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CORONAVIRUS: Your daily update
6 April 2020, 9:05 AM

The death toll from the coronavirus is increasing everyday. New cases are being reported around the world.

Below is a Live Tracking of the cases, death toll and other information, updated daily:



With Wimbledon lost, Federer and Williams running out of Grand Slam opportunities
4 April 2020, 8:42 AM

The cancellation of Wimbledon this week has not only fanned the possibility of a total tennis wipeout for the rest of the season but may also have put an end to the Grand Slam title chase for both Roger Federer and Serena Williams. Wimbledon was scrapped for the first time since World War Two on Wednesday due to the coronavirus pandemic, with the suspension of professional tennis extended to July 13.

The entire claycourt and grasscourt seasons have been cancelled, with the four-month shutdown wreaking havoc on the finances of the lower-tier players.

Tennis Australia head Craig Tiley has said it would be tough for the sport to return before 2021 while All England Lawn Tennis Club CEO Richard Lewis agreed that it was not unrealistic to believe tennis might be done for the year.

While 38-year-old Federer is well insulated from the shutdown’s financial fallout it could well impact his hopes of adding to his record haul of 20 Grand Slam titles.

The last of Federer’s Slams came at the 2018 Australian Open and the closest he came to adding to his tally was last year’s Wimbledon final.

Federer’s last match was in the Australian Open semi-finals before he underwent keyhole surgery on his knee in February. His next chance at a Grand Slam would be the U.S. Open, scheduled in New York from Aug. 31 to Sept. 14.

The French Open, an event he has skipped in the past, has been rearranged from May to September — a week after Flushing Meadows.

Australian Todd Woodbridge, a nine-times Wimbledon doubles champion and singles semi-finalist, was unsure what was in store for Federer if the season is lost.

“The question that Roger will have to ask himself is how motivated is he to come back for another year?” Woodbridge told Australian Associated Press this week.

“Or has this actually helped him? But the less match play that you get in this period at that age, it’s so much harder to come back and recover once you start again.

“It has stopped the potential … of Federer winning one or two more. It becomes very highly unlikely for him.”

While Federer has said he will still be around for Wimbledon next year Williams has been tight-lipped on her future.

The American, who turns 39 in September, lost in last year’s Wimbledon final and remains one Grand Slam short of tying Margaret Court’s record 24 major titles.

She has reached four Grand Slam finals since giving birth to daughter Olympia in 2017 but failed to win any of them.

Martina Navratilova, winner of 18 Grand Slam singles titles, says the situation is not ideal for anyone but for players like Williams and Federer the clock is ticking.

“The youngsters are missing a chance to improve and match up against higher-ranked players,” she said. “The middle players are kind of stuck, and the older players like Serena Williams and Roger Federer, time is not their friend.

“So they lost basically this year this opportunity.”

COVID-19 claims more lives in the US than 9-11 attacks
31 March 2020, 4:37 PM

The number of Coronavirus deaths in the United States has surpassed the number of people lost during the attack on 9-11 almost 19 years ago and could within the next 24 hours surpasses China’s toll.

Almost three thousand people died in the terrorist attacks on the United States but COVID-19 has proven more deadly as the U.S toll, at almost 3200, edges closer to China’s 3300 dead. This as President Donald Trump again praised his administration’s response to the outbreak announcing that more than one million test had now been conducted in the country, more than anywhere else in the world by number.

Trump speaking at the White House said, “Today, we reached a historic milestone in our war against the coronavirus. Over one million Americans have now been tested, more than any other country by far. Not even close.”

The United States still lags behind others in per capita testing. South Korea’s at 410 000 tests in a population of 51 million gives it a per capita rate of 8000 tests per million. Italy, that has suffered the highest number of deaths globally at over 11 000, has done almost 500 000 tests; population 60 million. That’s 7800 tests per million. The United States at one million tests in a population of 327 million leaves it with 3000 tests per one million people.

And when a journalist put that to the President, he called her question snarky.

“It’s very much on par per capita, we have areas that are very much… I know South Korea better than anybody, it’s a very tight – do you know how many people are in Seoul? Do you know how big the city of Seoul is? 38 million people. That’s bigger than anything we have. 38 million people all tightly wound together. We have vast farmlands, we have vast areas where they don’t have much of a problem, in some cases they have no problem whatsoever. We have done more tests, I didn’t talk about per capita. We have done more tests by far than any country in the world, by far.”

Seoul’s population is actually 9.7 million.

