A TEAM of more than 200 Cuban health workers are set to arrive at the OR Tambo International Airport on Sunday.
The medics left on a plane that first carried a donation of South African medical supplies to the Caribbean island, its embassy in Pretoria said.
The country, which at one point was following the UK’s infection curve, has stunned observers in the way it has slowed the spread of the virus, has now recorded 4,361 cases of coronavirus, including 86 deaths says the BBC.
The doctors are among 1,200 healthcare workers sent to battle COVID-19 in 22 countries that have requested help from the communist state but largely to vulnerable African and Caribbean nations, but also to European countries like Italy.
Cuba, with 1,337 recorded cases of Covid-19 and 51 deaths, has the world’s highest ratio of doctors to population and began preparations for the novel virus early.
According to the Reuters news agency, it is renowned for its focus on prevention and community-orientated primary health care to fight epidemics.
According to the BBC, the Cuban doctors – arriving in Johannesburg are to be deployed to different provinces by South Africa’s Department of Health, Cuba’s ambassador Rodolfo Benítez Verson has said.
The two countries have close ties as Cuba was instrumental in the fight against white-minority rule in South Africa, which did not end until 1994 when anti-apartheid leader Nelson Mandela was elected president.
Health Minister Zweli Mkhize previously remarked that Cuba’s community health model is similar to South Africa’s.
More than 1.5 million people will be allowed to return to work, some schools will reopen, deliveries of hot food will be permitted and cigarettes will be back on sale as South Africa is to begin easing strict lockdown restrictions next month but the sale of alcohol and public gatherings will still be banned.
In South Africa, thousands of community health workers have been screening millions of people for coronavirus.
Professor Salim Abdool Karimwe, who is leading South Africa’s scientific response to outbreak, says they have been targeting “the most socially vulnerable communities, where this likely was most likely to spread”.
President Cyril Ramaphosa has warned of overconfidence as lockdown measures ease, saying infections are likely to reach their peak in August.