SA dispatches army medics to Covid-hit province

The government of South Africa announced Friday that army medical soldiers will be deployed to the country’s commercial hub and most populous province to assist health workers in combating a coronavirus outbreak. 

South Africa has entered a third Covid wave, with daily instances more than doubling in the last two weeks. 

Gauteng province, which includes the administrative capital of Pretoria and the financial powerhouse of Johannesburg, is the current epicenter of the outbreak, accounting for almost 60% of the latest daily increase.

“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.

She stated that the deployment will begin today. The military will assist health workers by providing support and assisting with community testing and contact tracing. 

On Wednesday, daily infections increased by 13,246 percent, the largest level in five months. Over the last two weeks, hospital admissions have climbed by over 60%. 

Over 1.7 million cases have been reported in the country so far, with at least 58,325 deaths. 

President Cyril Ramaphosa imposed restrictions this week to combat the spread of diseases and relieve congestion on hospitals.

The third wave of infection has hit as South Africa struggles to implement its immunization program. 

Since February, only about two million single injections have been given out. By the end of 2022, the government has set a goal of fully vaccinating over 40 million people. 

Bunnaj Africa learnt that only health workers and people over the age of 60 have been vaccinated so far, but teachers, police officers, and military personnel will be the first to be vaccinated later this month. 

At the onset of South Africa’s coronavirus outbreak last year, more than 70,000 military troops were sent to help enforce severe lockdown measures. 

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