Here’s what is happening in and affecting South Africa today:
Coronavirus: Global Covid-19 infections have hit 110.8 million confirmed, with the death toll reaching 2.45 million. In South Africa, there have been 2,327 new cases, taking the total reported to 1,498,766. Deaths have reached 48,708 (a daily increase of 230), while recoveries have climbed to 1,403,214, leaving the country with a balance of 46,844 active cases.
- Third wave: As South Africa settles down from the second wave of Covid-19, government officials and health experts are all expecting a third wave to hit the country in winter. The second wave hit the country off-guard, but authorities will be better-prepared for the third wave. However, experts have warned that future surges in infections will likely be driven by new variants of the virus, which spread much faster. The key tool in combating these surges is behaviour change – something which South Africans were complacent with over the festive season. 
- Matric results: The first set of matric results are out, with the IEB exams showing an overall pass rate of 98.07%, down slightly from 98.82% in 2019. All candidates who passed achieved a pass that is good enough to enter tertiary study, with 88.42% qualifying for degree study. Over 13,000 candidates wrote the IEB examinations. The National Senior Certificate exam results will be released on Monday, 22 February. [ENCA]
- Ivermectin: A new study into the ivermectin drugs available in South Africa has complicated the drug’s suitability for dispensation in the country. The study looked at the formulation of 7 different types of ivermectin being sold in South Africa. It found that 80% contained unregistered and undeclared active ingredients, which are unknown to both the prescriber and patient. This could lead to health complications and legal issues for doctors who prescribe it. It was also found that nearly all had been illegally imported, bypassing health regulators. [TimesLive]
- Tax relief: More economists are moving from a tax gloom to a tax boon outlook ahead of the budget speech, noting that positive signs in tax collection over the last two months gives hope that South Africans will avoid any tax shocks, and may even see tax relief from fiscal drag. This is where Treasury adjusts the tax brackets along with inflation so that it doesn’t automatically push people into higher brackets. Other predictions point to many ‘buzzword’ taxes also likely being left behind. [Moneyweb, BusinessTech]
- Markets: Reflation trade is the buzz word for today, with investors repositioning accordingly. Gold hit a 7-month low while the rand remained steady. US jobless claims yesterday rattled sentiment slightly as the number came in higher than expected, causing concerns about the pace of recovery in the US. The focus shifts towards the national budget for next week, as Tito Mboweni will be seen walking the tightrope yet again. The rand starts the day at R14.62 to the dollar, R17.67 to the euro and R20.41 to the pound. [Peregrine Treasury Solutions]