Acting health minister Mammoloko Kubayi-Ngubane says that the government will deploy members of the South African National Defence Force (SANDF) to provide support as the country grapples with a fresh wave of Covid-19 cases.
In a media briefing on Friday (18 June), Kubayi-Ngubane said that deployment of SANDF members will specifically target Gauteng which has seen a surge in cases in recent weeks, and now faces capacity issues at health facilities.
Kubayi-Ngubane said that the SANDF members will be tasked with assisting the health sector and vaccinations. She added that the additional manpower should help ease the burden of healthcare workers.
“What we have decided after meeting with the president and the ministry of defence is that the military has been deployed to the province. What this will do is to assist with the capacity of the beds, they will help us with beds and human capacity,” she said.
Kubayi-Ngubane said that Gauteng remains a serious concern for the government, with the province reporting more than 10,000 new Covid-19 cases in the last few days alone.
She added that her department met with provincial health authorities to discuss ways to curb infections in the province, but that the ‘numbers are still not coming down’.
Kubayi-Ngubane confirmed that South Africa has now vaccinated over two million people with at least one shot of a Covid-19 vaccine, with the government planning to ramp up efforts in the coming weeks.
She said that 300,000 Johnson & Johnson vaccines arrived in the country on Thursday, with these vaccines planned for use in the education sector. The National Control Laboratory will ensure that these vaccines are released next week, she said.
Kubayi-Ngubane has said that the government is targeting the vaccination of 500,000 teachers and other education workers within 10 days.
The minister said that South Africa is also set to receive an additional two million doses of the Pfizer vaccine soon, with members of the security cluster – including police and soldiers – next in line to be vaccinated.