Just over a quarter of South African adults are believed to have been infected with Covid-19, says Discovery Health CEO Ryan Noach, in a hard-hitting interview with BizNews founder Alec Hogg. In Cape Town’s Khayelitsha, about 50% are believed to have contracted the disease. Noach advocates the safe opening of the economy so that there is no second wave. Hogg underscores the ‘dire’ economic consequences of strict lockdown and that it cost R46m for every life saved. The Covid-19 Alert SA tracing app, developed for free by Discovery for the Department of Health, is also in the spotlight. ‘Privacy has to be first and foremost, in everything we do,’ says Noach, explaining how the technology works. He warns that a resurgence in Europe is a warning sign that South Africa could see a second wave of Covid-19. And, we also speak to Dr Lawrence Roope, a health economics expert at Oxford University, to discuss who will get the Covid-19 vaccine first – and how to plan its roll-out. – Jackie Cameron
The Covid-19 headlines
- South Africa is number 8 on the list of countries that have been hardest hit by Covid-19. The Johns Hopkins Coronavirus Resource Centre lists the US at number 1, with just under 6.4m cases and more than 190,000 deaths. India, Brazil, Russia, Peru, Columbia and Mexico are next on the list. As of this week, just under 15,200 deaths as a result of Covid-19 have been reported by the South African government. More than 900,000 people worldwide have died of the coronavirus.
- Bloomberg has reported that China’s vaccine frontrunner has said that none of the recipients of its two shots has reported an obvious adverse reaction or infection, as it presses ahead with testing after AstraZeneca suspended its trial. BioNTech SE and Pfizer Inc. reached a provisional agreement to supply at least 200-million doses of any successful vaccine to the European Union.
- The BBC reports: Israel’s cabinet is to consider whether to impose a nationwide lockdown, as the country struggles to halt a steep rise in coronavirus infections. The health ministry reported 3,904 new cases on Wednesday, a new daily record that brought the total to 142,582. The death toll also rose by 11 to 1,054. A week of overnight curfews and school closures began on Tuesday in 40 “red” areas with the highest infection rates. But health officials are reportedly now recommending a month-long lockdown.
- Insurance market Lloyd’s of London has said it expects to pay out up to £5bn for coronavirus-related claims. Its chief executive John Neal said the first half of the year had been “exceptionally challenging”. Mr Neal conceded on the BBC’s Today programme that £5bn was not that big a payout considering the scale of the pandemic.
- As Indonesia’s coronavirus caseload surges past 200,000, some officials are finding creative ways to drive home the message that wearing a mask is necessary to prevent new infections. In East Jakarta, the authorities punished several people with time in a coffin. “The coffin is a symbol to remind people not to underestimate the coronavirus,” said Budhy Novian, head of East Jakarta’s public order agency. “It’s our effort to convey the message to the people: the Covid-19 number is high and it causes death.” But officials halted the practice after critics pointed out that onlookers were violating social distancing rules by crowding around to gawk and take photos.