South Africa enters coronavirus lockdown / US launches Space Force satellite / US jobless figures published as Covid-19 takes hold

By Robert Scammell


Good morning, here’s your Thursday morning briefing. Look out for these three things happening around the world today.

South Africa enters coronavirus lockdown

South Africa begins a nationwide lockdown today as it moves to contain the coronavirus.

There are at least 2,400 cases of Covid-19 across Africa, with more than 700 in South Africa. However, the World Health Organization said the statistics are likely a significant underestimation.

The strict lockdown will last 21 days and confine tens of millions of citizens to their homes, excluding essential workers.

It follows lockdowns in many other countries. New restrictions on public spaces come into force in Australia today. Late on Tuesday India moved to lock down the entire country of 1.37 billion people.

US launches Space Force satellite

The US Space Force, the sixth and newest addition to the US Armed Forces, launches a communications satellite today.

The satellite is intended to provide “global, survivable, protected communications capabilities for strategic command and tactical warfighters operating on ground, sea and air platforms”.

It is the sixth and final spacecraft in the Lockheed Martin-built Advanced Extremely High Frequency (AEHF) series.

It will launch on an Atlas V 551 rocket, with launch scheduled for 02:57 pm local time from Cape Canaveral, Florida – pending weather conditions.

US jobless figures published as Covid-19 takes hold

Figures published by the US Department of Labor today are expected to show a surge in the number of people claiming unemployment insurance as the coronavirus continues to wreak economic damage.

Last week’s figures showed the number of claimants jumped by over 70,000 to 281,000. An estimate by Goldman Sachs for the week ending 21 March put the latest figure at 2.25 million claims, while Morgan Stanley puts it as high as 3.4 million.

Many states have reported increased layoffs in service industries, such as hospitality and food services, because of the Covid-19 outbreak.

On 20 March President Trump announced a bailout package worth $2tr that will go to businesses, corporations and directly into the pockets of Americans in a bid to cushion the economic downturn caused by the pandemic.

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