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Govt: SA has no capacity to treat COVID-19 patients from neighbouring countries

Many hospitals are battling to cope under the strain of the second surge in coronavirus infections, which is largely driven by a second variant.

FILE: A hospital worker walks amongst patients in the COVID-19 ward at Khayelitsha Hospital, about 35km from the centre of Cape Town, on 29 December 2020. Picture: AFP.

JOHANNESBURG - Home Affairs Minister Aaron Motsoaledi said South Africa's health system simply doesn't have the capacity to treat people from neighbouring countries for COVID-19.

Many hospitals are battling to cope under the strain of the second surge in coronavirus infections, which is largely driven by a second variant.

South Africa’s virus death toll has now breached the 30,000 mark, with over 430 fatalities recorded over the past 24 hours. The country also picked up another 12,600 infections.

READ: 'We are in trouble': Nehawu urges government to hasten vaccine roll-out.

Motsoaledi said only those who can prove they don't have COVID-19 are being allowed to cross the borders.

“Those who came with no COVID-19 certificates were given a repeat antigen test from the border and when it was found positive, of course, they were sent back. Not because we hate human beings but because we are mentioning that our hospitals are already full, we are already unable to cope. So, we cannot take more people into South Africa who need medical help.”

He said this will be revised as soon as the Health Department gives the green light, when our hospitals are under less pressure.

Meanwhile, Motsoaledi added they have a plan in place to control the border, especially at Beitbridge.

The minister said more than 500 undocumented Zimbabweans are arrested daily for trying to enter the country illegally.

Motsoaledi said this plan has many phases.

“If we did not put up that plan, there would have been to catch all these people. The plan is working at different levels. Firstly, at the border, secondly, at the roadblocks and quite a number of people with fake COVID-19 certificates were caught and returned back.”

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