Pretoria – President Cyril Ramaphosa on Wednesday said South Africa now has nearly 25 000 additional beds available for quarantine as confirmed cases in the country continue to rise.
“We have been able to source and produce substantial quantities of personal protective equipment for health workers, vital medical equipment and other supplies.
“Using the valuable time which the lockdown gave us, we have managed to significantly expand our screening and testing programme,” Ramaphosa said in a televised national address.
“In all, our field workers have now screened over 9 million people, and we have conducted nearly 370,000 coronavirus tests. This is the largest and most extensive public health mobilisation in the history of our country.
Ramaphosa said this massive intervention in South Africa has been made possible by the hard work and dedication of thousands of community workers, nurses, doctors and other health workers.
“They made enormous sacrifices to ensure the success of the lockdown. By answering the call to stay at home and stay safe, you, the people of South Africa, have helped us to save many lives.
“As we have strengthened our public health response, we have introduced several vital measures to support the companies, workers and households that have been severely affected by the lockdown,” Ramaphosa said.
“We have introduced an economic and social relief package worth over R500 billion to help companies in distress, to save jobs and to provide some income to informal workers and poor households.”
Ramaphosa said since it was established, the special Covid-19 relief scheme of the Unemployment Insurance Fund (UIF) has paid out more than R11 billion to 2 million employees employed by over 160,000 companies in distress.
“This will help to keep companies afloat and save millions of jobs. The various funds that we established to provide support for small businesses, including the initiatives of the department of small business development, the department of tourism, the Industrial Development Corporation and the South African Future Trust, have provided direct assistance to over 27,000 enterprises,” he said.
“As of today, the R200 billion Covid-19 Loan Guarantee Scheme, which is guaranteed by the government, has begun to process applications from small and medium-sized businesses.
“At the beginning of this month, government paid out an additional R5 billion to social grant recipients to assist poor households at a time when other sources of income have been disrupted.”
The president said the government has opened applications for the special Covid-19 grant of R350 a month for unemployed South Africans who receive no other form of assistance from government.
By the close of business on Wednesday, Ramaphosa said some 3 million South Africans had already applied for this assistance.
These temporary measures will be in place for six months, he said.
African News Agency/ANA
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** If you think you have been exposed to the Covid-19 virus, please call the government’s 24-hour hotline on 0800 029 999 or go to SA Coronavirus for more information.
By Jonisayi Maromo