South African President Cyril Ramaphosa has announced an economic relief package worth $26bn (£21bn) intended to protect companies and three million workers during the coronavirus pandemic.
In a televised address, he said the assistance amounted to 10% of South Africa’s entire GDP. Funds would provisionally be diverted from the national budget, but discussions were also underway with the World Bank and International Monetary Fund.
Mr Ramaphosa said economic relief measures include tax relief, wage support through the unemployment insurance fund and funding to small businesses.
More than 17 million South Africans who are already receiving social grants from the government will be given more cash to sustain themselves.
This includes pensioners, the unemployed and recipients of child grants. Small businesses will also benefit from the economic support package.
Some $1bn (£814,000) were being set aside for hunger relief.
Mr Ramaphosa acknowledged that during just four weeks of lockdown, the number of people plunged into poverty and suffering food insecurity had risen dramatically.
He said the lockdown had allowed the government space to save tens of thousands of lives. But he said that after 3,400 confirmed infections and 58 deaths, the country was still in the early stages of the pandemic.