US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo smiles during a news conference at the State Department, in Washington. Picture: Andrew Harnik/Pool via Reuters
US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo smiles during a news conference at the State Department, in Washington. Picture: Andrew Harnik/Pool via Reuters

US criticises South Africa’s use of Cuban doctors in fight against Covid-19

By Chad Anthony Williams Time of article published Apr 30, 2020

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Cape Town - The US government has criticised South Africa for accepting the assistance of Cuban doctors to fight Covid-19 in the country, accusing Cuba of profiting from human trafficking. 

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo told reporters at a briefing in Washington, DC, on Wednesday that the US had noticed how the regime in Havana was taking advantage of the coronavirus pandemic to continue its exploitation of Cuban medical workers.

He added medical workers needed to be protected now more than ever.

“Governments accepting Cuban doctors must pay them directly, otherwise when they pay the regime, they are helping the Cuban government turn a profit on human trafficking,” said Pompeo.

He added that the US applauds leaders of other countries that have refused to "turn a blind eye to these abuses by the Cuban regime".

Meanwhile, Health Minister Zweli Mkhize has defended the plan to deploy 200 Cuban doctors to help with Covid-19 cases, saying South Africa owes a huge debt to Cuba for continuous health-care support, reported African News Agency.

Mkhize said those coming in would not take jobs away from South African doctors, and the country was lucky to have them as Cuba had already committed many doctors to other countries, including Italy.

Mkhize said the Cuban doctors would be deployed to provinces once they emerged from a precautionary quarantine period.

South Africa reaches the end of 35 days of lockdown on Thursday and will enter into level 4 of the national state of disaster as of Friday, May 1, which will see the easing of some lockdown regulations that were in place at level 5.

The South African government has said it will ease lockdown regulations in a phased manner while monitoring the number of new Covid-19 infections in the country.

African News Agency (ANA)

* For the latest on the Covid-19 outbreak, visit IOL's special #Coronavirus page.

** If you think you have been exposed to the Covid-19 virus, please call the 24-hour hotline on 0800 029 999 or visit sacoronavirus.co.za 

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