South African Govt Deploys Army Personnel To COVID-Hit Gauteng Province
South African government on Friday announced it has begun deploying army medical personnel in the country’s most populous Gauteng province to help health workers battle a surge in coronavirus cases, reported Africa News.
South Africa, which is the worst COVID-19 affected country in Africa, has already entered a third wave of the virus, with new daily cases doubling over the past two weeks. The country’s Gauteng province is the outbreak’s current epicenter, accounting for around 60 percent of the new daily cases.
“We have requested additional capacity to assist Gauteng in terms of military help,” acting Health Minister Mmamoloko Kubayi-Ngubane said at a virtual press briefing on Friday.
The South African health minister said the deployment will begin from Friday. The military personnel will provide support for health workers and help with community testing and contact tracing.
The number of daily coronavirus cases jumped by 13,246 on Wednesday, the highest recorded in the past five months. Hospital admissions have also increased by nearly 60 percent over the past two weeks.
South Africa has recorded over 1.7 million cases so far, of which at least 58,325 have been fatal.
Earlier this week, South African President Cyril Ramaphosa slightly tightened restrictions on public gatherings and the sale of alcohol to stop the spread of infection and ease pressure on hospitals. The third wave of coronavirus has struck as South Africa is struggling to implement its vaccination programme. Only around two million single shots have been administered since February. The government has set a target to fully vaccinate over 40 million people by the end of 2022.
The vaccination programme has so far only been open to the country’s health workers and elderly people over-60s, although police and military staff and teachers are set to receive their first jabs at the end of this month.