482,169 confirmed coronavirus cases in South Africa as deaths climb to 7,812

Health minister Dr Zweli Mkhize has announced that there are now a total of 482,169 cases of coronavirus in South Africa.

This is an increase of 11,046 cases from the 471,123 infections reported on Wednesday.

The data shows that there are 315 new Covid-19 related deaths, taking the total to 7,812 casualties, following 240 deaths reported on Wednesday.

Dr Mkhize pointed to 309,601 recoveries to date.

A total of 2.9 million tests have been conducted, with 44,886 tests conducted over the past 24 hours, the minister said.

The coronavirus pandemic has infected approximately 17.2 million people and killed more than 671,000 worldwide since late January, when it was first reported.

Data shows more than 10.75 million recoveries.

Almost 10,000 people in the UK have been given an experimental vaccine from AstraZeneca and the University of Oxford, a key step toward finding a shot that will help control the pandemic.

AstraZeneca is also well on its way to administering shots to 5,000 volunteers in a late-stage trial in Brazil and may scale up the size of its studies there, chief executive 0fficer Pascal Soriot said Thursday in an interview with Bloomberg TV.

Subjects are being enrolled in South Africa, and a test in the US is about to begin.

New leisure rules

Cabinet has agreed to ease restrictions around leisure travel, paving the way for citizens to travel within their provinces of residence.

“After the release of the new regulations, individuals will be permitted to leave their homes for leisure purposes within the province where they currently live.

“It’s only for intra-provincial travel, not inter-provincial. If you’re in Gauteng, you’re allowed to travel within Gauteng. You can’t go to KwaZulu-Natal,” tourism minister Mmamoloko Kubayi-Ngubane said on Thursday.

Accommodation establishments are now permitted to operate for leisure intra-provincially.

However, no more than two people may share a room, except for a nuclear family, parents and their children.

“Establishments are already legally obliged to require and keep a copy of proof of identity,” the Minister said, adding that short-term home rental or sharing remains closed.

Speaking at a briefing on the new regulations affecting the travel and leisure sector, Kubayi-Ngubane said tour operators will be allowed to conduct guided tours in open safari vehicles, subject to directions, including the provision for both social distancing and maximum ventilation.

Restaurants to close at 10pm

Diners will now be able to enjoy meals at restaurants until 10pm. The curfew was previously 9pm. However, alcohol is still off the menu.

The minister believes that extending operating hours will go a long way in helping to increase the eateries’ revenue.

“The impact of the pandemic has been devastating for the sector. Many businesses are at risk and many jobs have already been lost. However, we are doing everything we can to ensure that the impact is minimised,” she said.

Kubayi-Ngubane said the changes will come into effect as soon as the new regulations are gazetted.

Relief measures

In supporting the tourism sector in this crisis period, the Department of Toursim redirected R200 million through the Tourism Relief Fund (TRF).

Of the 7,284 valid applications submitted, the department could only assist 4,000 businesses in the tourism and hospitality sector.

“Allocation of funds was conducted in line with government policies and ensured that there was an equitable share of resources across all regions of the country, including rural areas and small towns or dorpies,” Kubayi-Ngubane said.

However, 3,284 applications were not funded due to depletion of resources, even though some qualified.

“Reasons for non-approval ranged from enterprises with an annual turnover of R5 million and above, non-tourism enterprises, enterprises not covered under the TRF guidelines like franchise restaurants, applications with the outstanding mandatory document such as a valid tax certificate, and those without supporting documents.”

The minister said letters detailing the reasons for unfavourable considerations are being prepared and will be issued to all unfunded applicants soon.

Meanwhile, Kubayi-Ngubane said the department was encouraged by the letters of appreciation from patriotic South Africans, black and white, who did not listen to the “misleading noise that the relief was specifically for black people”.

“This ultimately confused and discouraged even those who qualified for the grant not to apply.”

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