President Cyril Ramaphosa, WC Premier Alan Winde and Health Minister Zweli Mkhize at the launch of the Cape Town International Conference Centre's temporary Covid-19 hospital. Picture/Video: Ayanda Ndamane / African News Agency

Fighting Covid-19: Ramaphosa promises to bolster funding to the Western Cape

By Zintle Mahlati Time of article published Jun 5, 2020

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Johannesburg - President Cyril Ramaphosa says funds will be provided to the Western Cape as the province continues to see a rapid rise in coronavirus cases and related deaths.

Ramaphosa and Health Minister Dr Zweli Mkhize visited the Western Cape on Friday to inspect the province's response to the Covid-19 pandemic.  

The government is concerned about the rising cases in the Western Cape. 

As of Thursday, the province had recorded 27 006 cases and 651 Covid-19 deaths, more than 65% of the countries infections and more than 75% of the countries Covid-19 related deaths. 

Western Cape Premier Alan Winde led a team of health officials who presented the province's strategy in response to the pandemic. The province has also launched a massive temporary health facility at the Cape Town International Convention Centre which will help treat patients.

The province has also ramped up work on focusing on hotspots in the province to decrease the number of cases.

Ramaphosa and Mkkize both said they were pleased with the work being done in the province. Mkhize said the issue of isolation of quarantining patients was critical.

Ramaphosa said he had read Winde's letter which pointed to key issues faced by the province which were hampering the fight against the spread of the virus.

Winde highlighted a shortage of staff who are key to treating patients. He has also noted that the province needs funding of over a billion rand to help bolster its focus on mitigating the spread of the virus.

Ramaphosa said it was important that the response has been focused and ramped up as coronavirus is " war" and should be approached like a marathon.

He said the issue of funding should not be a problem and will be provided. The president had said the government would direct R20 billion towards fight the pandemic.

"We have to find them (staff), the money will not be an issue we have to find them. We cannot be beaten by Covid-19 because we did not have enough staff members.  SANDF is willing to come and lend a hand in the province," he said.

The president said he was also not happy that the province had capped their availability of beds. He said it was better to over provide beds then be caught off guard.

"It is better to over provide than under provide. I would like to see a margin above what you are providing for. KwaZulu Natal had also underprovided the beds available and we said they should provide more beds and they are doing that. We must be ahead of the curve, over provide. If we do find ourselves in situations where we need beds its better to be ready," the president said.

Ramaphosa and Mkhize also spoke about the issue of test kits, the Western Cape had indicated that there was the backlog of 27 000 in testing. The province also announced that it would no longer test people under the age of 55 for the virus, unless if they had pre-existing conditions. 

Ramaphosa said an initiative to provide testing kits was underway which was expected to benefit the whole continent.

Mkhize said the large supply of testing kits had also been delivered on Thursday from Russia.

Ramaphosa praised the Western Cape for its focus on hotspots but said he was concerned by the province's contact-tracing and called for those measures to be ramped up.

"I am pleased with the way you approach the district differentiated strategy. This is what we want to see in all the hotspots. The hotspots strategy is a good one and should be applied in all areas. Flattening the curve is not a one-day event. It is going to stay with us for a long time to come. We have to use all the tools we have in our toolbox."

Political Bureau

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