Covid-19 update: 8,179 new cases reported in SA

South Africa has identified 8,179 new cases of Covid-19 in the past 24 hours, the National Institute for Communicable Diseases (NICD), a division of the National Health Laboratory Service, has announced.

This brings the total number of laboratory-confirmed cases to 3.908,020. This increase represents a 22.6% positivity rate.

The majority of new cases today are from Gauteng (38%) followed by Western Cape (21%). KwaZulu-Natal accounted for 15%; Eastern Cape accounted for 8% and Free State accounted for 7%. Northern Cape accounted for 4%; Mpumalanga and North West each accounted for 3% respectively, and Limpopo accounted for 1% of today’s cases.

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The country has also reported 55 deaths, and of these, 18 occurred in the past 24 – 48 hours. This brings the total fatalities to 100,867 to date.

24.963,628 tests have been conducted in both public and private sectors.

There has been an increase of 145 hospital admissions in the past 24 hours.

China calls for urgent boost to virus-hit economy

The Chinese Premier called for greater “urgency” in rolling out measures to support the country’s virus-battered economy, state media reported Wednesday, days after data highlighted the stark impact of Covid-19 restrictions.

China — the last major global economy sticking to a rigid zero-Covid policy — is contending with an economic slump due to prolonged virus lockdowns that have constricted supply chains, quelled demand and stalled manufacturing.

“All localities and departments should step up their sense of urgency, and new measures that can be used should be used,” Li Keqiang said at a symposium on Wednesday, according to state broadcaster CCTV.

He added that efforts to support the economy should bring it “back to normal quickly” after admitting that economic indicators have “weakened significantly” since March, with a particular dip in April.

On Monday, the country said retail sales and factory output had slumped to the lowest figures since the start of the pandemic while unemployment edged back toward its February 2020 peak.

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Beijing has targeted full-year growth of around 5.5 percent.

Li also called for support for tech companies to list domestically and abroad, a day after Communist Party leaders doubled down on support for the tech sector in a rare meeting with executives.

China’s economic woes appear to have motivated a softer approach toward the vast, money-spinning tech sector, after an 18-month crackdown driven by fears its massive internet companies control too much data and expanded too quickly.

Vice Premier Liu He and other Communist leaders addressed executives, including Robin Li of Baidu — universally used for its search engine and mapping service — and Zhou Hongyi of internet security firm Qihoo 360, state media reported late Tuesday.

Liu offered support for “the sustainable and healthy development of the platform economy and the private economy,” CCTV said.

During the tech crackdown, overseas IPOs from Alibaba’s Ant Group and Didi Chuxing — China’s Uber — were spiked, while millions of dollars of fines over anti-trust and data breaches were ladled out to tech giants. 

Chinese tech shares surged late April after officials pledged support for internet firms at a Politburo meeting.

Tech giants including Alibaba, Tencent and Baidu were marginally lower Wednesday morning, with e-commerce behemoth JD slumping over 4 percent after it recorded a 3 billion yuan ($444 million) loss in first-quarter earnings. 

Additional reporting by AFP