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Coronavirus outbreak not what SA economy needs right now - economist

Economist Mike Schussler said that depending on where the virus spreads, a downturn in the travel and tourism sector might be one of its effects.

FILE: Passengers arriving from China wait in line to be checked by health officials at the Julius Nyerere International Airport in Dar Es Salaam on 29 January 2020. Picture: AFP

CAPE TOWN - An economist said that the coronavirus outbreak was exactly what South Africa’s economy did not need.

Economist Mike Schussler said that depending on where the virus spreads, a downturn in the travel and tourism sector might be one of its effects.

At least 170 people have died in China and more than 7,500 people have been infected with the virus.

A map showing countries and territories where cases of the China virus have been confirmed as of 28 January, 2020. Picture: AFP

Schussler said that irrespective of whether the virus reached local shores, it impacts on China's economy would have a knock-on effect on South Africa.

"Just from the Chinese side that we know at the moment, I think there will be an impact on our economy. It's difficult to give numbers right now but certainly, on top of other things that are slowing, this is exactly what we didn't want."

He pointed out that a downturn in the travel and tourism sector would affect South Africa, as would a drop in production in China which could lead to lower prices for commodities like iron and coal.

"That then might become a problem for the South African industry overall that we're looking at. It is a problem I think that we could see in the future and obviously as a major commodity exporter, that will have an impact on us."

The National Health Department on Thursday reaffirmed there were no cases of the novel coronavirus in the country.

WATCH: Minister of Health says SA is on high alert for coronavirus

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