South African National Defence Force (SANDF) doctors, nurses and operational emergency care practitioners have arrived in the Eastern Cape to help the province’s overwhelmed public hospitals.

The military medical team flew to the province yesterday.

This came as positive cases across South Africa rose by 8 773 to a cumulative total of 196 750 (with 93 315 recoveries).

Deaths rose by 173, bringing the toll to 3 199. Most of the latest deaths were in Gauteng (71), followed by the Western Cape (40), the Eastern Cape (29), KwaZulu-Natal (21), Free State (10) and Northern Cape (2).

The Eastern Cape has 35 648 cumulative cases, or 18.1% of the national total, and 19 490 recoveries. There have been 519 deaths.

Recoveries remain lower in Gauteng (16 887 out of 63 404 cumulative cases, or 32.2% of the national total) compared with the Western Cape (49 928 out of 69 531 cumulative cases, or 35.3% of the national total).

The Western Cape has recorded 2 066 deaths, and Gauteng 353.

News24 reported that SA Military Health Service (SAMHS) spokesperson Priscilla Lengoasa said more military staff were expected to be deployed to the Eastern Cape in phases.

News reports last week highlighted mounting concerns in the Eastern Cape about understaffed healthcare facilities being overwhelmed, with medical personnel coming under increasing strain.

Yesterday, Minister of Basic Education Angie Motshekga announced that Grades 6 and 11 would return to school today as part of the phased reopening of schools. Only schools that were ready would be permitted to take in Grade R children.

The department’s director-general, Mathanzima Mweli, said education officials expected 2 592 755 pupils to be back in the classroom by the end of July.

In other virus-related news

  • AFP reported that Spain’s northwestern Galicia region yesterday ordered the lockdown of 70 000 people amid fears of a fresh outbreak. All residents of the town of La Marina would have to remain in the vicinity of the town, and gatherings of more than 10 were banned. Spaniards endured one of the world’s toughest lockdowns for three months from March, with the country suffering one of Europe’s worst coronavirus death tolls – at least 28 385 – and more than 250 000 cases;
  • India recorded a record number of cases yesterday. The world’s fourth worst-hit nation reported just under 25 000 cases and 613 deaths in 24 hours, the biggest daily spike since the first case was detected in late January. The surge took India’s total to more than 673 000 cases and 19 268 deaths; and
  • Reuters reported that more 11.29 million people were recorded as having been infected and 529 505 had died.

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