Here’s what is happening in and affecting South Africa today:
Coronavirus: Global Covid-19 infections have hit 124.8 million confirmed, with the death toll reaching 2.75 million. In South Africa, there have been 510 new cases, taking the total reported to 1,538,961. Deaths have reached 52,251 (a daily increase of 55), while recoveries have climbed to 1,465,20, leaving the country with a balance of 21,506 active cases. The total number of vaccines administered is 194,257.
- Third wave: Experts from the Nelson Mandela University in the Eastern Cape have warned that their statistical modelling shows that the third wave of Covid-19 could hit even sooner than expected – now projecting an increase in infections at the end of March and early April. This is sooner than the late April / early May projections previously published. The current modelling is based on data and scenario planning that correctly predicted the first and second peaks in the country, the experts said. They warned South Africans to do everything they can to avoid spreading the virus. [TimesLive]
- Disappointing: South Africa’s vaccine rollout has been disappointing, according to Wits University professor of vaccinology Shabir Madhi, who says the government lacks a clear rollout strategy. He said the goal of 40 million vaccinations by the end of the year is unlikely to happen, especially at the current rate of inoculation – while the country has to still contend with coming waves of the virus. The vaccine should still be focused on high risk individuals, as they pose the greatest threat to overfilling hospitals and putting strain on the healthcare system. 
- Crisis: Harrowing investigative reports have uncovered hospitals and healthcare workers in crisis in the Eastern Cape, which faces legal claims of over R40 billion, and shortages of staff, equipment, facilities and specialists. This has been an ongoing crisis for at least the last three years, that has been ignored by national government. The long list of issues has been exacerbated by infrastructure problems around electricity, red tape and bureaucracy, and inaction from provincial government. [Daily Maverick]
- Fuel: Oil prices crashed on Tuesday, following news that major economies, like Germany, would re-enter hard lockdown amid rising Covid-19 infection numbers. Oil prices were on a march to $70 a barrel before the lockdown news hit, with prices currently at $58-$60 a barrel. For South Africans, if lower prices persist, this could lead to a slight reprieve in terms of fuel prices – however with higher taxes and a weaker rand, it is unlikely to reverse increases expected in April. [EWN]
- Markets: Tension has ramped up between the West in general and China, following sanctions by the US and its allies, including the EU, the UK and Canada, against the Asian powerhouse for extreme human rights violations, which will likely see retaliation. At the same time several European countries, including Germany, have extended or reintroduced lockdowns as a third wave of the pandemic takes hold in the continent. The euro hit a four-month low against the greenback, as safe havens became the destination of choice yet again. The rand touched on R14.93/$, before recovering to the mid and high 14.80s. A word of caution, however, as we head into the day. The rand starts the day at R14.89 to the dollar, R17.64 to the euro and R20.45 to the pound. [Citadel Global]