Nearly 80% of the surgical masks and 100% of the N95 masks required to meet the weekly demand for healthcare workers ahead of the expected surge in coronavirus cases have been secured, the Solidarity Fund said on Friday.
More than R2 billion in donations received from businesses, foundations and ordinary citizens allowed the fund and Business for South Africa (B4SA) to secure the personal protective equipment (PPE) that took place in an “extraordinarily tough environment, with almost every country in the world seeking to procure limited stocks from a few suppliers”, it said in a statement.
“The national lockdown was always intended to flatten the curve and to buy time for South Africa to better prepare our health services for increased numbers of Covid-19 cases.
“Our teams of volunteers have been hard at work using this time to secure personal protective equipment for healthcare workers treating those with the virus as well as containing its spread,” the fund’s CEO, Nomkhita Nqweni, said on Friday.
Thus far, R2.6 billion have been pledged to the fund – established by President Cyril Ramaphosa to support the national health response, contribute to humanitarian relief efforts and mobilise South Africans to drive a united response to the coronavirus outbreak in South Africa – of which R2 billion has already been received.
According to the fund, 400,000 Covid-19 testing kits worth R250 million have also been approved for the National Health Laboratory Service (NHLS) for increased testing as the lockdown eases on a risk-adjusted basis.
Funding of R11.3 million has also been approved to manufacture two prototypes of locally developed CPAP ventilators.
Led by the Department of Trade and Industry and managed by the South African Radio Astronomy Observatory (SARAO), the project aims to manufacture 10,000 of these ventilators by July, coinciding with the expected peak in coronavirus infections.
“This is in addition to 200 ventilators which have been ordered at a cost of R19.5 million to bolster the national system’s capacity to treat patients with the disease,” the statement read.
“The Solidarity Fund has also funded significant food relief intervention, with more than 137,800 food parcels delivered to distressed families across the country as of 5 May, despite safety and security issues slowing deliveries to communities and food supply disruptions causing additional delays.
“The fund expects to meet its 250,000-delivery target by the middle of May.”