Here’s what is happening in and affecting South Africa today:
Coronavirus: Global Covid-19 infections have hit 11.6 million confirmed cases since the start of the year, with the death toll up to 538,000. In South Africa, infections continue to rise rapidly, with the country now at 215,855 confirmed cases, with 3,502 deaths. There are now over 100,000 recoveries at 102,299, leaving a balance of 110,054 active cases.
- No credibility: Ratings agency Fitch is the latest to weigh in on South Africa’s emergency budget, saying that government’s plans to rein in spending will be difficult to implement due to low economic growth – adding that it has a poor track record for following through with such promises anyway. The group said that the government has previously committed to smaller cuts and balances, and abandoned those; so there’s really no credibility to these commitments now. [Reuters]
- Power alert: Eskom has warned that the country’s power system is severely constrained after losing two generation units – one each at Medupi and Tutuka – totalling 1,300MW. This could persists through to the weekend, where cold temperatures are expected to batter the country. The power utility has urged the country to reduce power demand during this time, especially during peak periods. Load shedding hasn’t been implemented since before the nationwide lockdown, but targeted ‘load reduction’ strategies have been an almost daily occurrence since level 3. [Eskom]
- Job cuts: South African Airways will cut 2,700 jobs, the group announced, with all unions except the pilots union now accepting the group’s voluntary severance packages. As part of the group’s negotiations with unions, around 1,000 jobs will be retained in the ‘new’ airline that is expected to emerge from the restructuring process. The business rescue plan for SAA has still not been accepted, but a vote will be taking place soon (14 July) on the path forward. [TimesLive]
- Airborne: The World Health Organisation says it has acknowledged and is studying new claims that the Covid-19 coronavirus could be airborne, spreading to people beyond the 2 metres that is currently understood to be a ‘safe’ distance. A group of over 200 international scientists claim that the virus can remain suspended in the air for “several hours” and spread “tens of metres”. If proven true, this would effectively change all guidelines around how to deal with the virus. The WHO is expected to publish a scientific brief consolidating all available information on this, in the coming days. [EWN]
- Markets: South Africa’s rand weakened on Tuesday as worries over surges in coronavirus infections reactivated investor concerns about the economic impact of the pandemic. Locally, Covid-19 deaths passed the 3,000 mark, with infections at more than 200,000. Despite the recent easing of local lockdown measures, the current levels of activity in markets have yet to suggest any recovery. On Wednesday, the rand was at R17.16 to the dollar, R21.55 to the pound and R19.35 to the euro. Commentary by Reuters. [XE]