgosi Mathupa Mokoena, has decided to suspend the winter initiation season.

Speaking to DispatchLIVE in Nqadu, Willowvale, in the Eastern Cape, during health minister Dr Zweli Mkhize's visit on Tuesday, Mkiva described 2020 as an unusual year not only for South Africans but for the whole world because of the Covid-19 pandemic.

April 21 2020 - 16:52

SA must transition to soft lockdown to escape economic crisis: economist

SA has to find a way to exit the hard lockdown as a matter of urgency because a continuation would amount to “unsustainable madness”.

This is the view expressed by economist Mike Schussler when he addressed a virtual briefing hosted by the Institute of Race Relations about the economic impact of Covid-19.

He said extending a hard lockdown — which began on March 27 and is expected to last until the end of April — would see more South Africans pushed into poverty.

April 21 2020 - 16:32

Nurses refuse to treat Covid-19 patients without protective equipment

Glen Grey Provincial Hospital nurses have refused to help coronavirus patients who were rushed from Cala to the hospital in Cacadu at the weekend.

A video sent by nurses to DispatchLIVE shows staff standing outside the hospital building in a show of defiance. The nurses said they will not treat the infected patients until they receive personal protection equipment (PPE).

April 21 2020 - 16:28

April 21 2020 - 15:56

ANC MP shut down during virtual meeting for joking about booze

If you're having withdrawal symptoms caused by the shortage of alcohol due to the booze ban, don't worry - you're not alone. Even our lawmakers are struggling to control their thirst.

ANC MP Robert Mashego could not hold himself on Tuesday and complained that the background of his colleague Enock Mthethwa was making him “thirsty” during a virtual portfolio committee meeting.

April 21 2020 - 15:43

Gauteng cop prays for pastor before arresting him for breaking lockdown rules

Social media users have saluted and praised a police officer captured praying before arresting a pastor for contravening the Disaster Management Act.

The clip, shared widely on social media, shows the officer saying a short prayer before handcuffing the offending pastor.

April 21 2020 - 15:34

Coronavirus likely of animal origin, no sign of lab manipulation, says WHO

The World Health Organisation (WHO) said on Tuesday that all available evidence suggests the novel coronavirus originated in animals in China late last year and was not manipulated or produced in a laboratory.

US President Donald Trump said last week that his government was trying to determine whether the virus emanated from a lab in the central Chinese city of Wuhan, where the coronavirus pandemic emerged in December.

April 21 2020 - 15:24

From slow rate of Covid-19 infections to intensified inequality: six lockdown moments in SA

SA has put in place what has been described as one of the most stringent lockdowns outside the epicentre of the coronavirus pandemic, China, to try to stop the spread of the virus.

While there have been many positive moments of South Africans coming together during this stressful time, the lockdown also highlighted issues that include the pre-existence of the country's inequalities.

April 21 2020 - 15:22

Kitty and Puppy Haven pleads for donations during lockdown - 'we don't want this sanctuary to disappear'

Kitty and Puppy Haven, an animal shelter in Midrand, Gauteng, is pleading for donations so it is able to continue operations for the duration of the lockdown.

The sanctuary has been taking care of homeless and abused animals for 20 years by providing them with medical care and shelter while they await adoption.

April 21 2020 - 14:48

AfriForum court challenge over 'racist' Covid-19 aid postponed to next week

AfriForum's legal challenge to the race criteria used to determine which businesses score state-sponsored Covid-19 relief bailouts, has been postponed to next week.

The Pretoria high court on Tuesday ruled that the organisation's urgent application for review against the department of tourism’s use of race as a benchmark for the awarding of Covid-19 relief to tourism enterprises be heard on April 28.

April 21 2020 - 13:53

WATCH | 300 drones light up sky to honour Covid-19 medical workers

April 21 2020 - 13:52

New preliminary study shows Covid-19 death rate could be much lower than we thought

A new study, still to be reviewed, tells us that a great many more South Africans than we realise have been infected with SARS-CoV-2 and are asymptomatic, and that the infection’s mortality rate is much lower than we thought.

SARS-CoV-2 is the virus that causes the disease Covid-19.

April 21 2020 - 13:23

Trade and industry minister spells out his beef with sale of cooked hot meals

Trade and industry minister Ebrahim Patel has explained government thinking around the ban on cooked hot meals, saying it boiled down to limiting how the coronavirus was spread.

