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South Africa’s President Announces $26 Billion Coronavirus Rescue Package

President Cyril Ramaphosa delivers his State of the Nation address at parliament in Cape Town, South Africa, February 13, 2020. REUTERS/Sumaya Hisham

South African President Cyril Ramaphosa has unveiled a $26.3 billion “extraordinary budget” to help the country recover from the economic impact of the coronavirus pandemic.

President Ramaphosa said Tuesday in a nationally televised address the budget will address the “hunger and social distress” the pandemic has caused among South Africa’s poorest citizens. He said some 250,000 food parcels will be distributed across the country in the coming days, and the country will increase financial grants for child support and for unemployed citizens.

Ramaphosa said the new aid package is equal to 10% of the gross domestic product of South Africa, the continent’s most industrialized nation.

The president imposed a strict lockdown on March 26 during the early stages of the outbreak in the country, banning anyone but essential workers from leaving home for the next 21 days. Ramaphosa said the government will follow a “risk-adjusted approach” to reopening the economy, and that he will unveil a phased-in plan on easing the lockdown on Thursday.

South Africa has 3,465 confirmed cases of COVID-19 infections, including 58 fatalities.