5 important things happening in South Africa today

Here’s what is happening in and affecting South Africa today:

Coronavirus: In South Africa, there have been 11,125 new cases of Covid-19, taking the total reported to 3,031,694. Deaths have reached 89,966 (+1), while recoveries have climbed to 2,858,144, leaving the country with a balance of 83,584 active cases. The total number of vaccines administered is 26,348,830 (+24,447).

  • Vaccine mandates: President Cyril Ramaphosa is expected to receive the report on vaccine mandates soon, as businesses, unions and health groups call for the policy to be implemented. The South African Medical Research Council says that hospital admissions in the wake of the Omicron Covid variant are dominated by unvaccinated people. Unions have called for future lockdown restrictions to only apply to those who refuse to get vaccinated. Private companies, universities, and even some schools have already adopted mandatory vaccination policies, with more expected to follow suit. [EWN, TimesLive]

  • Omicron: As Omicron cases surge, scientists are starting to get an early idea of the risks it poses. While researchers are warning that it might be too early to tell, doctors are seeing a significantly different clinical profile in patients admitted for Covid in Tshwane hospitals, where the variant was first detected locally. While there has been a spike in hospital admissions, researchers found that most are on room-air breathing. The average length of stay in hospital is shorter than previous waves; most admissions are unvaccinated; vaccinated admissions have other chronic illnesses, and the majority of cases are younger people under the age of 50. [Daily Maverick]

  • Electricity prices: South Africa’s courts have ordered energy regulator Nersa to process Eskom’s tariff application, shooting down efforts to force the power utility to adopt a new methodology. Nersa argued that Eskom jumped the gun by applying for increased tariffs before the regulator could implement a new methodology – but by its own admission, it is yet to even develop one, and it is only supposed to kick in for the 2023/24 financial year, effectively scuppering the case. Eskom can now proceed with a tariff application using the ‘old’ methodology, where it is reportedly seeking to hike prices by 20%. [Moneyweb]

  • Festive warning: As South Africa heads into the festive season, road authorities are urging motorists to proceed with caution and abide by all road rules for their own safety. South Africa has one of the highest road fatality numbers globally, with many deaths occurring over the December holiday period. Traffic officials, especially those along popular Joburg to Durban routes, say they will be out in full force over the coming weeks to clamp down on violations. Officials said law enforcement would focus on drunk driving, speeding, and unroadworthy vehicles. [ENCA]

  • Markets: The South African rand weakened to R16.32 to the dollar last Friday following the news of the Omicron variant, but the currency has since recovered somewhat, buoyed by the fact that President Cyril Ramaphosa did not move South Africa into more stringent lockdown restrictions. Currency markets were steady at the close of the week, as investors awaited information on the threat posed by the Omicron variant and the speed with which the US Fed may reduce stimulus. The US Dollar Index was down 0.2% and has been retreating since news of the new variant first emerged. On Monday, the rand starts the week at R16.05/$, R18.11/€ and R21.24/£. [Citadel]

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5 important things happening in South Africa today