Here’s what is happening in and affecting South Africa today:
Coronavirus: Global Covid-19 infections have hit 46.6 million confirmed, with the death toll reaching 1,201,000. In South Africa, there have been 772 new cases, taking the total reported to 727,595. Deaths have reached 19,465 (a daily increase of 54), while recoveries have climbed to 657,500, leaving the country with a balance of 50,630 active cases.
- Covid lessons: Health experts in South Africa say the country should learn from the second wave of Covid infection in Europe – where many countries have again be forced into lockdown. Professor Salim Abdool Karim said the second wave was driven by three things: complacency over social distancing regulation, super-spreader events and people letting their guard down due to the festive season. Experts say that it’s clear: when people get complacent, infections increase. They urged South Africans to take note of this and continue all social distancing measures. [EWN]
- Relief payments: Business and unions have both expressed disappointment at government’s decision to suspend TERS UIF relief for those affected by the Covid-19 lockdown, especially as the country has not yet returned to normal operations, and people are still in dire need of support. Business groups say they were caught by surprise by the decision, expecting the relief to be extended by three more months. Government has not given a direct explanation for why the support has been withdrawn. [Moneyweb]
- Dodgy SAA: Former SAA board member Yakhe Kwinana dodged questions at the state capture commission, but still managed to reveal damning operations at the failed airline, where the board would actively flout procurement rules and meddle in various affairs at the group. The revelations include the board attending operational meetings and negotiating contracts it had never seen – while Kwinana stands accused of strong-arming companies to siphon 30% of their revenues for BEE companies. Kwinina refused to answer questions directly. [Daily Maverick]
- Vaccine: Aspen Pharmacare has been boosted by new that it has agreed to make the Covid-19 vaccine candidate being developed by Johnson & Johnson at a factory in Port Elizabeth. South Africa is also a host country for clinical trials of various vaccines. Aspen also makes the generic anti-inflammatory drug dexamethasone, which was found to be an effective treatment for Covid-19 earlier in the year – marking this as the second big boost the group has received from the pandemic. [Bloomberg]
- Markets: The day has finally arrived for the US to head to the polling booths to choose their president, with polls indicating a Democrat win. A rally in the overnight market saw risk assets gain momentum as the IMF encouraged governments to provide more fiscal stimulus, while growth in Asia boosted sentiment. The rand starts the day on the front foot at R16.19 to the dollar, R18.87 to the euro and R20.94 to the pound. Commentary by Peregrine Treasury Solutions. [XE]