A worker wearing protective gear sprays disinfectant on a truck before entering the area most of infected with coronavirus in the country, at the town of Debar, in the western part of North Macedonia, on Wednesday, March 18, 2020. (AP Photo/Boris Grdanoski)
A worker wearing protective gear sprays disinfectant on a truck before entering the area most of infected with coronavirus in the country, at the town of Debar, in the western part of North Macedonia, on Wednesday, March 18, 2020. (AP Photo/Boris Grdanoski)

Coronavirus pandemic will hit SA economy hard experts predict

By ASANDA SOKANYILE Time of article published Mar 21, 2020

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Cape Town - THE adverse effects of the Covid-19 pandemic post the outbreak may see a further 5% shrinkage in the economy, leading to an even higher unemployment rate - now at 29%.

Economist Mike Schussler warned that all tourism activities in the Western Cape would be worst hit.

“The impact on restaurants, hotels, even Uber and Bolt drivers will be huge. Thousands of people who normally make money for themselves may not be able to because of the pandemic. The impact of the virus will hit these sectors very hard,” said Schussler.

“Wholesalers supplying to restaurants will take a hit. Nursery schools will lose money because they have to stay closed. The plus side to all of this is for the pharmaceutical companies and food producers,” said Schussler.

Professor Neil Rankin from Stellenbosch University told Weekend Argus that while data was not yet comprehensive enough to determine how badly the virus would affect the local economy, “the big, and lasting effect, will be on employment. It is hard to tell currently what the magnitude will be”.

“Real-time data that I’ve been looking at suggests that sales are down by between 20% and 50% now, and that’s likely to get worse. The Western Cape is likely to be hit harder given its reliance on tourism and other services.”

However, the provincial government has committed to assisting the travel and tourism industry.

“A host of measures are being actioned to support the tourism and travel sector to adapt, which includes assisting industry stakeholders and visitors to the Western Cape with issues such as cancellations and postponements, insurance and other staff- and labour-related concerns,” it said in a statement.

The cancellation of the Two Oceans Marathon as a result of the pandemic has seen runners up in arms as organisers allegedly refuse to give them refunds for the event. The race would have taken place between April 8 and 11.

Organisers sold 11000 entries for the 56km ultramarathon at a cost of R575 each, while for 21km, it sold 16000 entries at R550 each. For the ultramarathon, they made over R6million and nearly R9m for the half marathon.

Consumer Goods and Services Ombudsman (CGSO) Magauta Mphahlele has called for a review of the policy given the outbreak of the pandemic.

“While it is the view of the CGSO, based on its interpretation of the spirit and intent of the Consumer Protection Act, that consumers have a right to a full refund in these circumstances, if a postponement is possible, we urge consumers to rather take this option than request a refund - to minimise the impact on suppliers, who are also not at fault,” she said.

The health risks for people with pre-existing conditions are also causing a stir, with current numbers indicating that people aged between 22 and 85 have been infected in the country, with at least one 5-year-old.

Although there are a few local infections, most of the cases have a travel history. However, research shows that people between the ages of 60 and 80 are most at risk of dying, as well as those with pre-existing conditions such as diabetes.

A 65-year-old pensioner from Mitchells Plain, Wendy Jones, said she feared testing and would rather just lock herself in her home until the worst was over.

“The people at the clinic told us to keep safe and wash our hands regularly. I may do it, but what if other people don’t do it and I come into contact with them and get sick? I have four grandchildren and I want to see them all grow up, so I stay in my house and do what the nurses told me because I have enough ailments of my own,” she said.

Provinicial health department spokesperson Mark van der Heever confirmed that “older persons and persons with pre-existing medical conditions appear to develop serious illness more often than others”.

Weekend Argus

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