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Ramaphosa apologises for government 'failing' healthcare workers amid COVID-19

Ramaphosa called 2020 a year from hell and paid tribute to the armies healthcare professionals who've been working with little rest since COVID-19 first arrived.

President Cyril Ramaphosa attended a new year's eve candle lighting ceremony in Khayelitsha on Thursday, 31 December 2020. Picture: Presidency SA.

CAPE TOWN - President Cyril Ramaphosa has acknowledged there were times in 2020 when government failed health care workers.

Ramaphosa was speaking at a new year's eve candle lighting ceremony in Khayelitsha on Thursday.

He called 2020 a year from hell and paid tribute to the armies healthcare professionals who've been working with little rest since COVID-19 first arrived.

"At times we failed you. We didn't give you the PPEs that you required on time. We didn't give you the protection that you required on time and we humbly apologise for that. We should have cared for you much more. We should've given you more recognition - and we will, Ramaphosa said.

"You've given us courage to go on. There were moments when my own hope was getting lost."

Health Minister Zweli Mkhize attended a similar even in KwaZulu-Natal, raising concerns about the high infection and death rates among health care workers.

He confirmed 436 health professionals have died as a result of the virus in 2020 and that every time a health care worker catches the virus, the system loses at least 10 days of labour.

The Basic Education Department is another key department worried about the fatality rate among staff, in particular teacher. COVID-19 has claimed the lives of more than 30 educators in just the last few days.

Updated COVID-19 infection numbers reveal 18,000 new confirmed cases in the past 24 hours and more than 430 deaths. The positivity rate is still at around 32,5%.

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