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CAPE TOWN - South Africa records two more deaths, Health Minister awaits average daily transmission rate to have better sense of where country is at, IMF and World Bank call for more assistance for Africa and Europe's worst-hit countries see drop-off in death rates.

OUR FOURTH WEEKEND IN LOCKDOWN

BY THE NUMBERS

• Total infections now stand at 3,158.

• Total number of deaths now stands at 54 – with 2 more recorded over the past 24 hours (one in the Western Cape and one in KZN).

• Total number of people tested 114,711 – that number is rising rapidly, as the NHLS doubles down, and mass screening and testing campaigns gain momentum.

• Globally, more than 2.3 million cases have been confirmed since the virus emerged in Wuhan, and more than 162,000 have died as a result.

CRUCIAL DAY... OR NOT...

• On Monday, Salim Abdool Karim gave a comprehensive technical briefing about the numbers and the models that are tracking the disease and informing the public health response and the decision to lockdown.

• He said this past week would be crucial and spoke about Saturday the 18th as being the day where we would have a far better sense of where we stand.

• He told the nation the average daily transmission rate is the key number to watch. At the time, he said they are looking for a number in the range between 44 and 89 per day.

• The Health Minister on Sunday said that average daily transmission rate currently stood at roughly 90-95. However, he made the point that that is not far off statistically, and was the subject of discussion at an inter-ministerial advisory committee meeting on Sunday night.

• He explained that a 50-100 range is statistically acceptable too.

• They will now be looking very closely at the percentage change in infection rates as well as the average daily transmission rate.

• The Health Minister refused to speculate on the status of the lockdown – whether it might be extended, but referenced the importance of balancing the risks to the economy, the risks to hunger and food security, and still be able to contain and slow the virus.

• Says in the next few days they are hoping to have enough information to have a better view of the situation and possibly a better sense of what will happen with the lockdown.

THE ECONOMY

• The IMF and the World Bank have called for urgent assistance for Africa to help deal with the pandemic.

• The continent needs at least $114 billion to cover urgent fiscal needs.

• But even after pledges of support from bilateral, multilateral and private creditors, there’s still a gap of about $44 billion.

• This all emerged during the weekend spring meetings of the World Bank and the IMF – which were all held online.

GLOBALLY

• Death rates in the worst-hit EU nations of Italy and Spain appear to be dropping off, with Italy recording its lowest daily death toll in a week and Spain recording its lowest daily death toll in a month.

• The Netherlands has also reported lowest daily increase in deaths since 26 March.

• Health ministers from the G20 held virtual meetings on Sunday night to work on a joint response to the pandemic – they're expected to issue a statement on that.

• Australia has become the latest nation to demand an international investigation into the origins of COVID-19 and how it spread - it’s also questioned China’s transparency.

• Pope Francis has called for an all-embracing vision of the world after the COVID-19 crisis, warning that moving on without global solidarity or excluding sectors of society from the recovery would result in "an even worse virus".

This article first appeared on EWN : COVID-19 quick insights from 20 April

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