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South African Communist Party demands private sector turns over facilities in war on coronavirus

THE South African Communist Party urged the government to take “decisive control” of healthcare today — including private hospitals — to tackle the coronavirus pandemic.

General secretary Blade Nzimande told privateers to put human life above profits and participate in the national effort needed to “win the war” against Covid-19.

South African President Cyril Ramaphosa has ordered a 21-day lockdown starting at midnight tomorrow. He said that the measures were necessary to “avoid a human catastrophe” and instructed the army to enforce the restrictions.

Confirmed coronavirus cases have jumped to 400 in South Africa — a figure that is bound to rise.

Mr Nzimande called on the private sector to make available its facilities, test suspected cases and treat those affected by the virus.

“The private-hospital sector has over 40,000 beds, a number of which are critical and intensive-care-unit beds.

“These facilities, in this time of war against the deadly disease, cannot be reserved for the paying patients but should be available to all people who are affected and need treatment for Covid-19.

“Private healthcare providers must provide Covid-19 healthcare without demanding payment,” he said.

Last year a hotly debated bill was passed to introduce national health insurance (NHI), meaning that healthcare will be available to all regardless of their ability to pay.

Mr Nzimade insisted that “the state of national disaster caused by the global public-health emergency and spread of Covid-19 calls for implementation of the key NHI principles right now.” 

“South Africa is going to face a situation of limited public healthcare capacity if the Covid-19 cases continue to rise. We should not wait until that happens.

“All facilities and actions needed to contain and stop the spread of the pandemic should respectively be publicly available and implemented right now rather than belatedly when the situation is out of control,” he said.

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