The South African government needs to urgently release a plan to protect the country and its economy, across all sectors, against the impact of this epidemic. Picture: Courtney Africa/African News Agency/ANA
The South African government needs to urgently release a plan to protect the country and its economy, across all sectors, against the impact of this epidemic. Picture: Courtney Africa/African News Agency/ANA

Government, tell us your plan to protect us and economy from coronavirus

By Sizwe Dlamini Time of article published Mar 11, 2020

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With the number of reported “isolated” COVID-19 cases growing in South Africa one can only commend the country’s citizens for taking it upon themselves to report to healthcare centres should they suspect having being exposed to the coronavirus.

The National Minister of Health, Zweli Mkhize, on Wednesday, announced that there had been the first laboratory-confirmed case of COVID-19 in the Western Cape after a 36-year-old male in the City of Cape Town presented himself to a private healthcare facility with flu-like symptoms and a recent travel history to Europe.

This after the City of Cape Town announced this week that it was prepared for COVID-19, after having received numerous questions about its preparedness to deal with any potential cases.

The City said it had also noted an increase in the number of enquiries about the staging of events, particularly with international participation, given the extent of COVID-19 in some countries to date.

“We take safety at events very seriously and we are working with all event organisers and the Western Cape Government to ensure the medical plans, as part of the event permitting process, take into consideration the Coronavirus. 

“As it stands, Cape Town is open for business. We will be advised by the relevant health authorities on a case to case basis. The City does, however, urge all event participants and spectators to follow the guidelines provided by both national and provincial health in dealing with hygiene matters,” said the City’s Mayoral Committee Member for Safety and Security, Alderman JP Smith in a statement.

The epidemic has had an unprecedented impact on all sectors of the global economy, from stocks to manufacturing as well as leading to some international airlines lowering their growth forecast. While the impact on big business is visible and we see some hard decisions being made, such as Italy being put on lockdown, it is the smaller businesses that are prone to feel its brunt.

Small, medium and micro-sized enterprises (SMMEs) – the heartbeat of most economies – are largely supported by tourism and are expected to be the largest driver of job creation in South Africa over the next few years. Nothing has been said about how the government plans to help SMMEs survive. This, however, is not to suggest that there nothing in the pipeline.

The South African government needs to urgently release a plan to protect the country and its economy, across all sectors, against the impact of this epidemic. The Health Minister needs to issue a national directive on how to deal with situations where there are large gatherings et al.

Tourism is a significant contributor to GDP growth and with the country already in a technical recession, things could get worse if this industry is not nurtured during this risky period.

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