Health Minister Dr. Zweli Mkhize has announced that a rescue team of 43 WHO pandemic experts will arrive in South Africa. Coronavirus infection rates in the country have reached over half a million with deaths almost at 10 000. The announcement comes in the wake of ongoing investigations of a PPE corruption scandal that implicates government officials. Health workers are at a higher risk of contracting the virus due to shortage of crucial PPE that is used to prevent the transmission from patients.
The first batch of 17 experts will land in South Africa by Wednesday and will complete a 14-day period of quarantine and initiation before being deployed within the department across various provinces. Renowned specialists Dr David Heymann (a seasoned infectious disease epidemiologist and public health expert) and Dr Mike Ryan will lead infection mitigation efforts by the international body.
This is the latest government effort in curbing high infection rates and a possible second surge of coronavirus infections which has hit health workers most invariably with 24 000 infected and 181 dead according to South Africa’s Department of Health. Gauteng, Western Cape and KwaZulu-Natal were coronavirus hotspots but a decline has been recorded in the first two provinces whereas in KwaZulu-Natal infection rates continue to rise.
Mkhize has been calmly steering public health responses since initial cases of coronavirus were recorded. He has stated that South Africa has passed public health experts’ predicted peak, but with the country experiencing the last month of winter, he has urged the public to continue practicing social distancing.