The potential public health consequences of Covid-19 have led governments around the globe to take extraordinary measures to protect citizens’ health and their countries’ health systems. Covid-19 and the associated lockdown decisions have created severe restrictions on the supply- and demand-sides of the South African economy which are likely to deepen the existing recession. There is a large body of international evidence on the relationship between economic recessions and mortality but little of it focuses on low- and middle-income countries (LMICs). On balance international evidence points to recessions leading to a short-term increase in mortality in LMICs, due mainly to unemployment and loss of income. The channels for and types of mortality and ill health are complex and varied. In LMICs and in South Africa specifically, health areas that are likely to be most impacted include infectious diseases (e.g. HIV and TB), non-communicable diseases including preventable cancers, and child health. Data from the NIDS-CRAM Wave 1 survey show that child hunger and general hunger are at high levels and are concerning for future health impacts, in particular, for infectious diseases and child health. A number of policy recommendations are shared that can mitigate the impacts of the economy on health.