‘It’s difficult to assess coronavirus impact on business’

Reading Time: 3 minutes

Econometrix director and chief economist Dr Azar Jammine says it is difficult to assess what the actual impact of the outbreak of the coronavirus will be on business.

President Cyril Ramaphosa says government, business and labour are putting together a package of economic measures to mitigate the effects of the coronavirus on the country.

On Sunday, the President addressed the nation about government’s measures to try and slow the spread of the virus in South Africa.

Ramaphosa says 61 people in South Africa are now confirmed to have contracted the coronavirus.

In the video below, President Ramaphosa says South Africa will now enforce travel bans to high-risk countries amid COVID-19

He says the coronavirus is posing significant challenges to the economy.

Jammine says much depends on the extent on which banks can also commit to assist the affected companies.

“There is a general expectation that there will be a reduction in interest rates this week, so that if companies get into difficulty, at least they can borrow money much more cheaply than before.”

“In order to rescue the situation, in certain instances in which companies will be threatening to cut down enormously, it will involve banks being able to lend money out to provide credit without expecting huge interest payments for that,” explains Jammine.

Saftu welcomes government announcement on plans to reduce spreading of coronavirus

South African Federation of Trade Unions’ General Secretary Zwelinzima Vavi says President Cyril Ramaphosa displayed leadership when he address the nation on coronavirus.

He says President Ramaphosa’s intervention was critical to South African citizens.

However, Vavi says the measures that the President took could have been much better if they were introduced in the first case of coronavirus in the country.

He says outsourced workers, labour brokers and short term workers will be the first to be affected, or to lose their jobs in this crisis.

Speaking on The Globe Vavi said the measures that are introduced by the President will immediately impact on the economy that is already on recession.

In this video , Zwelinzima Vavi reacts to President Cyril Ramaphosa’s nation address on coronavirus:

Numsa rejects President Ramaphosa’s travel ban on high-risk countries

The National Union of Metalworkers of South Africa (Numsa) says the decision by cabinet and President Ramaphosa to implement a travel ban on high-risk countries from this week is shocking and reckless.

The union was reacting to a list of measures announced by the President in an effort to contain the pandemic in South Africa.

Ramaphosa says 45 of the country’s 72 ports of entries will also be shut down.

Cabinet has also decided to revoke visas of foreign nationals from high-risk countries and that South Africa will not be issuing visas to foreigners from those countries.

Limitation of physical contact

People have also been encouraged to limit physical contact such as hugs and handshakes. The President has encouraged people to rather opt for the shoulder greeting.

Cabinet will also establish a National Command Council, chaired by him, to co-ordinate emergency response to the virus.

“This National Command Council will include among other members of the Inter-Ministerial Committee and will meet three times a week to co-ordinate all aspects of our extraordinary emergency response.”

A team of ministers will brief the media on government interventions in various sectors of the departmental portfolios on Monday, 16 March at the Dirco Media Centre in Rietondale, Pretoria.

Below is a Live Tracking of the cases, death toll and other information, updated daily: