Here’s what is happening in and affecting South Africa today:
Coronavirus: Global Covid-19 infections have increased to 11.4 million cases confirmed since the start of the year, while the death toll has risen to 534,000. In South Africa, cases have passed the 200,000 mark, with 205,721 confirmed cases in the country, with 3,310 deaths. Recoveries have increased to 97,848, leaving a balance of 104,563 active cases in the country.
- Front line warning: Doctors have issued a bleak warning about the reality of the Covid-19 pandemic in South Africa: we do not have enough beds. Medical professionals report significant strain on staff at hospitals, and that they are already having to make difficult admission decisions. Doctors say that it doesn’t matter if you pay for the most expensive medical aid available and demand admission to hospital, you are not guaranteed a bed in hospital during this crisis. This is just the beginning – and it’s not going to get better any time soon. [Times Select]
- Up in smoke: The ban on the sale of tobacco products in South Africa has already cost government R3.5 billion in taxes – but the worst of it may be yet to come, with indications that the illicit trade sector has now established supply and distribution networks (seen through a large drop in prices for illegal cigarettes), which will make it a lot easier for ‘criminal’ smokers to now purchase their smokes, while also bypassing the significant ‘sin taxes’ placed on the products by government – robbing the country of future tax revenue, too. [Moneyweb]
- Taxi as usual: Taxi operators have already started breaking Covid-19 regulations, packing their vehicles to 100% capacity and travelling between provinces – now taxi group Santaco has made submissions to the National Coronavirus Command Council to formalise these aspects. The group said taxis are ready to resume full, inter-provincial operations, and have taken the necessary precautions to prevent the spread of Covid-19. [Business Day]
- VBS accused: The alleged mastermind behind the R2 billion looting of VBS bank says that he is the victim of a political campaign run by anti-black industry players, and that the forensic report that uncovered the corruption and named him and several other executives as those behind the theft, was “the worst forensic report of all time”. The biggest denial, however, is that there was no theft at VBS bank at all – with him claiming that the money is “safe somewhere”, or never existed in the first place. [amaBhungane]
- Markets: South Africa’s rand firmed on Monday, thanks to a broad recovery in risk appetite on growing expectations of a strong Chinese economic rebound. The Johannesburg Stock Exchange closed higher than in the last nine trading sessions due to the China-led optimism. On Tuesday the rand was at R17.00 to the dollar, R21.26 to the pound and R19.23 to the euro. Commentary by Reuters. [XE]