WATCH: Ramaphosa praises 'unsung heroes' at CSIR for helping SA stay ahead of Covid-19 curve

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President Cyril Ramaphosa has praised the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR), saying work being done there is assisting the country to stay ahead of the Covid-19 curve.

On Thursday, Ramaphosa visited the CSIR's offices in Pretoria which is also where the Department of Health's data centre has been set up.

This is where the virus, which has killed 18 South Africans and infected 1 845 others, is being tracked throughout the country.

"As a nation, we should be proud that we have an institution like the CSIR which is always trying to be ahead of the curve in terms of bringing solutions for the nation to utilise," he said.

Ramaphosa, who was shown how real-time analysis of the virus is done, described the scientists as "unsung heroes", adding he had heard many were working 16 to 18 hour per day to capture data to assist in tracking the deadly outbreak.

"I have been hugely impressed to see how we are able through the facility that we have here to look at the entire country to see how we can get data and information about the incidents of infection of the country.

"But more importantly is how we are able, using science and technology, to drill it down to almost provincial, district, municipality, ward level, street level, to know as they track the people who are infected."

He said the government's intention to deploy 10 000 volunteers had been boosted and would be doubled as mobile service provider Vodacom had donated 20 000 cellphones which have an app that allows them to feed information directly to the centre and be captured as they screen members of the public for the virus.

Ramaphosa added the system would be able to monitor hospital beds as well as B&Bs and hotels which could be used for isolation and quarantine centres.

Vodacom CEO Shameel Joosub said the service provider had stepped up when it received a call to do so from the government.

He added the cellphones had 500 minutes and five gigs of data which would allow health workers to send information back to the CSIR in real time.

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