The spread of the coronavirus has dealt another blow to a South African economy already in recession and reeling from power shortages, and there’s little the government can do to counter it, media report has indicated.
Covid-19 cases in Africa’s most-industrialised nation have doubled every two days since the first one was announced on March 5, with 62 infections now confirmed. Faced with the prospect of a tidal wave of patients overwhelming an already stretched public health system, President Cyril Ramaphosa on Sunday announced travel restrictions on some foreign nationals, port and school closures and bans on large public gatherings to curb the disease’s spread.
While health experts welcomed the government interventions, Ramaphosa acknowledged the potentially severe and lasting impact on employment and production. Domestic financial markets reflected investor anxiety about the effects the disease may have: stocks fell by the most on record on Monday, the rand weakened as much as 2.9% against the dollar and bond yields surged.