Dozens of military medics were deployed on Sunday to help combat the coronavirus pandemic in South Africa’s third most affected province.
The deployment to East Cape province comes a day after South Africa recorded more than 10,800 new COVID-19 cases, taking the cumulative infections to 187,977.
Forty-seven defence force medical personnel landed in Eastern Cape city of Port Elizabeth to help shore up the health service, which is buckling under rising number of cases.
“The province is not coping. They have personnel and equipment problems,” defence force spokesman told.
“The situation in the Eastern Cape is really bad with infections increasing and spreading rapidly,” he said, which accounts for more than 18 percent of national infections.
The military teams include doctors, nurses, health technicians and clinical support staff.
The spokesman said the province, ranked the poorest in the country, was the first in the country to request military assistance to help fight the coronavirus.
“When the nation calls us, we have to respond, and respond quickly,” said the military medical services chief, Lieutenant-General Zola Dabula, at a ceremony welcoming the team.
He expressed concern that people were not taking this pandemic “seriously”.
“So our duty as the army medical personnel is not only to treat people, but also to educate them about this virus,” he said.
The province already has some of the more than 200 Cuban medical personnel who arrived in South African last month.
East Cape is one of the country’s hotspot provinces after Gauteng, which houses Johannesburg, the country s largest city, and the capital Pretoria.