Cuban doctors join Nelson Mandela Bay battle against Covid-19

Five of the six Cuban health practitioners who have been deployed to Nelson Mandela Bay to assist in the fight against the spread of the coronavirus are, from left, Idalberto Rivero, Adiarys Gonzalez, Dr Yoanna Galzagorry, Dr Dayamely Acosta and Dr Zoila Nelson. The group was welcomed by senior provincial and Bay officials at a briefing session at Livingstone Hospital on Monday
INTO THE FRAY: Five of the six Cuban health practitioners who have been deployed to Nelson Mandela Bay to assist in the fight against the spread of the coronavirus are, from left, Idalberto Rivero, Adiarys Gonzalez, Dr Yoanna Galzagorry, Dr Dayamely Acosta and Dr Zoila Nelson. The group was welcomed by senior provincial and Bay officials at a briefing session at Livingstone Hospital on Monday
Image: WERNER HILLS

Six Cuban doctors have been deployed to Nelson Mandela Bay after President Cyril Ramaphosa declared the metro one of three Covid-19 hotspots in the Eastern Cape.

The team was welcomed at Livingstone Hospital on Monday by health deputy director-general Litha Matiwane.

Matiwane said the visiting doctors would provide support to hospitals in the metro that were at the forefront of efforts to curb the spread of the novel coronavirus.

“Two of them are family physicians and they are going to be deployed within the subdistricts and are going to assist with screening and testing.

“Two of them are bio-statisticians, one a biomedical engineer and one is an epidemiologist.

“The bio-statisticians and the epidemiologist will help us in collating and interpreting the information.

“The other one is a health technologist (biomedical engineer) and is going to assist us with heath technology such as ventilators,” Matiwane said.

In his address to the nation on Sunday night in which he announced that SA would move from lockdown level 4 to  level 3 on June 1, Ramaphosa declared a number of  hotspots where efforts to counter the spread of the virus would be intensified.

The president said Nelson Mandela Bay, Buffalo City and Chris Hani District  municipality were hotspots in the Eastern Cape.

By Sunday, there were 953 Covid-19 cases in the Bay, 21 deaths and 544 recoveries, according to the department of health. In total, there were 2,689 infections in the Eastern Cape, 59 deaths and 1,335 recoveries.

On Monday, Bay health district manager Darlene de Vos was also on hand to welcome the Cuban doctors, alongside acting mayor Thsonono Buyeye, public health political head Yolisa Pali and ANC MPL Tony Duba.

Introducing the visiting experts, De Vos said a support team from the national health department had also been deployed to the metro.

“Our first two team members have arrived although one is deployed to the Sarah Baartman region,” De Vos said.

In total, a brigade of 20 Cuban doctors  have been deployed to the Eastern Cape, comprising 10 general practitioners, two epidemiologists, four biomedical engineers and four bio-statisticians, also known as information management specialists.

Before being deployed in the metro, the Bay team went through a weeklong induction with the provincial department of health.

In his welcome address, Buyeye said SA had been a beneficiary of Cuban medical intervention since 1996.

He said because the metro was the province’s economic hub, it had a big responsibility to turn the tide against Covid-19.

“I believe about 100 students a year are trained in Cuba. Our relationship with Cuba has stood the test of time and is built of comradeship.

“We’ve fought an unjust and deadly system that was apartheid but today we fight an invisible enemy. We go to the trenches with you to reclaim our right to live.

“The enemy we fight does not discriminate on gender, race or social standing.

“Covid-19 is our enemy and it must be defeated if we are to prosper as citizens and nations.”

Buyeye said pandemics such as Covid-19 could not be isolated and confined to specific cities and countries as a result of globalisation.

Bhisho legislature deputy chair of chairs Duba said  officials did not expect the Cuban contingent to perform miracles but rather that they share their expertise with their SA counterparts.

“We are here to urge you to continue contributing to medical systems, not only here in the metro but the Eastern Cape.

“We know you’re not going to perform miracles but we’ll ensure we do the basics right and arm our medical staff with skills to better fight this pandemic.

Your presence [comes]  at a time of distress but it’s at times like these one sees who their allies are,” Duba said.

 

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