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COVID-19: SA can’t afford to have another Westen Cape, says Phaahla

Health Deputy Minister Joe Phaahla warned that if another province follows the province's trends, the country would be in deep trouble.

FILE: Health Deputy Minister Joe Phaahla recommended that the Free State, which has a low infection rate, help other provinces to flatten the curve. Picture: Twitter

JOHANNESBURG –Deputy Health Minister Joe Phaahla said the country could not afford to have another province with a major COVID-19 outbreak similar to the Western Cape.

The province accounted for at least more than 60% of the country's over 40,000 COVID-19 patients.

It had also seen a massive spike in its death toll in recent days, with more than 76% of those who died in the country coming from the Western Cape.

The province has been overwhelmed by its high number of infections for the past few weeks.

Phaahla warned that if another province follows the province's trends, the country would be in deep trouble.

“We won’t manage. Already in terms of handling that situation, the Western Cape is looking for billions from national – billions which we don’t have”

The deputy minister recommended that the Free State, which has a low infection rate, help other provinces to flatten the curve.

The Free State was flagged as a concern to health experts in March when a number of people were infected at a single church gathering right before the lockdown.

That province accounted for less than 1% of the country's total number of infections so far.

Meanwhile, Gauteng Health MEC joined Minister Zweli Nkhize and Phaahla at the Chris Hani Baragwanath Hospital in Soweto on Saturday, where they received 50 ventilators donated by the US government.

Masuku said the donation would be handy to the department, and they would hold the US government to its commitment that this will not be the last batch of supplies.

“We all about partnership, solidarity, and alliances. This donation comes within that space that our stakeholders will play a role in creating a system that is patient-centered that we want to build.”

Baragwanath Hospital has prepared over 200 beds for COVID-19 patients – and was just one of the facilities across the country which would receive ventilators.

This was echoed by the US ambassador to South Africa, who said the donation of ventilators will strengthen relations between the two countries.

“As we work to be able to distribute these ventilators, as well as the ones that will follow, to the medical facilities that need them most, let us be reminded in this moment to fight this pandemic together and let these ventilators be a reminder of the deep friendship between our two great countries.”

Ambassador lana Marks said it was important for South Africa and the US to work together during the pandemic.

On Friday night the health ministry said 60 more people had died from COVID -19 bringing the toll to 908 fatalities.

The department said 43 434 people had contracted the virus, and 23,088 people had recovered – a recovery rate of 53.2%.

The Western Cape had 28,807 infections so far with 704 deaths.

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