South Africa’s recession deepened in the first quarter of 2020, with official data on Tuesday showing that GDP contracted 2% from the previous three months, led by declines in mining and manufacturing.

It was the third consecutive quarter of contraction and followed a 1.4% decline in GDP in the October to December quarter.

Statistics South Africa said mining contracted by 21.5% in the January to March quarter, while manufacturing was down 8.5%.

Compared to the same period a year ago, GDP shrank 0.1% in the first quarter after a 0.5% decline in the fourth quarter of 2019.

The Covid-19 pandemic, which has severely curtailed economic activity in South Africa as elsewhere, means the outlook remains gloomy. National treasury sees GDP contracting by 7.2% this year.

A strict nationwide lockdown from late March has been partially eased to allow key sectors like mining and retail to resume operations.  — Reported by Mfuneko Toyana, with writing by Olivia Kumwenda-Mtambo, (c) 2020 Reuters