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

Coronavirus: In South Africa, there have been 5,683 new cases of Covid-19, taking the total reported to 2,383,490. Deaths have reached 70,018 (+243), while recoveries have climbed to 2,169,452, leaving the country with a balance of 144,020 active cases. The total number of vaccines administered is 6,613,704 (+229,322).

  • Vaccines: The Department of Health says the decision to open up vaccines for those aged 18 to 34 was not a rushed one, and it will not overwhelm the system. It said the decision was based on an assessment of several important industries – such as retail and the public sector – where many employees are under 35. Expanding the vaccine rollout will ensure these industries can return to full operation faster. It also hopes that the younger population groups will assist the elderly in getting their vaccines, seeing as far fewer people over 60 ended up getting the shot than expected. [News24 – paywall]

  • Public wages: A majority of public-sector unions have accepted the government’s wage offer, which will see salaries increase by 1.5%, and workers receive a R1,000 cash bonus after tax. This is far below the 8% unions were demanding, but after negotiations collapsed, they said that they were left with few options. However, the unions described the acceptance as a ‘temporary measure’ and promised to be back at the negotiation table in time. A strike could not be planned due to South Africa’s Covid-19 regulations. [TimesLive]

  • Forced: SAA-owned domestic airline Mango has entered into business rescue, but analysts have been left scratching their heads – saying that, with only two planes in operation, the struggling airline should have been in administration ages ago, and should have entered it when SAA did. The move to enter business rescue was reportedly as a result of workers intervening. Tired of empty promises, three labour unions at Mango forced the government’s hand by filing papers at the South Gauteng High Court. [Moneyweb]

  • School’s in: Authorities in the education department say they are confident that primary schools will be able to return to full-time teaching on 2 August. Schools across South Africa opened this week, after being forced to close early due to the spread of Covid-19. In Gauteng, the education department reports 98% readiness among learners to return to full-time learning, despite a few hiccoughs. One of these is about 4,000 teachers who are not yet back to work, as they have not yet received a vaccine shot. This is due to illness, or other reasons such as vaccine hesitancy. The department wants to take a soft approach and try and convince outliers to get the vaccine. [EWN]

  • Markets: South Africa’s rand recovered from early losses on Monday, with concerns over rising Covid19 infections setting a cautious tone in global markets ahead of the U.S. Federal Reserve’s meeting this week. The currency fell last week after the South African Reserve Bank suggested on Thursday that interest rates would stay relatively low. The dollar has in recent sessions benefited from safe-haven buying on fears a surge in infections of the fast-spreading Delta variant could derail the global recovery, pressuring riskier assets, such as the rand. On Tuesday the rand was trading at R14.80/$, R17.46/€ and R20.46/£. [Reuters]