Durban – President Cyril Ramaphosa and US President, Donald Trump conducted a rare telephone conversation with each other when the two leaders spoke on Thursday about the impact the coronavirus pandemic was having on their respective countries.
While details of the discussion were not fleshed out, President Ramaphosa tweeted that he had a “very productive call” with Trump on the impact Covid-19 was having on the two countries.
However a spokesman from the US embassy is reported to have said that the US has pledged $250m to help South Africa fight the coronavirus taking the total commitment made by the US to South Africa to fight the virus to over R400m.
It came as South Africa’s death rate from the coronavirus jumped by 10 new deaths on Thursday rising to a total of 75.
Health Minister Zweli Mkhize announced that there were 318 confirmed cases on Thursday, the single biggest increase of coronavirus cases since the government began tracking the virus.
In contrast, the US which, like South Africa has implemented nationwide lockdowns – through a stay at home order – has become the epicentre of the coronavirus pandemic.
On Thursday, the US had more than 860 000 confirmed Covid-19 cases with more than 48 200 deaths.
President Trump has come under intense scrutiny over his handling of the coronavirus pandemic in his home country after downplaying the virus for weeks – referring to it as the common flu – and then botching up the sending out of test kits and protective medical gear to states.
In addition, Trump cut more than $400 million funding to the World Health Organisation during the pandemic after claiming the organisation was “China-centric” and did not do a good job in its handling of the pandemic. His critics have accused him of doing this as a way of deflecting from his own failures in dealing with the pandemic.
He has also been slammed for wanting to end the lockdown in various states and open up the economy – which saw more than 4 million people apply for unemployment benefits this week alone – against the advice of the White House medical experts.
In contrast, the UN this week praised South Africa’s efforts in fighting off the pandemic saying that in many ways the country “was showing the way” to other countries.
Ramaphosa is expected to address the nation at 8.30pm on Thursday night.