Here’s what is happening in and affecting South Africa today:
Coronavirus: Global Covid-19 infections have hit 133 million confirmed, with the death toll reaching 3 million. In South Africa, there have been 437 new cases, taking the total reported to 1,552,853. Deaths have reached 53,032 (a daily increase of 37), while recoveries have climbed to 1,478,820, leaving the country with a balance of 21,001 active cases. The total number of vaccines administered is 272,438.
- Vaccine rollout: South Africa’s vaccine rollout strategy, which has been on pause since February, is currently being revised, says health minister Dr Zweli Mkhize, with government considering suggestions and inputs from experts and communities on how to best to go about it. The consultations are mainly going around who should be included in the next phase of the rollout – initially meant for vulnerable people and essential workers. However, there are questions over who these groups are. Mkhize said government will inform the nation who should register for vaccines, once the plan is finalised. [EWN]
- Ivermectin: The High Court has ruled that doctors may prescribe ivermectin and medicines containing it to patients, and that it can be done at the same time applications are made to regulator Sahpra to register it. Before the order, doctors that wanted to prescribe the medicine had to wait for approval from Sahpra, which took an unknown amount of time, leaving patients vulnerable. Sahpra has not approved ivermectin for use in treatment against Covid-19, but opened up a ‘compassionate use’ programme where doctors could register its use on a case-by-case basis. The court case was brought to ensure patients got access to the drug much faster. [Moneyweb]
- Response: Eskom CEO Andre de Ruyter has denied allegations of racism, saying that appointments and changes made to executive positions at the power utility are based on performance and delivery. Eskom’s suspended chief procurement officer Solly Tshitangano claims De Ruyter made irregular appointments based on race, replacing black executives with white ones. However, the CEO shot these claims down by pointing out that black executives also replaced white ones in a ‘reshuffle’. He also dismissed other allegations made by Tshitanango, saying that the whole saga was initiated to disrupt work being done at the company. [News24]
- Data scrape: Facebook denies that 533 million users’ data was stolen in a ‘hack’ – saying that a third party scraped publicly-available information from its systems in 2019. Changes were made to the social network in September 2019 to prevent this. However, despite the scraping happening almost two years ago, security experts have called Facebook negligent, especially because it did not inform users of the scrape at the time. Data scraped includes names, numbers, birth dates and email addresses. Facebook said no passwords or financial data was taken. The group warned users to be mindful of what information they make public. [ENCA]
- Markets: Hopes of a global economic recovery as countries continue their vaccination rollout programmes have led to lower yields and ongoing risk appetite. This has seen the dollar slide to a two-week low and the rand test a break below R14.50/$. Locally, as South Africa’s vaccination programme slowly takes shape, a settlement agreement which was made an order of the court was reached between SAHPRA and four lobbying parties, to allow for the use of Ivermectin in the treatment against Covid-19. The rand remains upbeat, kicking the day off at R14.51/$, R17.21/€ and R20.05/£. [Citadel Global]