Former Johannesburg mayor and founder of the People's Dialogue Herman Mashaba believes that South Africans can beat the epidemic outbreak of coronavirus through unity.

In a statement, Mashaba said President Cyril Ramaphosa announced tough but necessary measures to limit the spread of coronavirus in the country.

“Our priority as a nation must be to limit the spread of the disease to the general population and particularly to vulnerable communities where measures such as social distancing or self-isolation are impractical.

“The failure to do so would have a catastrophic impact on the millions of South Africans living below the poverty line, without access to proper sanitation and quality healthcare,” he said.

Mashaba said it would be disastrous for many South Africans who suffer from diseases that compromise their immune such as HIV/AIDS and place them in the high-risk category if they contract coronavirus.

“It is especially for these South Africans that we cannot afford to approach the Covid-19 pandemic with complacency any longer,” he said.

The self-made businessman said the disease was a threat to the economy at large.

“Numerous industries will be impacted in the coming months, either directly as in the case of the tourism industry, or indirectly such as those businesses that rely on imported raw materials from countries that are facing similar challenges,” he said.

“As businesses are forced to make difficult operational decisions, I would urge them to show compassion for their employees and assist them where possible to weather the storm that lies before us,” Mashaba added.