The President also unveiled a new testing kit given emergency clearance by the Food and Drug Administration that could deliver a result in five minutes.

Meanwhile, the city hardest hit by the outbreak took delivery of a 1000-bed Navy hospital ship that will assist with the overflow of non-coronavirus patients as hospitals here and elsewhere struggle to cope with COVID-19 volumes.

New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio, “As the USNS Comfort entered New York Harbour, coming here to save the lives of New Yorkers in our hour of need. We’ve all been through a lot these last few weeks, and we needed this boost. We needed this hope that’s being created by our brothers and sisters in the US Navy and the Marine Corps, everyone who is here to help us at this crucial moment. This ship arriving is not just an example of help arriving in a physical form. It’s not just about the beds and the doctors and the equipment. It’s also about hope.”

Monday’s death toll in the United States exceeded 500 with the New York Governor warning that figure could ultimately reach 800 per day. This comes as the President’s Coronavirus Task Force plans to present the American public with projection models that have informed decision-making within the White House situation room.

This could add substance to predictions that between 100 and 200-thousand people could die due to the current outbreak in the United States while Federal social distancing guidelines could also be tweaked.

Below is a Live Tracking of the cases, death toll and other information, updated daily:



Rand breaches R18 to the dollar mark
30 March 2020, 11:48 AM

The rand has passed R18 to the dollar mark. This is a record low for the currency and it came after markets opened Monday morning.

It follows Moody’s downgrade of South Africa’s credit rating to junk status on Friday night. This means, amongst others, that South Africa’s borrowing cost will increase, as is already reflected by a rise of the R186 bond yield to 10.65 percent.

Moody’s was the last of the credit rating agencies that still had an investment grading of South Africa’s debt. This means that South Africa will eventually have to exit from global bond indices, causing a greater outflow of foreign capital and a further weakening the rand.

Last week economists warned that the rand will remain extremely weak in the coming days as the coronavirus continues to ravage global markets.

The currency was trading at lows of R17, 74 last week Monday.

It breached R17  the week before.

Standard Bank Chief Economist Goolam Ballim predicted the rand could reach the R18 mark.

“Emerging markets are in acute risk aversion, financial market participants are almost indiscriminately selling assets and turning to cash as a safe haven. Given that South Africa is an emerging market and one that has a substantial commodity component to its GDP and an emerging market that was already weak prior to the COVID-19 means that South Africa would be in the crossheads of this sell-off and this will result in the rand remaining vulnerable and weak.”

Wimbledon will be cancelled, says German tennis official – report
30 March 2020, 9:13 AM

All England Lawn Tennis Club (AELTC) officials earlier said the June 29-July 12 event would not be played behind closed doors and postponement was not without significant risk and difficulty.

“Wimbledon has stated that they will have a board meeting next Wednesday and will make the final decision there,” Hordorff told Sky Sports Germany.

“I am also involved in the bodies of the ATP and WTA. The necessary decisions have already been made there and Wimbledon will decide to cancel next Wednesday. There is no doubt about it. This is necessary in the current situation.

“It is completely unrealistic to imagine that with the travel restrictions that we currently have an international tennis tournament where hundreds of thousands of people from all over the world would travel. That is unthinkable.”

The AELTC did not respond to a request for comment.

The postponement of the Tokyo Olympics opened up a two-week window in the tennis calendar in July/August but it is less likely that it will be feasible for Wimbledon, which has only two covered courts and cannot be held past late summer.

French Open organisers stunned the tennis world by unilaterally postponing the claycourt Grand Slam at Roland Garros from May until late September because of the pandemic.

The French Tennis Federation (FFT) came under heavy fire from tennis players around the world at the lack of communication as the new dates clashed with several other events already featuring on the calendar.

The men’s ATP Tour and the WTA, which runs women’s tournaments, require their players to participate at the four Grand Slams, but the new French Open dates are yet to feature on the calendars of either association.

“The unilateral behaviour of the organizers has been criticized by everyone and I can simply predict that the French Open will not be relocated as it was intended,” Hordorff said.

He said either the FFT would go ahead with the new dates and feel the wrath of the entire tennis world or they have the option to start working with others to draw up a plan that makes sense for everyone.

“They will be deprived of the points and they will degenerate into a chaos event,” he said.

“Even those there have understood that and they are slowly crawling back. Solidarity is the order of the day, it is a matter of being together and not going it alone, as the president of the French Tennis Association did.”



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