Coronavirus: SANDF medical team arrives in Eastern Cape to help overwhelmed hospitals

  • An undisclosed number of military health workers touched down in Port Elizabeth on Sunday.
  • Eastern Cape hospitals have been struggling to cope with the influx of Covid-19 patients, as staff at some hospitals embark on go-slows.
  • The deployment came days after Premier Oscar Mabuyane admitted hospitals were "overwhelmed" and requested aid.


The SA National Defence Force's (SANDF) Military Health Service has deployed doctors, nurses and operational emergency care practitioners to the Eastern Cape to help the province's overwhelmed public hospitals.

The military medical team was expected to touch down at Port Elizabeth International Airport on Sunday morning.

SA Military Health Service (SAMHS) spokesperson Priscilla Lengoasa told News24 more military workers were expected to be deployed in phases to the province.

She declined to disclose the total number of workers allocated to the Eastern Cape.

Lengoasa said other military healthcare providers had already been deployed to assist the provincial Department of Health with the recent surge in Covid-19 infections in this area.

The medical team was scheduled to depart from the Waterkloof Air Force Base in Pretoria at 07:00 and arrive at Port Elizabeth International Airport at 09:00.

Lengoasa said this medical team would be deployed at Dora Nginza Provincial Hospital in Port Elizabeth.

Province's hospitals 'overwhelmed'

"SAMHS spearheads the SANDF fight against the coronavirus epidemic alongside the Department of Health, and heeded the call of the president, since the official announcement of lockdown countrywide on 27 March 2020," said Lengoasa in a statement.

The announcement by the defence force came days after News24 reported that Eastern Cape Premier Oscar Mabuyane admitted the province's hospitals were "overwhelmed" in the fight against Covid-19, and revealed that he had asked national government for the support of the SANDF medical team.

The Eastern Cape's hospitals have been struggling to cope with the influx of patients, as staff at some hospitals embark on go-slows over various grievances around their work environment.

The Eastern Cape has the third highest number of confirmed cases of coronavirus in the country, standing at 34 161.

There are 490 deaths, and 18 980 people have recovered from the virus in the rural province.

The Nelson Mandela Bay Metro, where the military medical team will be deployed, is considered one of the leading hotspots of the virus in the country.

Mabuyane's admission about the crisis at the province's hospitals comes amid growing outcries from nurses and doctors about being overwhelmed by a high number of patients at hospitals and a lack of resources.

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