Flash Briefing: Explosive new evidence from US intelligence in probe of Covid ‘lab leak’; Netcare; Telkom; Rand; Guptas

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  • South Africa’s government spent R49bn ($3.5bn) on contracts linked to the Gupta family, who’ve been accused of being in a corrupt relationship with former President Jacob Zuma. The estimate was compiled by Shadow World Investigations and shared with the judicial inquiry into state corruption on Monday in Johannesburg. The Guptas and Zuma deny any wrongdoing, says Bloomberg.
  • South Africa’s biggest healthcare service provider Netcare on Monday reported a 61.9% drop in profit for the six months to March 31, reports Reuters. Adjusted headline earnings per share (HEPS), the main profit measure for South African companies, fell to R27.3 from R71.7 in the same period a year earlier.
  • Telkom promised to revise its plans to suspend its dividend after the country’s third largest mobile operator reported a jump in annual profit on Monday, says Reuters. The partly state-owned operator had announced it would suspend dividends for three years from the 2021 financial year in order to conserve cash for radio frequency spectrum auctions and other expenditure. A new policy will be announced at its interim results in November.
  • Three researchers from China’s Wuhan Institute of Virology became sick enough in November 2019 that they sought hospital care, according to a previously undisclosed US intelligence report that could add weight to growing calls for a fuller probe of whether the Covid-19 virus may have escaped from the laboratory. This is according to BizNews Premium partner The Wall Street Journal. The details of the reporting go beyond a State Department fact sheet, issued during the final days of the Trump administration, which said that several researchers at the lab, a centre for the study of coronaviruses and other pathogens, became sick in autumn 2019 “with symptoms consistent with both Covid-19 and common seasonal illness.” The disclosure of the number of researchers, the timing of their illnesses and their hospital visits come on the eve of a meeting of the World Health Organisation’s decision-making body, which is expected to discuss the next phase of an investigation into Covid-19’s origins.

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