Here’s what is happening in and affecting South Africa today:
Coronavirus: In South Africa, there have been 2,465 new cases of Covid-19, taking the total reported to 2,952,500. Deaths have reached 89,771 (+114), while recoveries have climbed to 2,843,961, leaving the country with a balance of 18,768 active cases. The total number of vaccines administered is 25,123,452 (+121,220).
- Bleak Friday: The UK government has placed South Africa and five other countries onto its much-maligned travel ‘red list’ following the emergence of a new Covid-19 variant in Southern Africa. UK health Secretary Sajid Javid said that from noon on Friday (12h00, 26 November), flights to and from the countries will be temporarily banned. Any UK nationals arriving from the specified countries will have to quarantine. The variant, designated as B.1.1.529 by the WHO, has sparked concerns about its transmissibility, severity and potential vaccine resistance. [BusinessTech]
- New variant: The emergence of a new Covid variant in South Africa is already wreaking havoc, with health authorities racing to answer vital questions around its transmissibility, severity and most importantly, its potential resistance to vaccines. While these questions remain unanswered for now, the health department has urged South Africans to get vaccinated. Health minister Joe Phaahla noted with concern that only 41% of the population have received one dose and said that there is plenty of vaccine stock to innoculate the population. [EWN]
- Nuclear option: Energy regulator Nersa has revealed for the first time its reasons for agreeing with energy minister Gwede Mantashe that South Africa needs to tap into nuclear energy for the country’s power needs. The regulator says that South Africa needs to bolster its baseload energy, arguing that renewable energy is too inconsistent to meet the base needs for the country. Mantashe is pushing to procure 2,500MW in nuclear energy as part of the post-2030 power mix. New nuclear energy is expected by 2035, with the national baseload anticipated to be 38,500MW. [Moneyweb]
- Party poopers: The ANC has admitted that voters punished the party because they associate it with corruption, high levels of unemployment, and being behind the 21-month lockdown that has restricted their lives. However, despite the historic low for the party – where it only managed to get 45.6% of the overall vote – it said that internal projections put the result as low as 38%. The ANC’s head of elections, Fikile Mbalula, has been trying to spin the party’s loss as a good performance and has blamed coalitions and even the SABC for working against the party. [News24 – paywall]
- Markets: The rand fell to its weakest level in over a year on Thursday on the back of the recently-discovered B.1.1529 variant and a new UK travel ban. While researchers have yet to determine whether the B.1.1529 variant is more transmissible or lethal than previous ones, authorities worldwide have been quick to act. The UK and Israel temporarily banned flights from South Africa and five neighbouring countries as a precautionary measure. On Friday, the rand was at R16.19/$, R18.17/€ and R21.54/£.