South African President Cyril Ramaphosa has called on citizens “pulling out all the stops” in the “long war” against the coronavirus as the country edged closer to the 1,000 death mark following a record daily toll jump of 60 deaths on Friday.

South Africa recorded a death toll of 908 with 43,434 positive cases of the Covid-19 coronavirus, the highest infection in the continent.

In Africa, Egypt has recorded more than 1,000 deaths and the toll stood at 1,166 last week.

President Ramaphosa visited the Western Cape province which is the country’s epicentre with 28,807 positive cases and 704 casualties and called for an “all hands on deck” approach in the battle to save lives.

With the province accounting for 77 percent of the country’s deaths, it will be allocated R3 billion ($177 million) of the R20 billion set aside to finance healthcare response to the pandemic.

A field hospital has since been set up at the Cape Town International Convention Centre and is expected to admit its first patients on Monday.

Almost 2,000 of Western Cape’s healthcare workers contracted the virus with 17 of them losing their lives, as Ramaphosa noted that more staff and beds are needed at the field hospital.

“The staffing challenges must be solved. We’re at war. We’re fighting a life and death war and staffing challenges must be solved,” he said.

“We must headhunt and find all those staff members that we need to bring in and the cost is not an issue here, but saving lives is the issue. We have to find the [health workers] and money is not going to be an issue. We must pull out all the stops to save lives.

“The beds must be increased. It’s better to over-provide, rather than to under-provide because the worst is still to come. Because we’re at war, we should never be found wanting.

“We will all keep our hands on deck… This is a long war. It will probably take us a year and a half, probably two, dealing with Covid-19. We mustn’t lose the stamina.”

As South Africa continues to grapple with rising coronavirus infections and deaths, it has eased lockdown measures and opened various sectors of the economy.

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