471,123 confirmed coronavirus cases in South Africa as deaths climb to 7,497

Health minister Dr Zweli Mkhize has announced that there are now a total of 471,123 cases of coronavirus in South Africa.

This is an increase of 11,362 cases from the 459,761 infections reported on Tuesday.

The data shows that there are 240 new Covid-19 related deaths, taking the total to 7,497 casualties, following 190 deaths reported on Tuesday.

Dr Mkhize pointed to 297,967 recoveries to date.

A total of 2.87 million tests have been conducted, with 42,528 tests conducted over the past 24 hours, the minister said.

The coronavirus pandemic has infected approximately 17 million people and killed more than 665,000 worldwide since late January, when it was first reported.

Data shows more than 10.5 million recoveries.

The coronavirus crisis in Cape Town, South Africa’s main tourist hub, appears to be easing and the authorities don’t know why, Bloomberg reported.

A slowdown in new infections and deaths in most other global virus hotspots has coincided with the imposition of lockdowns.

But in Cape Town and much of the surrounding Western Cape province, new cases and fatalities plateaued in late June and have recently shown a small decline, even though most businesses have reopened.

The trajectory of the disease “has got many people puzzled,” said Keith Cloete, a doctor who heads the Western Cape’s Department of Health, in a briefing Wednesday.

One theory is that pleas to adhere to social distancing and wear masks are increasingly being heeded, he said.

Petrol prices

The Automobile Association (AA) has predicted significant increases in the price of petrol and diesel in August.

The AA was commenting on unaudited month-end fuel price data released by the Central Energy Fund.

“Global oil prices strode higher during July, setting the stage for fuel price increases in August despite a surprise upside from the rand,” the AA said.

The Association said that as matters currently stand, petrol is likely to increase by between nine and 16 cents a litre, diesel by up to 48 cents, and illuminating paraffin by 43 cents.

“Oil traded in a fairly tight range throughout July, but it was a substantial climb at the beginning of the month, plus some recent volatility, that combined to push prices higher,” the AA said.

It added that diesel and illuminating paraffin have been more affected by these swings than petrol.

The Association said that the steady strengthening of the rand during July appears to confirm the view of some economists that the currency is undervalued.

Fuel price changes

Current data analysed by the AA shows the price of fuel could change as follows:

  • Petrol – 9c – 16c per litre increase
  • Diesel – 48c per litre increase
  • Illuminating Paraffin – 43c per litre increase

“The rand gained eight cents against the US dollar during July and the average exchange rate has firmed to below R16.90,” the AA said.

“With so much negative news surrounding the economy, the rand’s firmer trend is welcome, but we would like to see the government support this trend in the area of economic policy certainty.”

The Association added that without the rand’s good performance this month, the increases would have been higher, and they are solely attributable to increasing oil strength.

“With the level of global economic turmoil that currently prevails, predicting a ‘normal’ band for oil is near-impossible; we advise motorists to be pragmatic about the possibility of further increases, and to plan their budgets accordingly,” the AA said.

Read: South Africa’s first Covid-19 epicentre is showing signs of plateauing

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