A heated debate continues over the ban on cooked hot meals being served by supermarkets, restaurants and informal traders around the country. The government is facing a legal challenge to the regulations.

April 21 2020 - 13:22

Say cheerio to home-brewed beer as manufacturer cuts yeast supply

Southern Africa's leading yeast manufacturer, Anchor Yeast, is immediately halting supplies of its 20g "Inkunzi malanga” brewers yeast which can be used to make beer at home.

A message about the withdrawal sent to retail shops by the company has made its way into the online public domain.

Joanne Clarke, director of consumer relations at Anchor Yeast, said on Tuesday that not all of the company's yeast products would be absent from shelves.

April 21 2020 - 13:21

Mom on lockdown: work e-time mixed with pancakes, playtime & schooling

With SA's 35-day Covid-19 lockdown in full force, thousands of South Africans are working from home while juggling parenting duties — learning patience along with home schooling.

The McKay family have two sons — one in grade 4 and one in grade R and both parents have been working from home during the lockdown.

Briathrine McKay told TimesLIVE on Tuesday that her sons’ schools send them weekly activities to do.

April 21 2020 13:20

Gauteng reports more Covid-19 recoveries, but another patient dies to take death toll to seven

The Gauteng health department said on Tuesday the number of Covid-19 patient recoveries in the province was standing at 574, from 551 a day ago.

The province has recorded seven  deaths, up one from Monday. No details were provided.

The total number of confirmed Covid-19 cases in Gauteng is 1,170.

April 21 2020 - 12:40

Sabotage, says SANDF over changed expiry dates on soldiers' ration packs

The defence force (SANDF) has laid a charge of fraud against the suppliers of food packs after discovering that “expired” meals were given to military personnel deployed on lockdown duties.  

This was revealed when soldiers discovered that stickers with revised expiry dates had been placed over the original stickers on the packs.

April 21 2020 - 12:40

Ramaphosa to meet with African business leaders to discuss impact of Covid-19

April 21 2020 - 12:29

Mbalula sends condolences to SANDF soldier who died in roadblock collision

April 21 2020 - 12:23

Trump says will halt immigration due to coronavirus

President Donald Trump said Monday that he would temporarily suspend immigration to the United States because of the coronavirus pandemic, despite the US already being the worst-hit country in the world.

Trump referred to the "Invisible Enemy," a phrase he has used to describe the virus that has killed more than 42,000 people in the US, which has more than 766,660 infections.

April 21 2020 - 12:22

Free State reports more than 70 Covid-19 recoveries, patients to be reunited with families

The Free State has more than 70 patients who have recovered from Covid-19 and will be released from health facilities, the provincial department of health said on Tuesday.

Department spokesperson Mondli Mvambi said 74 patients had fully recovered and would be reunited with their families.   

“We are monitoring these patients regularly through our health professionals to ensure they do not find themselves reinfected,” he said.  

On Monday evening the national department of health reported that the province had 105 confirmed cases.

April 21 2020 - 12:20

Durban woman with Covid-19 gives birth to 'positive' baby

A Durban woman who tested positive for Covid-19 when she was admitted to hospital for the birth of her baby last week is recovering at home with her newborn, who also tested positive for the virus after delivery.

The Ahmed Al Kadi private hospital confirmed on its social media platform on Monday that "an expectant mother has given birth to a baby who tested positive for Covid-19".

Board chairman Dr Ayoob Bux said in a radio interview that the woman was well when she was admitted for a Caesarean section birth last week.

April 21 2020 - 12:15

Expect 45,000 deaths and two to three years of intermittent lockdowns, says expert

Up to 45,000 South Africans are expected to die from Covid-19 over the next two to three years, says one of the eminent doctors advising President Cyril Ramaphosa.

This is a shocking number, but it is much lower than an earlier estimate of between 120,000 and 150,000 fatalities.

April 21 2020 - 10:55

The cooked hot food ban has Mzansi all riled up: 'So if we leave the amagwina to cool, we can buy it? Tsek'

The government on Monday formally banned the sale of hot cooked food.

Last week questions over comments made by trade and industry minister Ebrahim Patel over the sale of hot cooked food raised eyebrows after it was pointed out the regulations had not been made formal.

April 21 2020 - 10:53

WATCH | Wedding bells ring on Skype for Johannesburg couple

When a Johannesburg couple began planning their wedding nine months ago, they never imagined that internet connectivity would be the most important detail on the day they said “I do”.

