With South Africa’s economy already feeling the pinch of the Covid-19 pandemic, President Cyril Ramaphosa has announced that government is on the verge of finalising a comprehensive package of interventions to mitigate the expected impact.
The president announced this in an address to the nation on Sunday after he called an urgent special Cabinet meeting.
This as the number of confirmed coronavirus cases in South Africa increased to 61, with an alarming new development of domestic transmissions.
He also announced bold measures in response to the coronavirus and declared a national state of disaster. These measures were expected to have a severe impact on the country’s already strained economy, which is currently in recession.
The measures include a travel ban for foreign nationals from severely-affected countries – Italy, Iran, South Korea, Spain, Germany, United States, United Kingdom and China – from Wednesday.
China and several European countries are South Africa’s biggest trading partners. Many of the world’s hardest hit countries have recorded massive drops in their stock markets.
“The anticipated effects of the decline in exports and tourist arrivals will be exacerbated by both an increase in infections and the measures we are required to take to contain the spread of the disease. This will have a potentially severe impact on production, the viability of businesses, job retention and job creation,” Ramaphosa said.
He added that a stimulus package will consist of various fiscal and other measures to be concluded after consultation with business, labour and other relevant institutions.
“It is clear that this disease will be extremely disruptive. Our priority must be to safeguard the health and well-being of all South Africans, to minimise the number of infections and to ensure all those infected get proper treatment.”
As part of the intensification effort, Ramaphosa will chair a national command council, which will include members of the inter-ministerial committee dealing with the Covid-19 outbreak. The council will meet three times a week to co-ordinate aspects of the emergency response.