Millions of masks and respirators arrive in South Africa for healthcare personnel

The first bulk order of PPE- Personal Protective Equipment arrives in South Africa. (Photo: Credit: GCIS/Elmond Jiyane)

Millions of masks and respirators were delivered at OR Tambo International Airport late on Thursday night (23 April). This is the first bulk order after a centralised personal protective equipment partnership, providing both private and public hospitals, was formed in South Africa.

The first bulk order of personal protective equipment ordered was via a new centralised partnership procuring on behalf of all hospitals in the country.

This includes 2 million surgical masks and 216,000 KN95 respirators.

According to Business4SA, the organisation handling the logistics on behalf of the partnership, there are another 784,000 KN95 respirators on their way as well as 550,000 surgical masks which will arrive in the country on Sunday night.  

 KN95 masks are the Chinese equivalent of the American N95 mask.

In the past few weeks, doctors, nurses and healthcare workers have expressed their concerns over the shortages of PPE in South Africa’s hospitals, especially public hospitals. This has led to several protests by nurses and an unsuccessful court application by the labour union Nehawu. Scores of healthcare personnel, especially nurses, have been infected by the virus so far.

Stavros Nicolaou, the chairperson of Business4South Africa’s Health workgroup said it was profoundly important to protect doctors, nurses and healthcare workers as they are the “only true line” of defence against the pandemic.

“As Business4South Africa, we are deeply humbled to be able to serve our country in its time of need. The leadership displayed by our President, and Minister of Health has been exemplary and has galvanised business into action to support our government’s efforts to combat and mitigate the impact of the pandemic,” he added.

The order that arrived on Thursday night is part of a government-led, centralised PPE procurement strategy that serves both the public and private health care sectors. 

This is led by the National Department of Health (NDoH) and the National Treasury’s Office of the Chief Procurement Officer, working in partnership with Business4South Africa (B4SA), which is an alliance of volunteer resources from across SA business bodies, organisations and companies.

“In support of Government’s central procurement strategy, B4SA has developed a national PPE demand and supplier dashboard and is driving the procurement, transport, and logistics of PPE. All stocks that are landing in South Africa, or being collected from local suppliers and donors, are being delivered to the provinces in accordance with the allocations determined by NDoH.”

 The latest numbers available for the combined business, humanitarian and government effort to procure PPE for healthcare workers through the Solidarity Fund, the Motsepe Foundation, FirstRand’s SPIRE Fund and Naspers are: 13.5 million N95 masks; 11.25 million surgical masks for healthcare workers, 19.5 million surgical masks for patients, 900,000 sterile gloves, 20.000 face shields, 100,000 gowns, 354,000 bottles of hand sanitiser (950 ml each) and 200 ventilators. DM/MC



"Information pertaining to Covid-19, vaccines, how to control the spread of the virus and potential treatments is ever-changing. Under the South African Disaster Management Act Regulation 11(5)(c) it is prohibited to publish information through any medium with the intention to deceive people on government measures to address COVID-19. We are therefore disabling the comment section on this article in order to protect both the commenting member and ourselves from potential liability. Should you have additional information that you think we should know, please email [email protected]"

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