Ramaphosa deploys soldiers to fight Covid-19 in Eastern Cape


Diana Chiyangwa

The South African Defence Force (SANDF) on Saturday deployed 53 health care workers in the Eastern Cape Province.

The team left Waterkloof Air force Base in Pretoria on Saturday morning headed for Dora Nginza Hospital in Port Elizabeth. The hospital is overwhelmed by huge number of Covid-19 cases, and shortage of frontline care workers.

The request to deploy additional the health workers was made by Eastern Cape premier, Oscar Mabuyane to assist the curb of covid19 in the province.  This was made in line with the recommendation of Corona Virus Command Council.

Among the deployees are 35 military nurses, 12 doctors and 5 clinical associates who started work on Monday.

The Eastern Cape is the second most affected province in the country with about 490 deaths. SAMHS spearheads the SANDF’s fight against the spread of Covid-19 alongside the Department of Health.

In a statement on Friday, SANDF said the deployment was in line with President Cyril Ramaphosa’s announcement in parliament on June 27 that 20 000 army health workers would be deployed to fight Covid-19 until September 30.

Ramaphosa first deployed 2 820 soldiers just before enforcing a nationwide lockdown in late March. The number was increased to 76 000 in April as the health threat grew. He said the deployments would cost the government R1.5 billion.

At the end of March, Ramaphosa announced one of the toughest lockdowns anywhere in the world, banning anyone but essential workers from leaving home except to buy food or medicine, and prohibiting alcohol sales, when South Africa had just 400 cases.

The country started slowly reopening parts of the economy from May having gone through a stringent lockdown since March but last month cases started rising.

South Africa has so far recorded 196 750 cases and 3 200 deaths.


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