Here’s what is happening in and affecting South Africa today:
Coronavirus: In South Africa, there have been 967 new cases of Covid-19, taking the total reported to 2,896,943. Deaths have reached 87,052 (+51), while recoveries have climbed to 2,760,093, leaving the country with a balance of 49,798 active cases. The total number of vaccines administered is 16,827,790 (+12,900).
- Third wave: South Africa has exited the third wave of Covid-19 according to experts, with the country recording an average of 2,000 new cases per day last week – a 40% decline in cases from the week before. According to senior researcher at the CSIR, Dr Ridhwaan Suliman, this marks the end of the third wave, with hospitalisations also dropping by 32%, and deaths decreasing by 35%. Suliman said that there are now only 4 new cases per 100,000 people, which is 11% of what we were seeing during the peak of the third wave a few weeks ago. [ENCA]
- Electricity prices: Energy regulator Nersa proposes an overhaul of Eskom’s price determination structures. The power utility currently uses a revenue-based determination to set electricity prices, which has resulted in the group raising electricity tariffs far above inflation so that it can recover billions in lost revenue. Nersa now proposes that Eskom move to a cost-to-serve model, which would require each power station to set tariffs based on their own supply profiles. Different supplies carry different profiles and meet different needs, it said, so the pricing structures need to differ, too. [Moneyweb]
- Fraud: The public sector medical aid scheme GEMS says that the industry is losing R22 billion a year to fraudulent claims. One of the most common fraudulent activities is pharmacies billing the medical scheme for high-cost medication only – particularly when they are in a remote location that couldn’t possibly service the numbers they purport. Other common fraudulent claims come from dieticians and physios billing for services they do not render; and collusion between patients and doctors, claiming back for things like hearing aids, and instead giving cash back. [Paywall – News24]
- Digital Vibes: Department of Health Director-General Dr Sandile Buthelezi has been suspended over his alleged role in the department’s Digital Vibes scandal. Buthelezi signed off R60 million in payments to the company for the irregular NHI and Covid communication contracts. The DG has been placed on ‘precautionary suspension’ ahead of a disciplinary hearing. Eyes are on deputy DG Anben Pillay, who reportedly signed off the first R74 million payment to the company, but is yet to face any disciplinary action. [Daily Maverick]
- Markets: South Africa’s rand gained strongly on Thursday, as the dollar fell on global markets and the central bank held its main interest rate at a record low. Although the South African Reserve Bank’s decision to keep its repo rate on hold at 3.5% was expected, some traders took the implied rate path in the bank’s Quarterly Projection Model as a sign that the scales were tipping towards a future rate hike. Friday was a public holiday. On Monday, the rand was trading at R14.93/$, R17.49/€ and R20.42/£.