Minister of Tourism, Mmamoloko Kubayi-Ngubane, has recognised the potential impact the global outbreak of COVID-19 on the tourism industry and pledged government’s support to helping businesses minimise the impact.

The Minister noted that the local tourism industry had already suffered serious losses and that these losses were expected to increase the longer global travel restrictions were in place.

According to Kubayi-Ngubane, the impact of the virus could lead to closure of businesses and severe job losses.

“The economic impact of the coronavirus will be felt in every corner of the world and almost every sector of the economy,” she pointed out, adding that in this scenario, the global economy descends into a recession and South Africa’s economy will suffer significant contraction for 2020.

To mitigate against the potential negative impact on businesses and jobs, Government will engage Treasury to assist businesses in distress to access the employment incentives that have been put in place.

“Government will also negotiate with various meeting and events owners to postpone to future dates, based on scenarios to minimise cancellations,” she explained.

New cases

UPDATE: Health Minister Zweli Mkhize retracted the statement that South Africa had its first confirmed local transmission of COVID-19 a few hours after the announcement was made. As of today (March 13) South Africa has only 16 confirmed cases.

Today (March 12), South Africa confirmed its first local transmission of COVID-19 in the Free State.

According to the Department of Health, a 32-year-old male came into contact with a Chinese businessman, making it the first case of local transmission, as all other cases have been by people who had travelled abroad. 

Furthermore, three other cases – related to international travel – were also confirmed, bringing the total number of confirmed cases to 17.

The three new confirmed cases were from KwaZulu Natal, Mpumalanga and Gauteng.

The Department said at this stage, all patients were in self-quarantine and had mild to moderate symptoms. They are also on symptomatic treatment. 

“Our tracing teams are now making a list and have started contacting individuals that have been identified as these patients’ contacts,” the Department said in a statement.