Here’s what is happening in and affecting South Africa today:
Coronavirus: Global Covid-19 infections have hit 29 million confirmed, with the death toll reaching 925,000. In South Africa, there have been 956 new cases, taking the total reported to 650,749. Deaths have reached 15,499 (an increase of 52), while recoveries have climbed to 579,289, leaving the country with a balance of 55,961 active cases.
- Tariff hike: Eskom has submitted a supplementary tariff application to energy regulator Nersa, looking to get R5.4 billion through increases, including R1.3 billion in interest – something it is including for the first time. This is over and above the R27 billion application Eskom made for its Regulatory Clearing Account. Eskom won a court case against Nersa after the regulator unlawfully and irrationally truncated Eskom’s application to R13 billion. [Moneyweb]
- Rate cuts: The massive decline in second quarter GDP opens up room for further rate cuts, some economists say – but the market remains fairly divided, with many analysts pencilling in a hold. A Reuters poll found that 15 economists expect the SARB’s main lending rate to remain unchanged at 3.50%, while 10 expect a 25 basis point cut to 3.25%. While some economist say there is room for the SARB to do more to aid the economy through cuts, others argue that the central bank has already done all it could. [Daily Maverick]
- Respite: Public hospitals have started returning to normal operations, with a focus on tackling treatments other than Covid-19 – though they remain on alert and ready to handle a resurgence of the virus. Beds for Covid-19 treatment were at 90% occupancy during the virus peak in South Africa, and have now fallen to as low as 40%. Field hospitals and other facilities set up to handle Covid-19 cases are also being dismantled or repurposed for now. [EWN]
- Not prepared: The Global Preparedness Monitoring Board – which tracks the world’s preparedness to deal with events like a global pandemic – says that the world remains largely unprepared to deal with future pandemics. In a new report, the group noted that little to nothing was done in response to its recommendations during the initial outbreak, and had virtually ignored warnings of an inevitable pandemic over a year ago. It said the Covid-19 outbreak was a harsh test for global preparedness – and it warned that it won’t be the last pandemic we face. [ENCA]
- Markets: The rand firmed on Monday, lifted by improved risk appetite globally as a coronavirus vaccine trial was back on track after a brief pause. The vaccine trials are currently one of the most advanced in development, reigniting hopes of a solution to the pandemic which has decimated global economies. On Tuesday the rand was steady at R16,62 to the dollar, R19.75 to the euro and R21.35 to the pound. Commentary by Reuters. [XE]