The Eastern Cape province has asked national government to assist its overwhelmed health services with South African National Defence Force (SANDF) medical teams. The National Treasury has also poured close to R8 billion into the province’s coffers for its healthcare systems.

The interventions come at a time when the provincial public health system is near collapse. The provincial government made these announcements during an update of its COVID-19 action plan.

Eastern Cape Premier Oscar Mabuyane painted a gloomy picture. The province has registered 397 deaths and more than 26 000 infections with 12 000 recoveries. Beefing up capacity is critical and Mabuyane says this will go a long way in the fight against the coronavirus.

SA’s latest COVID-19 stats below:

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“I have made the request to the national government to deploy the medical team of the SA National Defence Force to further reinforce our efforts to confront the COVID-19 head-on. As of yesterday the 29th of June our province tested over 157 000 people for COVID-19,” says the Premier.

With more learners expected back at schools next week, the provincial Education Department is concerned about the high infection rates in schools. Education MEC Fundile Gade says they have engaged the national department with the view to halt the process.

“Our observation is that we are managing more infections now, not managing teaching and learning, which then compromises the character of the sector and as well compromises the constitutional mandate of the sector, in essence, we are not focusing anywhere because of the high levels of infections in the province.”

The province is in the process of recruiting new doctors and nurses. This is aimed at supplementing the province’s newly-recruited 7 000 health workers.

Gender-based violence also remains a concern for the provincial government. Mabuyane says a combined effort is necessary to fight the scourge.

“We should join hands in the fight against gender-based violence and femicide. As a government, we will continue to improve our response to gender-based violence by ensuring that perpetrators are brought to book whilst taking good care of survivors. All of us must protect our girl children, sisters, aunts and mothers by reporting any form of abuse to law enforcement.”