Flash Briefing: HIV epidemic threatens SA Covid recovery; Emigration ‘red flag’; SA fights to get off UK ‘red list’

  • The world’s biggest number of HIV cases is complicating South Africa’s efforts to fight the coronavirus pandemic, raising the risk of more mutated versions emerging and spreading across the globe. Many of the country’s 8.2 million HIV-infected people are immuno-compromised and scientists say they can harbor the coronavirus for longer, allowing it to mutate as it reproduces. As the world struggles to stay ahead of rapidly emerging variants, getting South Africa’s HIV-infected people vaccinated has become critical. The trouble is most of South Africa’s HIV-infected people are poor and marginalised. Many live in remote areas and have been largely left out of vaccination drives. 
  • South Africa and a host of other countries could soon be taken off the UK’s travel ‘red list’, according to The Telegraph and UK Independent. Citing information from Covid analyst Tim White, UK media outlets report that the nation is currently reviewing the list, and may even dismantle the ‘traffic light system’ in the coming months. In recent weeks, international relations and cooperation minister Naledi Pandor held talks with her UK counterpart to try and get South Africa removed from the list. The travel restrictions on travellers from South Africa have severely impacted trade and tourism between South Africa and the UK, she said. Pandor’s bid was backed up by dozens of local and multinational companies this week, through lobby group Business Leadership South Africa, which addressed a letter to UK prime minister Boris Johnson asking for the restrictions to be lifted.
  • South Africa’s tax base is steadily declining as more of the country’s skilled professionals look overseas for greener pastures, says Izak Smit, chief executive of the Professional Provident Society. According to Smit, the loss of these workers will not only impact revenue collection but also job creation, as many of these individuals develop businesses and generate wealth. Smit’s comments align with Treasury data published by Reuters in August, which shows that the Covid-19 crisis could prove to be a tipping point as more skilled people look to leave the country. Data shows that revenue from the three highest brackets will fall by 8%, according to previously unreported treasury forecasts. 

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