US consul general discusses COVID-19 response with Eastern Cape Premier

The United States has been supporting community healthcare workers in the Eastern Cape conducting COVID-19 screening through the existing US President’s Emergency Plan for Aids Relief (Pepfar).

US consul general Virginia Blaser

The US consul general Virginia Blaser had an online meeting with Eastern Cape Premier Oscar Mabuyane on Tuesday to discuss the ongoing response to COVID-19 in the province.

In remarks at the end of the meeting Blaser said: “Or governments have been working hand-in-hand for nearly two decades to improve the health of the people of the Eastern Cape.  In fact, the work that we’ve done together on HIV/Aids testing, treatment, and care through Pepfar has built a platform of deep cooperation that has allowed us to rapidly deploy resources here in the Eastern Cape to fight COVID.

“Through our existing Pepfar structures, the US government has supported over 250 community healthcare workers in the Eastern Cape in conducting COVID-19 screening while also continuing their HIV-related activities,” she said.

“In addition, one of our partners has reassigned 22 of their teams of US government-funded nurses, counsellors, and staff from clinics to community outreach efforts to help in the fight.”

The US consulate is planning to roll out e-labs to reduce turnaround times for COVID-19, HIV, and TB tests, provide data management support for hospitals, and help community health clinics prepare facilities to reduce the risk of COVID-19 transmission.

“We have deployed epidemiologists from the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to the Eastern Cape since late March to help your provincial department of health with the COVID response,” Blaser told the premier.

“Finally, the US has committed to donate up to 1,000 ventilators to South Africa, and we are working now to respond the needs of individual provinces to ensure that these life-saving devices are deployed where they need to be, when they need to be there,” she said.


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