US to help SA in battle against Covid-19

By Peter Fabricius 17 March 2020

Us Ambassador to South Africa Lana Marks confirmed that the US was ready to divert some of its existing support to South Africa for fighting HIV/AIDS to fighting the coronavirus. (Photo: Alon Skuy)

Despite the ban on Americans entering South Africa because of the novel coronavirus, the US will assist SA in fighting Covid-19.

The US government is supporting the SA government’s efforts to curb Covid-19 and is exploring ways of stepping up that support, US ambassador Lana Marks says.

But she is also looking to Pretoria to provide details of the ban on Americans entering this country, which President Cyril Ramaphosa announced on Sunday. The US was one of eight countries on which he imposed the ban, the others being Italy, Iran, South Korea, Spain, Germany, the UK and China.

The United States and many other countries are imposing carefully considered travel restrictions to try to keep their citizens safe and healthy,” Marks told Daily Maverick.

“South Africa is doing the same.  We are studying these and other provisions announced by President Ramaphosa on March 15, and we look to the government of South Africa to provide the necessary details to ensure compliance.

“The US-SA relationship is long-standing and strong, and we are pleased to count on South Africa as a partner in the campaign to stop the spread of Covid-19.”

Marks confirmed continued support to South Africa for fighting HIV/AIDS and for fighting the coronavirus, in response to the request from Health Minister Zweli Mkhize which he announced on Monday.

“The US President’s Emergency Plan For AIDS Relief (Pepfar) is closely following the risk posed by Covid-19 to the South African public and commends President Ramaphosa and the South African government for their response efforts to date,” Marks said.

“Pepfar continues to have a collaborative and supportive relationship with the National Department of Health (NDoH) and National Institute of Communicable Diseases (NICD).

“Our Pepfar team is currently exploring how best Pepfar can mobilise and support the department in their efforts to control and mitigate Covid-19 locally, particularly through continuing to ensure people living with HIV know their status and are on life-saving and immune-improving antiretroviral therapy.

“Meanwhile, the US government will continue to strongly support the South African government’s Covid-19 response by providing technical assistance through the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and US Agency for International Development, as well as our recent commitment of approximately R8-million for risk communications and community engagement.” DM


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