Here’s what is happening in and affecting South Africa today:
Coronavirus: Global infections have hit 12.7 million cases, with the death toll reaching 565,000. In South Africa, there are now 276,242 confirmed coronavirus cases, with deaths climbing to 4,079. Recoveries have hit 134,874, leaving the country with a balance of 137,289 active cases.
- Lockdown restrictions: President Cyril Ramaphosa has announced a host of new lockdown restrictions, in a bid to take pressure off healthcare facilities as the country moves towards the expected ‘peak’ of the outbreak. While the country remains at level 3 for all else, alcohol sales have been banned, and people remain blocked from visiting friends and family socially. However, taxis are now allowed to operate at 100% as long as they open some windows. [BusinessTech]
- Breathing room: The Gauteng health department has denied claims that the province has run out of oxygen to treat serious Covid-19 cases. It was reported by UK publication The Telegraph. The department said that there is increased demand on supply, but it has systems in place to issue alerts when capacity reaches 50%. Gauteng is now the Covid-19 epicentre in South Africa, with cases fast approaching the 100,000 mark, currently at 98,431. [TimesLive]
- Price shock: The City of Johannesburg has once again reversed its decision to charge a R200 monthly fee for prepaid electricity users – the second year in a row that it has done so. It has also changed its mind on the R402 charge for business customers. Had the charges been kept in, the effective increase in tariffs for prepaid users would have been around 50%. Prepaid customers currently enjoy some of the cheapest electricity in the country, largely subsidised bu post-paid customers. [Moneyweb]
- Power troubles: Stage 2 load shedding will be implemented again on Monday, starting at 09h00, and expected to continue until 22h00. The power utility said it is working as hard as it can to restore generating units, but is not making sufficient progress to avoid load shedding during the week. It says it is also experiencing a significant increase in demand due to the colder weather currently being experienced across the country. [Eskom]
- Markets: The rand extended its gains in the early hours of Monday morning, as optimism lurks ahead of a week filled with data and corporate earnings. The rand recovered in afternoon trade on Friday, after sliding earlier due to concerns about rising Covid-19 cases both at home and abroad. On Monday, the rand was at R16.74 to the dollar, R21.19 to the pound and R18.96 to the euro. Commentary by Peregrine Treasury Solutions. [XE]