South Africa’s President Cyril Ramaphosa said Friday that military medical personnel were ready to be deployed to the Western Cape province, the country’s coronavirus epicentre, as the number of nationwide infections surged past 40000.
The president’s announcement comes a day after the hardest-hit sub-Saharan African country recorded 3 267 new COVID-19 cases, its biggest single-day jump during the pandemic.
The Western Cape province, a popular tourist destination, accounts for more than 66% of South Africa’s 40 792 infections and over 70% of its 848 deaths.
The surge in infections sparked fears that the province’s health care system would soon be overwhelmed.
Ramaphosa vowed to bring in military medical practitioners and redeploy civilian healthcare workers from other less affected provinces.
He said the military was “ready to bring in defence military personnel who will be able to come to the province immediately to lend a hand”.
Ramaphosa a lockdown on 27 March aimed at slowing the disease’s spread.
The move sharply limited people’s freedom of movement while slowing an economy already in recession.
But Ramaphosa has gradually eased the lockdown measures and allowed most of the economy to restart.