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UPDATE 1-S.Africa's Life Healthcare sees first quarter revenue up 5%

JOHANNESBURG, Jan 27 (Reuters) - South Africa’s Life Healthcare Group Holdings Ltd said on Wednesday revenue for the quarter ended Dec. 31 rose by 5% compared to the same period a year ago, although earnings dipped 15%.

It said non-emergency hospital visits surged in October and November but the company once again saw a drop in visits in December as a second wave of the coronavirus gripped its South African business and parts of international operations.

It did not disclose actual expected numbers for net profit or revenue for the December quarter.

The company, which is amongst the top three private hospital chains in South Africa, said its normalised EBITDA or earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortisation, generally considered a metric of profit from operations, took a hit in the quarter due to “operational costs associated with COVID-19.”

Its EBITDA for the quarter decreased by approximately 15% against the December 2019 quarter.

Life Healthcare’s shares rose 1.97% after the announcement against a broader index that traded in the red with a drop of 0.17% at 0730 GMT.

The company said it has presented a detailed plan for the vaccination of its staff, doctors, allied healthcare workers and other key individuals, to the South African government in anticipation of the arrival of vaccines.

South Africa is still to secure its first batch of COVID-19 vaccines and the government has said it expects to get the first consignment of 1.5 million doses before the end of January from Serum Institute of India.

Life Healthcare did not say if its plan was approved by the government. (Reporting by Promit Mukherjee, editing by Louise Heavens and Raju Gopalakrishnan)

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