Here’s what is happening in and affecting South Africa today:
Coronavirus: In South Africa, a total of 35,715 tests were conducted in the last 24 hours, with 1,149 new cases reported, representing a 3.2% positivity rate. A further 59 Covid-19 related deaths have been reported, taking total fatalities to 87,981 to date. The total number of vaccines administered is 18,510,943 (+225,023 in the last 24 hours).
- Mass action: The Congress of South African Trade Unions (Cosatu) will embark on a national strike on Thursday, to apply pressure on the government and private sector to “fix the economic mess” the country finds itself in. The trade federation said it wants the reversal of budget cuts that have led to an unacceptable wage freeze in the public service, the disintegration of the Commission for Conciliation Mediation and Arbitration, and retrenchments in state-owned companies. [News24]
- Red list: The UK is set to slash its travel red list to about a dozen countries, but plans for replacing the requirement for a negative PCR test with a lateral flow one are still uncertain. Destinations including Brazil, Mexico and South Africa are expected to be moved off the red list on Thursday, meaning passengers returning from these countries, travelling to the UK, will nolonger need to isolate in a hotel for 11 nights at a cost of more than R40,000. [The Guardian]
- Top cop: National Police Commissioner Khehla Sitole has reportedly been served with a notice of intention to suspend him. In January, a court ruled he and his deputies had ‘breached their duties’ by not providing and declassifying documents to the Independent Police Investigative Directorate. [eNCA]
- Mandatory vaccines: Private hospital groups Mediclinic and Life Healthcare are the latest South African businesses to introduce Covid-19 vaccination policies for staff and service providers. Mediclinic’s policy, which came into effect on 1 October, requires everyone to be fully vaccinated by February 2022. Life Healthcare told staff last week that it would introduce a compulsory vaccination policy requiring all head office employees to be vaccinated by 1 December. [BusinessDay]
- Markets: South Africa’s rand retreated on Wednesday, pressured by a firmer dollar and rising US Treasury yields, as nervousness that surging energy prices will stoke inflation and interest rate hikes drove investors towards safe-haven assets. On Thursday, the rand was trading at R14.98/$, R17.32/€ and R20.36/£.