“We regrettably report another COVID-19 related death in the Western Cape, which increases the total number of deaths to 87.
"We convey condolences to the family and appreciate our frontline workers who treated this patient,” the Minister of Health, Dr Zwelini Mkhize, said on Sunday.
The total number of tests conducted to date is 168 643, of which 7 639 were done in the last 24 hours.
The provincial breakdown of the cases is as follows: Gauteng has 1 331; Western Cape 1 608; KwaZulu-Natal 863; Eastern Cape 535; Free State 110; Limpopo 31; North West 28; Mpumalanga 23 and Northern Cape 17.
South Africa is expecting a delegation of 217 Cuban Medical Brigade to arrive in the country on Monday, 27 April.
“This is in response to the Government of the Republic of South Africa’s request to the Government of Cuba to offer us assistance and medical personnel support, comprising infectious diseases specialists, to support South Africa in its efforts to deal with COVID-19,” the Minister said.
He said the strong social support and political solidarity that exists between Cuba and South Africa has been seen in various development programmes.
“As the Department of Health, we have continuously enjoyed this support through the ongoing medical training programme of South African students in Cuba.
“As Cuba did in the difficult times of apartheid, it has once again lent its hand by sending health workers, who are specialised in the areas of Family Medicine, Infection Prevention Control, Case Management, Regulatory Authority, Epidemiology and Surveillance, Health Technology and Biostatistics,” Mkhize said.
Cuba is known for its disaster preparedness and its consistent deployment of medical brigades for disaster relief wherever required, which continues to earn Havana goodwill worldwide.
Some of these highly skilled health professionals were in the frontline of fighting other outbreaks in the world such as cholera in Haiti in 2010, and Ebola in West Africa in 2013.
“Before departure from Cuba, the medical brigade had been placed in quarantine to ensure that they minimise any form of exposure prior to coming to South Africa. This is despite the fact that Cuba is one of the countries where the reported COVID-19 infection rate remains minimal,” the Mkhizd said.
South has taken an additional step to place the medical team on precautionary quarantine, in line with the country’s lockdown regulations.
“This team will be put in precautionary quarantine as they await their test results. We will also use this period to fully induct them into the South African situational analysis and the various provinces they will be deployed to.
“Once this process is concluded, President Cyril Ramaphosa, together with other Ministers, will formally welcome the medical brigade to South Africa and also confirm their allocation to different provinces,” the Minister said.
Mkhize has expressed appreciation to the Ambassador of Cuba, R B Version and his team in South Africa, who have greatly assisted in the coordination of this mission.
“We have no doubt our public health facilities will benefit from this generous and selfless gesture by our Cuban brethren,” he said.