South African business confidence dropped to its lowest in seven months in March as the global COVID-19 pandemic impacted vehicles sales and saw the rand currency weaken, a survey showed on Wednesday.

The South African Chamber of Commerce and Industry’s (Sacci) monthly business confidence index (BCI) fell to 89.9 in March from 92.7 in February.

The March reading was the lowest since August 2019.

South African President Cyril Ramaphosa imposed a nationwide lockdown at the end of March to curb the spread of the new coronavirus.

The lockdown crashed domestic demand at a time when the economy had already slipped into a recession.

“The economic effect of the COVID-19 on trading partners and lately on the South African economy became more evident and pronounced towards the end of March 2020,” Sacci said in a statement.

“The COVID-19 outbreak will make it difficult to attend to structural economic matters in the short-term.”