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Corona crisis

Development Ministry and Volkswagen provide 4,000 additional hospital beds in South Africa


View of Port Elizabeth, South Africa

Press release of 07.05.2020 |

BERLIN – The Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development is supporting efforts to convert a Volkswagen production plant in South Africa into a medical facility for treating COVID-19 patients. The facility in Port Elizabeth is to accommodate up to 4,000 patients, including patients who require supplementary oxygen. This will support the measures taken by the South African government in response to the coronavirus.

German Development Minister Gerd Müller comments, "we will either beat coronavirus worldwide together or not at all. The pandemic is becoming a global health, food and economic crisis. We need to prevent a situation in which hospitals break down first and then entire countries. That is why we are supporting initiatives such as the one undertaken by Volkswagen South Africa. Together we are turning a currently unused factory into a facility for COVID-19 patients. We are thus providing an additional 4,000 hospital beds and 800 ventilators. This engagement is part of our Emergency COVID-19 Support Programme to help expand health infrastructures in developing countries, secure jobs, ensure food security and stabilise crisis regions and refugee camps, in particular in the Sahel region and the arc of crisis surrounding Syria."

The BMZ is making 5.2 million euros available for the conversion of the factory and in assistance to hospitals in the region. The plant will be made available to the South African authorities until March 2021. Part of the funding will be used to supply hospitals and medical facilities in the Nelson Mandela Bay Region with protective gear.

Thomas Schaefer, Volkswagen Group South Africa comments "solidarity is crucial in a crisis - and COVID-19 is an unprecedented global threat. Through collaboration we will be able to achieve the position of strength we will need to fight the Covid-19 virus. VWSA has devoted its time to finding innovative ways in which we can combat the scourge of Covid-19 and care for those who are infected. We are highly appreciative of the financial support from the BMZ."

The spread of the coronavirus on the African continent is several weeks behind Europe. To date, South Africa has recorded roughly 7,500 coronavirus infections and 150 deaths. The country is one of the most affected countries in Africa.

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