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Blackouts in South Africa put pressure on healthcare

A healthcare worker helps as a COVID-19 patient arrives by ambulance at the Brackengate Hospital of Hope, in Cape Town, South Africa, Wednesday, July 7, 2021.   -  
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Nardus Engelbrecht/Copyright 2021 The AP. All rights reserved.

South Africa

On a race against the clock in order to save lives. The challenge for South African paramedics is getting harder as worsening power blackouts in the nation further strains the country's health sector.

"We got called to a hospital where the generators stopped working and then it was 18 paramedics and nine ICU ventilator patients. And so it was two paramedics per patient and then nine of us, we had to ventilate them manually for four hours, until their generators were fixed," Nicole Morrison, a paramedic said.

Jeanette Mahlangu is one of the vulnerable persons hurt by government-enforced loadshedding. The Soweto resident has been forced to go without the oxygen concentrator helping her breathe. 

Meanwhile her backup tank is empty, the 8 to 10 hours with no power have made it too expensive to refill. Her daughter feels distressed.

"When I look at my mum, she’s quiet and expecting this, I can’t say anything. But myself, I’m scared. Me, I’m scared like, I don’t like this."

If Janette was in need of an ambulance during the blackout, there would be no way to call one, due to limited battery and no phone service.

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