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WHO flies in 40 medical experts to SA


The first 17 will touch down in South Africa today.

Health workers are being flown into the country by WHO to help bolster the fight against Covid-19. File Picture

MORE than 40 senior medical experts are being sent to South Africa by the World Health Organization (WHO) from across the globe to help bolster the country’s fight against Covid-19.

With 521 318 recorded infections by Wednesday morning, South Africa is among the top five countries with the highest infections in the world and significantly surpasses any other country in Africa.

Providing a situational update on the state of fight against the global pandemic, exactly five months since the first case was recorded on March 5, Health Minister Zweli Mkhize said some of the experts would already be landing in SA on Wednesday.

“The first 17 experts will touch down on South African soil today and will complete a period of quarantine and initiation before being deployed within the department and across various provinces,” Mkhize said.

Mkhize said the 43 experts would include Dr David Heymann, an infectious disease epidemiologist and public health expert.

“I’m also pleased that Dr Mike Ryan will be leading the team from Geneva and will now be focusing on South Africa and providing us with constant advice while analysing our strategies, including the decisions we have taken as the Department of Health in our Covid-19 response,” he said.

He said the arrival of the experts was a great opportunity for South Africa “not only to improve our health strategies during this pandemic but also to accelerate our path towards health care reform”.

During the briefing, Mkhize revealed that most parts of the country, including Gauteng, the Western Cape and the Eastern Cape, which have so far recorded most of SA’s infections, had probably reached their peak. However, KwaZulu-Natal and other provinces had not.

He said this was indicated by a consistent decline in the rate of infections. This was important to maintain to avoid a second surge of transmissions.