Covid-19 lockdown: Western Cape welcomes assistance of Cuban specialists
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Cape Town - The Western Cape Government said it was looking forward to working with a team of Cuban doctors and specialists who landed at Waterkloof Air Base in Pretoria on Monday, emerging from their chartered SAA A340 Airbus holding a Cuban flag and wearing masks.
The medics were welcomed by International Relations Minister Naledi Pandor.
Premier Alan Winde also welcomed the arrival of the Cuban specialists and said he was looking forward to working with them once they had completed their quarantine period.
Winde said the Western Cape had put out a call for volunteers and “welcomes offers of assistance from all over the world as we fight this global pandemic.”
The 217 Cuban health specialists and workers include experts in the fields of epidemiology, biostatistics, and public health, as well as family physicians to guide interventions through door-to-door testing and assist local health workers in health promotion and disease surveillance at the community level.
The group also consisted of healthcare technology engineers to assist in maintaining the inventory, deployment and repair of aged medical equipment and experts to provide technical assistance working with local experts.
Their arrival followed a request by President Cyril Ramaphosa to President Díaz Canel Bermúdez of Cuba.
Ramaphosa said the deployment of Cuban doctors, engineers and technical experts in all the provinces of South Africa was a demonstration of strategic partnership and solidarity between South Africa and Cuba, and a good example of South-South co-operation.
The Cuban medical team have been sent straight into quarantine at a Pretoria hotel, in line with the standard protocol set for those travelling into the country during the Covid-19 crisis, the Department of Health said. Department spokesperson Dr Lwazi Manzi said the Cuban medical brigade, who had been quarantined in Cuba before travelling to South Africa, would be sent into quarantine at a Pretoria hotel for a period that could last up to 14 days.
* Additional reporting by Samkelo Mtshali.