Government has employed the help of the South African National Defence Force to fight the spread of COVID-19 in Gauteng, as the number of COVID-19 cases continues to peak.
“After a conversation with the President and the Minister of Defence and Military Veterans, we’ve requested additional capacity to assist Gauteng,” said Acting Health Minister, Mmamoloko Kubayi-Ngubane, on Friday.
Kubayi-Ngubane was updating media on the latest developments concerning the COVID-19 pandemic and the country’s vaccination rollout plan.
On Thursday, Gauteng recorded 7 502 new COVID-19 cases out of the 11 767 that were detected.
The Minister said government is concerned about the province, which is currently the country’s epicentre.
In the meantime, the Minister said military personnel will also be involved in mass community testing, screening and contact tracing, and lending a hand at hospitals.
She announced that the military health service will deployed in Gauteng from today.
“This will ensure that we can ease the burden of the healthcare workers in the province, where they are seriously under pressure,” said Kubayi-Ngubane.
In addition, she said the closure of Charlotte Maxeke Johannesburg Academic Hospital continues to put undue pressure on the already strained healthcare system.
However, the department is working around the clock to bring the hospital into full functionality after the fire that gutted the facility in April.
The department has since issued a circular requesting that non-critical and non-urgent surgeries be postponed to pay attention to COVID-19 patients, while the province has managed to increase bed capacity to 4 000 from 3 000.
The Minister said South Africa has since surpassed the two million mark in terms of the number of people who have been vaccinated.
“The higher the number of the people we’re able to vaccinate, the better we will manage the pandemic.”
She has since called on people to not lower their guard but adhere to strict non-pharmaceutical protocols.