JOHANNESBURG – A team of 217 Cuban doctors and health workers arrived in South Africa on Monday to help with the coronavirus outbreak.
The country has had the most COVID-19 cases in Africa with more than 4,500 confirmed infections.
Specialists traveled from Cuba on a South Africa Airways flight that landed after midnight at the Air Force Base Waterkloof in Pretoria, where they were received by the foreign minister Naledi Pandor and defense minister Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula and other authorities.
The doctors will undergo a 14-day quarantine before they are deployed across the country on buses so they can begin their work.
A number of countries in Africa have been affected by the outbreak, with more than 4,500 infections in Egypt and 4,000 in Morocco.
South Africa has reported the most cases but is also the country that has carried out the most tests to detect infections, with almost 170,000 tests carried out in centers and mobile clinics.
It has also registered 87 deaths and almost 1,500 people have recovered from the disease.
The Cuban contingent, which includes mainly primary care professionals, but also epidemiologists, biostatistics and biotechnology specialists and medical engineers, was sent in response to requests from the South African government.
South African health minister Zwelini Mkhize said on Sunday that there is a “strong social and political solidarity” between the two countries and praised the preparation of the Caribbean country and its foreign medical mission.
Mkhize thanked Cuba for helping again and highlighted that it had also done so during apartheid.
“These times require cooperation and solidarity. If we act together, we will stop the spread of the virus in a faster and more effective way,” the Cuban embassy in Pretoria said in a statement.
The South African health minister has cited Cuba’s community health work model, which ensures every community has coverage, in recent weeks.
South Africa has based some of its initiatives to deploy mobile clinics throughout the country on Cuba’s model in a bid to guarantee that every health center has enough resources to face the pandemic.
COVID-19 has infected almost three million people worldwide and more than 200,000 deaths since it emerged China in December.