LOCKDOWN LEVEL 1 Ver3 [DAY 7] Wave 2
TOTAL DAYS 21 – 08 HOURS 00 MINUTES
By the close of trade on Wednesday, the South African rand strengthened against the US dollar. In South Africa Dr. Zweli Mkhize has stated that the country is now in a second wave with spikes worse than the onset of the Corona Virus. Super spreader events amongst the youth have been a major contributor to the rise stated Mkhize. Please refer to the tail piece of this report for Covid-19 information.
- Investors focused on the progress on new US fiscal stimulus and positive news about COVID-19 vaccines. Relief talks on an economic aid package in Congress kicked off with a flurry of activity last week after months of gridlock. A bipartisan $908 billion proposal drew Democratic support from Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer a big decrease from their past demands for at least $2.2 trillion in spending. Yet many Republicans have not budged from their calls for a slimmer aid package that prioritizes assistance to small businesses, schools and for vaccine distribution. Now, it is unclear where a compromise takes shape with only nine days left until the end of the congressional session.
- China to impose anti-subsidy deposits on Australian Wine.
- In South Africa, on the data front, consumer price inflation slowed on an annual basis in November.
- In the US, JOLTS job openings rose in October, but layoffs rose at a faster pace.
- Wholesale inventories increased more than initially estimated in October, suggesting inventory investment could contribute to economic growth in 4Q20.
- The yield on benchmark government bonds rose yesterday. The yield on 2026 bond rose to 6.92%. Further, the yield on 2023 bond advanced to 4.60%, while that for the longer-dated 2030 issue climbed to 8.91%.
In early trade on Thursday, the US dollar is trading lower against the South African rand at R14.9422, while the euro is trading lower at R18.0726. The British pound has declined against the South African rand to trade at R19.9625.
By the close of trade on Wednesday, the euro declined against most of the major currencies.
- The European Central Bank is set to expand its massive stimulus program further on Thursday as the continent deals with a second wave of the coronavirus pandemic and the associated lockdowns. Back in October, the euro zone’s central bank vowed to “recalibrate its instruments” at its December meeting to respond to the “unfolding situation.” Shortly afterwards, new virus lockdowns across the region dented the economic outlook significantly, at least in the short term, as daily infection rates surged.
- On the data front, German trade surplus widened in October.
- In Brexit news, the British pound lost about 0.5% on Thursday after British Prime Minister Boris Johnson and European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen agreed they have until Sunday to take a “firm decision” about the future of trade talks. The European Commission and Britain remained “far apart” on Brexit trade deal, the bloc’s chief executive said after what she described as a “lively” dinner with the British Prime Minister. “It looks like there won’t be any agreement to present to the EU summit starting today.
In early trade on Thursday, the euro advanced 0.1% against the US dollar to trade at $1.2165, while it has gained against the British pound to trade at GBP0.9022.
DR ZWELI MKHIZE’S IMPORTANT COVID-19 ANNOUNCEMENTS THIS EVENING:
This evening we wish to announce that as South Africa we are now experiencing a second wave. A criteria was formulated by our scientists and modeling teams.
As it stands as a country we now meet that criteria. It is also important to highlight that four provinces, that being, Western Cape, Eastern Cape, KwaZulu Natal and Gauteng Province are the key drivers of this new wave.
To break it down: The majority of new cases today are from WC (30%) followed by EC (24%) then KZN which accounted for 23%; and GP accounted for 17%. The Free State, Limpopo, Mpumalanga and North West each accounted for 1% of new cases respectively while Northern Cape accounted for less than 1%. It is important as well to highlight that today we have breached 6000 in terms of new cases and the total new cases today identified is 6 709 thus giving us a total of 828 598 cumulative cases today. There are some seriously concerning issues I need to bring to the attention of the public:
- The positivity rate today is 18%- well above the ideal 10% that the MAC on COVID-19 recommends
- You will notice from the seven day moving average graph that the increases in rapid increase in KZN and Gauteng are exponential. This means that we should expect faster rising numbers with a higher peak than in the first wave.
- In the last two days the age distribution of new cases showed a different pattern from the norm: the peak age in this period is in the 15-19 age group. This is believed to be due to large number of parties involving young people drinking alcohol with no adherence to non-pharmaceutical interventions, i.e. wearing of masks, social distancing and hand and surface sanitizing. This inevitably leads to super spreader events which spill over into the rest of the country as this age group is highly mobile and the majority of the carriers are asymptomatic.
If this trajectory continues our health care system will be overwhelmed by the numbers. Hence part of the recommendations that are being tabled by provinces themselves is that large gatherings and parties must be urgently curtailed. We would like to indicate that, having observed the trends in the past couple of weeks, we had already sent a letter to all MEC’s urging them to prepare their respective provinces for a second wave.
The key issues that we have raised are that the provinces need to ensure that testing turnaround times are as quick as possible to facilitate patient flow, assess bed capacity including recalling field hospital beds, attend to staffing and equipment needs urgently and to tighten up monitoring and evaluation and reporting to national department.
Regrettably, 135 COVID-19 related deaths have been reported today: Eastern Cape 56, Free State 15, Gauteng 16, Kwa-Zulu Natal 7 and Western Cape 48. This brings the total to 22 574 deaths. Recoveries now stand at 754 658.