President Cyril Ramaphosa has paid tribute to the health care workers who have died in the line of work caring for COVID-19 patients.
The president said his government was working around the clock to ensure that health workers were provided with personal protection equipment (PPEs) where there were shortages.
Ramaphosa also used his weekly letter to call on South Africans to stop stigmatising those who test positive for the novel coronavirus which is a global pandemic.
“We know that access to PPE is not the only challenge our health care workers face. Across the country clinics and hospitals are facing staff shortages. This problem is being attended to” he said.
“We salute these brave South Africans who leave their homes, families and loved ones to report without fail for duty every day in clinics, hospitals and other health facilities. There they provide medical care, administrative support and other services like cleaning and catering,” he added.
Ramaphosa said it was a devastating blow that the men and women who are on the forefront of fighting the disease were themselves falling ill.
He said he was deploying ministers and deputy ministers in each of the country’s districts to establish the challenges they are facing with regards to fighting the virus and also to work with provincial health authorities.
The numbers of people who are infected with and die from coronavirus was going to continue to rise as the country moves to its peak, Ramaphosa said, adding that scientists had told them that the rate at which the virus was travelling would certainly come down.
Ramaphosa said there have been disturbing reports of people who have tested positive for the virus being ostracised and communities protesting patients being admitted at local hospitals.
“Just as we came together to promote acceptance of people living with HIV and stood firm against victimisation, we must show understanding, tolerance, kindness, empathy and compassion for those who are infected with this virus and for their families,” he said.
Ramaphosa’s statement came as the number of those infected with COVID-19 rose to 138 134, with total deaths related to the virus sitting at 2456.