As South Africans brace themselves for the start of the 21-day lockdown at midnight tomorrow, the World Health Organisation (WHO) has warned that the Covid-19 pandemic is ‘accelerating’.

WHO said it took 67 days from the first reported case of Covid-19 to reach 100 000 cases, 11 days for the second 100 000, and just four days for the third 100 000.

By last night, the tally worldwide was reportedly at least 400 000, with total deaths nearing 17 000.

WHO Director General Tedros Ghebreyesus said it was still possible to ‘change the trajectory’, according to a BBC report. Ghebreyesus urged countries to adopt rigorous testing and contact-tracing strategies.

Cases in South Africa rose to 554, up 152 from Monday.

In other virus-related news:

  • South African Airways is suspending all domestic flights;
  • The Olympic Games, due to kicked off in July, have been moved to next year;
  • Italy last night reported 743 deaths, 141 more than Monday;
  • India became the latest country to impose a lockdown, bringing the total population worldwide in lockdown to 2.6 billion people, according to an AFP calculation;
  • In the US, Donald Trump has sparked concern among health experts by seeming ambivalent about measures to the curb the virus when he said: ‘You can destroy a country this way by shutting it down. You’re going to lose more people by putting the country in a massive recession.’
  • BBC political writer Vicki Young wrote that Britons applaud government action against the virus, including the creation of a new temporary 4 000-bed hospital in London, but that this ‘is also a sign of what is to come – and particularly the difficulties in the capital, where this virus is spreading very quickly’.

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