President Cyril Ramaphosa has hailed South Africa’s healthcare workers and described them as “the true heroes” of the country’s response to COVID-19.
In his weekly newsletter on Monday, Ramaphosa said it is a “devastating blow” that healthcare workers are themselves contracting the virus and even losing their lives.
The President said, “They are on the frontline of fighting this pandemic. They are working under great pressure and must carry the psychological strain of knowing they are at risk of contracting the virus. They are the true heroes and heroines of our battle against coronavirus.
“We salute these brave South Africans who leave their homes, families and loved ones to report without fail for duty every day in clinics, hospitals and other health facilities. There they provide medical care, administrative support and other services like cleaning and catering.”
Ramaphosa reiterated the government’s commitment to supporting these workers through provision of personal protective equipment (PPE).
Ministers and Deputy Ministers are are also being deployed to districts countrywide “to get a line of sight of specific challenges in these districts and to work with provincial health authorities.”
Ramaphosa also expressed concern about stigmatisation of people who have tested positive for the virus, adding that this is driven mainly by “lack of understanding.”
He said, “There have been disturbing reports of individuals being ostracised from their communities and of communities protesting against coronavirus patients being admitted to local hospitals and clinics. This must stop.
“Just as we came together to promote acceptance of people living with HIV and stood firm against victimisation, we must show understanding, tolerance, kindness, empathy and compassion for those who are infected with this virus and for their families.”
COVID-19 cases have surged across South Africa in recent weeks, reaching 138,134 on Sunday, according to an update by Health Minister Dr Zweli Mkhize. A total of 2,456 people had also lost their lives as of Sunday.
Mkhize said cases will increase further “during the latter winter months of July and August” as South Africa approaches its peak of infections.
“It is anticipated that while every province will unfortunately witness an increase in their numbers, areas where there is high economic activity will experience an exponential rise – beginning with Gauteng and Western Cape and followed by Eastern Cape and KwaZulu-Natal,” he said.