Health Minister Dr Zweli Mkhize has commended nurses for their efforts in combating the coronavirus epidemic from the frontlines. Mkhize is commemorating International Nurses Day at the King Edward Hospital in Durban.

Across South Africa, the selfless role of nurses is being honoured through symbolic candle lighting ceremonies.

The Minister says he is committed to ensuring that no nurse will be allowed to treat or screen COVID-19 patients without critical equipment.

“We are resolute in ensuring that all health professionals are provided with the appropriate Personal Protective Equipment and they require tools of the trade. As we celebrate our nurses and midwives, I would like to affirm our commitment to ensuring that no nurses will be allowed to care for patients without the appropriate protective equipment; be it at a community level during testing and screening or in the health facility.”

In the video below, Zweli Mkhize speaks at the candlelight ceremony:

Meanwhile, Chief Nursing Officer at the Department of Health, Doctor Nonhlanhla Makhaya, says this is a significant time for healthcare workers around the world.

Nurses in the Free State say they have come to accept the reality of COVID-19.

A nursing sister at Pelonomi Hospital in Bloemfontein, Zanele Mlandu says they used to view the COVID-19 pandemic as a monster, but that has changed after they witnessed the recovery rate.

Mlandu says as nurses, they were encouraged to deal with the disease head-on as they were given daily updates and information about how the disease mutates.

Mlandu says as they observe International Nurses Day they are more encouraged to overcome the disease.

In Mpumalanga, Phola Clinic is one of the many health facilities that often experience long queues of patients, who are in need of medical assistance. Some of the patients who have been waiting for assistance at the facility since this morning say more should be done to appreciate the role of nurses, especially in rural communities.