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Ramaphosa reaches out to Putin for technical expertise on infection control

In an effort to encourage social distancing, the president on Saturday convened a virtual meeting of the co-ordinating council from his home.

FILE: Russian President Vladimir Putin greets President Cyril Ramaphosa during the official welcoming ceremony for the heads of state and government of states participating in the 2019 Russia-Africa Summit in Sochi on 23 October 2019. Picture: AFP.

JOHANNESBURG - President Cyril Ramaphosa on Saturday reached out to Russian President Vladimir Putin to ask for technical expertise on infection control as South Africa intensified its fight against the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.

Mass screenings were being rolled out across the country with the Department of Health in Gauteng appealing for donations of personal protective equipment and ventilators for frontline workers.

In an effort to encourage social distancing, Ramaphosa earlier on Saturday convened a virtual meeting of the co-ordinating council from his home.

The high-tech conference included Deputy President David Mabuza, Cabinet ministers, and the country’s nine provincial premiers. It was to discuss progress and challenges on the implementation of the national and provincial responses to fight COVID-19, the national lockdown, and the government’s economic recovery plan.

With over 1,500 known coronavirus cases in South Africa, Ramaphosa called for a co-ordinated response between the national government and the provincial structures.

“As we know that at provincial level, you have set-up your own command councils and Minister [Nkosazana] Dlamini-Zuma, the deputy president and myself felt there was a need - as a number of you did – to have this type of meeting,” he said.

The president also announced that the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation offered assistance with innovative mass-based testing kits and research. He said Bill Gates commended “the swift and decisive action South Africa has taken on COVID-19.”

Ramaphosa in his capacity as the current chairperson of the African Union (AU) also convened a second and follow-up teleconference meeting of the AU Bureau of Heads of State and Government on Friday.

The Bureau received presentations from the Director-General of the World Health Organisation (WHO), Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, Dr John Nkengasong, Director of Africa Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), and French President Emmanuel Macron.

For official information about COVID-19 from the Department of Health, please click here.

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