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25
MAY

Rational Radio 25 May: Disrupters vs Disrupted, Tiger Brands and Lockdown's 'burden of proof'

Biznews founder Alec Hogg hosts the weekly Rational Radio podcast hour, which is now recorded as a webcast to allow interactive engagement with Biznews Premium members. SA's favourite market watcher David Shapiro joined him as his regular guest. This week "Kasinomics" author and informal market specialist GG Alcock joined to discuss how some parts of South Africa have moved to Level One of lockdown, ignoring the central directive. Renowned value investor Piet Viljoen discussed the tragedy of the once great business Tiger Brands and updated his (successful) recent call about opportunities offered in SA shares. And Russell Lamberti, founder and strategist at ETM Analytics and a member of the PANDA initiative, quantified how much damage lockdown is doing to the SA economy.
25
MAY

Inside Covid-19: Iconic Dr William Haseltine's advice for SA; Logic from Actuarial Prof Roseanne Harris. Ep 38

In episode 38 of Inside Covid-19, we meet former Harvard Medical Professor William Haseltine, the HIV/Aids pioneer who has forthright suggestions on the steps SA should take to handle the pandemic; talk coronavirus with the super achieving Wits Prof Roseanne Harris who is about to become president of the International Actuarial Association; and revisit the chequered history of lockdowns which, in the West, only became official policy in 2006. (Pic by Nadya Swart)
25
MAY

SA's Elon Musk gets set to make space history; troubled Tiger Brands to chop jobs; Distell; Rand

In today's news headlines:
* South Africa’s most successful global tech entrepreneur Elon Musk - founder of electric car manufacturer Tesla is getting set for another historical step in his business journey. His space exploration firm SpaceX gets set to take US astronauts into orbit this week;
* Food producer Tiger Brands said on Monday it is looking at “significant” job cuts and won’t pay an interim dividend as its business is hit by supply disruptions and margin pressures due to the impact of the coronavirus, says Reuters;
* The best performer at the end of the trading day on the Johannesburg stock exchange was the liquor group Distell, which gained more than 6.5% - undoubtedly on news that a ban on alcohol sales is to be lifted as South Africa eases Covid-19 containment rules; and
* Offshore investors sold a net R1.95bn of South African stocks last week and bought R2.17bn in bonds, data from the Johannesburg Stock Exchange showed on Monday.
25
MAY

No country should count on a Covid-19 vaccine - former Harvard Medical prof William Haseltine

As South Africa moves to level three of the lockdown, President Cyril Ramaphosa told the nation that the early intervention in the Covid-19 epidemic did help to contain it, but until there is a vaccine available, the virus will continue to spread in the population. Biznews spoke to former Harvard Medical Professor William Haseltine, who is known for his pioneering work on HIV/Aids and cancer, about the steps that South Africa could take to deal with the pandemic. His message was that ‘no country should count on a vaccine’; and there are other steps that South Africa could take against the virus. He also said there was more hope in treatments and practices that worked in other parts of the world. Prof Haseltine who has founded a dozen biotechnology companies and is the chair and president of ACCESS Health International also shared an equation he came up with how we can determine our risk of infection during the Covid-19 pandemic. – Linda van Tilburg
25
MAY

CR: Level 3 lockdown from 1 June but hotspots closely monitored; booze allowed, no ciggies; Sasol; Hertz

In today's news headlines:
* President Cyril Ramaphosa sets out how Covid-19 lockdown will be managed in the next weeks, with South Africa’s strict lockdown measures set to ease in June;
* You'll soon be able to buy booze to drink at home, but cigarettes remain banned and restaurants will remain shut, says the president;
* Hertz, the car-rental company founded with a dozen Ford Model Ts over a century ago, has filed for bankruptcy, reports Bloomberg; and
* Petrochemicals giant Sasol, which has been hit by high debt levels and falling oil and chemical prices, has warned that it expects its full-year headline earnings to decrease by at least 20%.
24
MAY

Level 3 Lockdown from 1 June; limited alcohol sales, no ciggies - President Cyril Ramaphosa

President Cyril Ramaphosa said the country will be moved down to level 3 of the phased lifting of the lockdown on the 1st of June. The President said that the government is concerned about the number of Covid-19 cases in Cape Town and the Western Cape and if the spread of the virus is not contained in hotspots, which includes several places in the Western Cape, Tshwane, Johannesburg, Ekhuruleni, Ethekwini, Nelson Mandela Bay and Buffalo City; the areas could be pushed back to earlier levels of the lockdown. Hotspots will be reviewed every two weeks. One third of the 22,538 confirmed cases in South Africa have been recorded in the past week and the death toll from Covid-19 stands at 429 people. 842 patients are in hospital with 128 in ICU. He said South Africa must get used to living with the virus for some time to come as the country would not be able to stop it.
Ramaphosa also announced that:
- Wholesale and retail trade would be fully re-opened;
- Alcohol would be sold at certain times for home-consumption;
- Tobacco products will still not be sold;
- The opening of churches will be discussed in further consultations;
- Restaurant, bars, gyms will remain closed;
- People can now exercise at any time of the day;
- Public servants would be expected to go back to work;
- 20,000 hospital beds are being repurposed for Covid-19 cases;
- 27 field hospitals are being built; and
- The government is supporting and funding research several projects including a plan to locally manufacture coronavirus vaccines as soon as candidates are available. - Linda van Tilburg
24
MAY

