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As Covid-19 overwhelms the Eastern Cape's hospitals, Premier, Oscar Mabuyane, has requested assistance from the South African National Defence Force (SANDF) medical team.

With news of staff at hospitals in the Eastern Cape participating in a go-slow, the impending influx of Covid-19 patients has the province worried. Hospital workers want to shine a light on their grievances regarding their working environments, with doctors and nurses already overwhelmed by the high number of patients and struggling with a lack of resources.

According to the Health Department superintendent, Dr Thobile Mbengashe, Covid-19 infections will peak in July, August and September. The province needs 10,000 hospital beds and 3,000 ICU beds to cope with the influx of patients.

In light of this, Eastern Cape Premier, Oscar Mabuyane, has requested the national government to grant support from the SANDF medical team. He said that the province is building a 500-bed field hospital to support his two metros and six districts to ensure that they "are prepared for the surge of patients with Covid-19 infections".

Speaking during a coronavirus command council press briefing on Tuesday, Mabuyane "This will give us a combined total of 4 000 medical beds throughout the province. These are not normal beds. These are medical beds with all required medical resources and high care medical equipment to save lives. We have recruited an additional 1 000 nurses and over 5 000 community health workers.

"It is clear to us that the virus is now at a stage where it is not only infecting us, but it is also affecting us. Thus, every citizen must contribute to efforts that are meant to fight against the spread of this virus. Our first line of defence against this virus remains washing our hands with water and soap, sanitising regularly, wearing our masks correctly all the time when we leave our homes and by keeping to the social distancing when in public spaces."

In the Eastern Cape currently, there are 27 686 confirmed cases, 422 deaths and 14 081 recoveries from Covid-19. Nelson Mandela Bay Metro, incorporating Port Elizabeth, Uitenhage and Motherwell, has 7 827 confirmed cases and 136 deaths, the OR Tambo District has 4 772 infections with 92 deaths, while the Buffalo City Metro has 6 767 infections and 80 deaths.

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