South African President Cyril Ramaphosa on Sunday said the coronavirus in South Africa constituted a grave emergency far worse than experienced over the last century, which would have a lasting impact on the economy.
There are now at least 61 confirmed cases of coronavirus in the country just a week after a KwaZulu-Natal man became the first person on home soil to test positive.
South Africa has declared a national state of disaster to contain the coronavirus with President Ramaphosa announcing a raft of measures aimed at containing the outbreak.
Foreign nationals travelling from eight high-risk countries have been banned to enter the South African borders from Wednesday, 18 March 2020.
These countries are Italy, Germany, the US, the UK, China, Iran, Spain and South Korea.
Ramaphosa addressed the nation from the Union Buildings in an unprecedented Sunday evening briefing only hours after Cabinet met to discuss South Africa’s COVID-19 plan.
He said government would now work on a national response to the economy, which would include a form of a stimulus package to try and curb the impact.
Although there is not much information on how long the travel bans, restrictions and other limitations might last in order to be effective, one thing is clear: Ramaphosa said the impact of the disease on the country would be lasting.
“In the last few weeks, we have seen a dramatic decline in economic activity in our major trading partners, a sudden drop in international tourism and severe instability across all global markets.”
He anticipated effects of the decline in exports and tourist arrivals will be exacerbated by both an increase in infections and the measures we’re required to take to contain the spread of the disease.
Ramaphosa said with companies now taking on the impact of limited movement and contact of workers, jobs would most likely be cut.“This will have a potentially severe impact on production, the viability of businesses, job retention and job creation. Cabinet is therefore in the process of finalising a comprehensive package of interventions to mitigate the expected impact of COVID-19 on our economy. This package, which will consist of various fiscal and other measures, will be concluded following consultation