Covid-19 vaccine hopes and the bitter reality

There have been some promising early trials of various nascent Covid-19 vaccines, and many are hoping for a usable shot by year-end. In reality, however, we are in the very early days yet and promising early-stage trials are no guarantee of success. What’s more, the rollout of any Covid-19 vaccine promises to be a contentious political process, with the US and China staking out aggressive positions on who will have early access. In this episode, featuring content from the Bloomberg P&L podcast, we explore these issues and why we should be moderating our vaccine hopes. Bottom line: It looks like we need to learn to live with Covid-19, rather than pinning our hopes on a quick-fix vaccine solution.
22
MAY

50 minutes with John Steenhuisen - A moment of truth looms for Cyril Ramaphosa: Growth or pandered destruction.

A moment of clarity from John Steenhuisen who describes Covid-19 as the hill, but the economy the mountain. The leader of the Democratic Alliance reckons the real battle is still to come, and that if the president chooses policies promoting economic growth over pandering to the forces of state intervention and destruction, he can count on the support of the DA and its 85 MPs on the opposition benches.
22
MAY

Wits prof Guy Richards on potential Critical Care shortage; and kids back to school

At the beginning of the Covid-19 pandemic in many countries around the world; the worry has always been that countries' health services will be overwhelmed. In Italy and New York in the United States, there was a stage that the hospitals could not cope with the influx of critically ill patients leading to difficult choices being made of who will be treated and who will die. In Wuhan in China and in London in the UK, the authorities have been able to respond quickly by building large hospitals and providing Intensive Care Units. As Covid-19 cases increase in South Africa, the big question is; will our health services cope? Professor Emeritus at Wits University in Critical Care Guy Richards who is advising at the Charlotte Maxeke Johannesburg Academic Hospital told Biznews that Cape Town is already under pressure and he says private hospitals are going to have to be brought on board if the public hospitals are overrun. He also comments on whether it is safe for children to go back to school and whether there are effective treatments for Covid-19. – Linda van Tilburg
21
MAY

Inside Covid-19: Expert insights into tough road ahead for SA; PMB's life-saving ventilators drowning in red tape. Ep 37

In episode 37 of Inside Covid 19, on a day when South Africa’s confirmed infections rose above 19,000, Discovery’s chief actuary Emile Stipp and Prof Guy Richards, a critical care expert from Wits, assess the country’s tough road ahead; we revisit the Maritzburg ventilator-making company and find out its offer to produce the much needed life-saving equipment is being drowned in a sea of red tape; there are baby steps for a travel sector that was paralysed by coronavirus lockdowns; and an analysis of the role of super-spreading events like music concerts and soccer games. - Alec Hogg
21
MAY

SA Covid-19 cases nearing 20k, Groote Schuur in crisis, actuaries slam virus data; interest rate cut; Tsogo Sun

In today's news headlines:
* Big jump in Covid-19 cases in South Africa, with the Ministry of Health reporting a total number of 19,137 cases and the death toll reaching 369;
* GroundUp news agency reports that the number of Covid-19 patients at Groote Schuur Hospital, Cape Town is doubling every five days, and the hospital will not be able to cope unless something is done;
* A South African group established to look at the human and economic costs of Covid-19 in South Africa has slammed Covid-19 forecasts and asks whether low- and middle-income countries really at significant risk to coronavirus - particularly SA where deaths, they say, will most likely not exceed 10,000 people;
* The South African Reserve Bank cut its benchmark interest rate for the fourth time in four months in a bid to support an economy forecast to slump deeper into recession as a nationwide lockdown to curb the spread of the coronavirus halted most activity, reports Bloomberg; and
* Tsogo Sun Hotels, one of many tourism companies to be hit hard by the impact of the coronavirus, said on Thursday it could face a fall of up to 10% in full-year core earnings. Its share price has plunged by about 65% this year in response to Covid-19 shutdowns.
21
MAY

Small Business Institute CE John Dludlu proposes risk adjusted approach to avoid economic catastrophe

The small business sector is widely seen as a life blood of the economy, and it is no different for South Africa. In an interview with Biznews editor-in-chief Alec Hogg, Chief Executive of the Small Business Institute, John Dludlu, laments the fact that when the country was moved from Stage 5 to Stage 4 in its lockdown small businesses were left behind. As Dludlu proposes a risk adjusted approach to the reopening of the economy, he sees lives and livelihoods intertwined and says as adults who have rights, so too small business owners have responsibilities to ensure their and the safety of their employees. He also discusses the steps the SBI has taken to engage with government in an attempt to develop a voice for its 3.9 million members who need to be heard and allowed to move on in order to avoid a catastrophe in the country. - Nadya Swart

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