Lennin Naidoo and Nattalean Pillay got married over Skype on Sunday with the marriage officiate sitting in his office in his Durban home, their parents watching via their cellphones from the spot with the best internet reception and the bride and groom in their living room.

April 21 2020 - 10:06

Covid-19 capacity report

April 21 2020 - 09:55

Ramaphosa to address nation on Tuesday night on Covid-19 relief

"President’s address flows from recent deliberations at Cabinet, the national coronavirus command council, the President’s coordinating council, and the national economic development and labour council, among others."

April 21 2020 - 09:42

'There is no lockdown here': Diepsloot residents won't stay home as hunger sets in

Diepsloot residents are continuing with life as though the country is not under lockdown.

In the swirl of cars and the routine army patrol in Diepsloot, Johannesburg, a woman is getting her hair braided, young men sit, relaxed, outside their shacks. Others stand in long queues.

Resident, Lebo Mphela says she would rather roam the streets and “hustle” than stay indoors, starve and wait for food parcels.

Police and members of SANDF patrolled Setjwetla, an informal settlement, in Alexandra on April 20 2020.
Police and members of SANDF patrolled Setjwetla, an informal settlement, in Alexandra on April 20 2020.
Image: ALON SKUY

April 21 2020 - 09:41

Scam alert! Four coronavirus scams to look out for

While the country is working on flattening its coronavirus curve, scammers are using these unprecedented times to try to con you.

These scams include phishing and fake home screening for the virus.

April 21 2020 - 09:40

Covid-19 and handling groceries: what advice should you take?

Social media is awash with advice on how to protect yourself from Covid-19.

A voice note doing the rounds on WhatsApp is encouraging people to disinfect their groceries before packing them away.

“You don’t know who has been handling the products, it could be an infected person,” it warns.

The woman in the audio does not identify herself but says that she runs a non-profit organisation and attends many workshops where “good and important information” has been passed on.

April 21 2020 - 09:33

83 cases of Covid-19 are children aged 10 and younger

Government data shows 83 children aged 10 years and younger have been infected with Covid-19.

Of the 83, 48 are male and 34 are female, with incomplete data on one case. 

Health minister Dr Zweli Mkhize announced on Monday that four more people have died from Covid-19 in SA, taking the death toll to 58.

April 21 2020 - 09:32

Young women hardest hit by Covid-19, statistics show

Women between the ages of 31 and 40 are said to be the hardest hit by Covid-19 in SA.

While it is still early days for SA's fight against the virus as the health department has predicted that the number of cases will increase in the months to come,  statistics from the National Department of Health shared on Monday night show that there were 456 women aged between 31 and 40 who had been confirmed as having tested positive for Covid-19. 

April 21 2020 - 09:30

Funeral parlour workers test positive for Covid-19

Two people who work at the funeral parlour that conducted the doomed March 21 funeral in Majola village, Port St Johns, have tested positive for Covid-19.

Eight more workers, at Mfolozi Funeral Parlour's Port St Johns branch, have already tested for the virus but are yet to receive their results.

April 21 2020 - 09:18

Covid-19: 'Good people still exist,' says farm worker after food donations

Still battling the drought, Eastern Cape farmers are being squeezed further by the Covid-19 lockdown.

Some of the worst-hit are medium-size farmers, who do not qualify for government's R1.2bn Covid-19 relief package, which makes provision only for farmers who earn between R50,000 and R1m a year, reports HeraldLIVE.

Agriculture minister Thoko Didiza said earlier in April that machinery, infrastructure and overhead costs would not be supported and that there would be no payment of debt or financial support. The DA called for the aid package to be reconsidered as the lockdown was having a devastating impact on the finances of medium-scale farmers, who were consequently struggling to adhere to lockdown regulations .

April 21 2020 - 07:00

Stimulus package must be closely monitored to prevent looting: Mashaba

Former City of Joburg mayor Herman Mashaba has urged the government to put in place measures that will ensure that stimulus packages aimed at alleviating the impact of Covid-19 on South Africans are closely scrutinised to prevent corruption.

"It is of grave concern that we have already witnessed the looting of food parcels for the most vulnerable in our society, allegations of a corrupt IT tender in Gauteng Province, and photos of a few food relief items costing more than R1200.

"This is why I am calling on President Ramaphosa to ensure that any measures to generate an economic stimulus package, must be met with strong measures to be taken to ensure transparency and accountability."

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