News in South Africa 14th December:

1. Ramaphosa to address nation tonight:

President Cyril Ramaphosa will address the nation tonight at 20h00.

Ramaphosa to address nation tonight
“President Cyril Ramaphosa addresses nation on developments in South Africa’s risk-adjusted strategy to manage the spread of Coronavirus COVID-19” by GovernmentZA is licensed under CC BY-ND 2.0

President Cyril Ramaphosa is expected to give details of a wide range of new restrictions on Monday evening as the country battles a second wave of COVID-19.

Over the weekend, he met with Cabinet to discuss saving lives versus livelihoods.

The address also comes after a meeting of the national command council and the presidential coordinating council.
It’s understood Ramaphosa has also met with the governing party’s alliance partners.

It’s the economic cluster’s bid for limited restrictions versus the health and police departments concerns over capacity that Ramaphosa has to consider.

This with some provinces already concerned about the growing numbers of COVID-19 cases as the holiday season gets under way.

Meanwhile in Gauteng, as numbers grow, there is greater concern over how the province will cope with the return of holidaymakers in January.

2. Load shedding suspended for now:

Eskom has suspended load shedding as its emergency reserves recovered overnight.

The power utility however urged the public to continue using electricity sparingly, saying that the power system remained severely constrained. Some 10 661MW of capacity was unavailable due to unplanned maintenance, over and above the 8 229MW which was offline for planned maintenance.

“Eskom is pleased to announce that no load shedding will be implemented from Sunday as the emergency generation reserves have sufficiently recovered overnight. Eskom thanks the people for their understanding and support during the implementation of load shedding,” it wrote in a statement.

On Friday night, Eskom had planned to implement Stage 2 load shedding throughout the weekend. But on Saturday afternoon it said this would be reduced this to Stage 1 on Sunday as its emergency generation reserves started to show significant recovery.

3. Tobacco ban ruled as unconstitutional:

The Western Cape High Court has ruled that the tobacco sales ban during the country’s hard lockdown was not necessary or consistent with the South African Constitution.

Tobacco giant, the British American Tobacco South Africa (BATSA) took the Department of Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs (Cogta) to Court in May over the ban of tobacco product sales. Although the ban was lifted at the end of August, its arguments had already been heard by the Court which reserved its judgment until now.

In the ruling that was made on Friday, the three Western Cape High Court judges, who presided over the case, said Regulation 45, which Cogta Minister Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma relied upon to effect the ban “cannot and does not withstand constitutional scrutiny”.

“Likewise, we have found Regulation 45 to be neither necessary, nor can it be said it furthers the objectives set out in section 27 (2) of the Act,” read the judgment.

Regulation 45 stated that “the sale of tobacco, tobacco products, e-cigarettes and related products is prohibited, except for export” to curb the spread of the Covid-19. Section 27(2) specifically empowered the minister to make regulations concerning the movement of persons and goods.

In a statement issued on Saturday, BATSA said that its view that the tobacco sales ban was “unjustified and unconstitutional” had been vindicated by the high court ruling. “The five-month ban on tobacco and vapour products sales was ill-considered, unlawful and has worsened the illicit trade in cigarettes and vapour products in the country,” the statement read.

4. MTN shares plummeted:

Telecommunications companies in Nigeria, including MTN Group Ltd. and Airtel Africa Plc, will meet authorities to discuss the suspension of SIM-card sales pending an audit by the industry regulator of their compliance with registration rules.

“MTN Nigeria customers can continue to access all other services such as airtime and data purchases” and support, the company said in an emailed statement, adding it had complied with the .

The Nigerian Communications Commission on Thursday ordered an immediate halt to the sale, registration and activation of new SIM cards until it completed the review. It didn’t say how long the process would take.

MTN shares fell as much as 8.6% in Johannesburg, the most in almost seven months, and were 8% lower as of 12:24 p.m., after retreating 3.8% on Thursday. Airtel Africa was 2% lower in London.

5. SA not doing better than other countries:

SA, and in fact the whole African continent, has been touted as a region that was spared the Covid-19 mortality horror of other regions like Western Europe.

The country was also recently listed as being the 18th worst hit when it comes to Covid-19.

But how accurate are these ratings and comparisons?

According to Wits University virology Prof Shabir Madhi, we need to tread carefully when making such pronouncements. “We need to be careful when we interpret the data,” he said recently on a webinar hosted by MyHealthLive, explaining that too many variables are in the mix.

“When using excess mortality data, our rate in SA is about 80 out of 100,000 people dying from Covid-19. That figure is in fact worse than the UK’s own first wave where it was 65 deaths per one 100,000. In Italy it was 110 per 100,000. So, relative to the size of our population, we were just as badly, if not more, affected than some European countries,” he said.

However, there are different ways to look at the data.

Even though our mortality rate was similar, in Spain, just under 10% of people were infected (it ranges from 2% to 12% depending on which part of the country you’re talking about). In SA, surveillance in the Cape metro suggested that 35% to 45% of urban adults were affected compared to about 10% in high-income countries.

So, the mortality rate per chunk of the population was similar, but we had far more people being infected.

“You can see, then, that our infection mortality rate was much lower than high income countries. But in terms of absolute numbers, we were just as badly affected. It’s in deaths among the infected that we were better off.”

All information sourced from articles posted by: BusinessTech, Business Insider, EWN, Fin24, Bloomberg, and TimesLive.

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