COVID-19 cost

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Here’s what SA has spent on PPE, quarantine sites, and Cuban doctors

If you’re wondering how much the COVID-19 pandemic is costing South Africa, the Defence Ministry has published its latest financial figures here.

COVID-19 cost

Photo: Pixabay

In truth, the battle against COVID-19 won’t just be something we face in 2020. It will take years for an economic recovery to take shape, and a vaccine remains out of reach for the time being. But figures from the Department of Defence (DOD) highlight how much the response to the pandemic has cost so far.

Stick it on the bill

Operation Notlela‘ was established to give SANDF and its senior structures a clear path to tackle the scourge of coronavirus. They were given billions by the Treasury to formulate a response, with responsibilities ranging from the procurement of PPE to the deployment of soldiers on the street. According to a presentation to the Portfolio Committee on Defence, more than R4.5 billion has been spent by the ministry so far:

“The Department of Defence (DOD) submitted an estimate of R4.59 billion as a requirement for COVID-19 ‘Operation Notlela’. The DOD declared an amount of R1.136 billion as a reprioritization from within the existing allocation, on instruction from the National Treasury to all national departments.”

Defence Minsitry’s presentation to the Portfolio Committee

What the COVID-19 pandemic has cost South Africa

Surprisingly, expenses such as ambulance procurement and the fees for our contingent of Cuban doctors fell under the Defence Ministry’s remit. Items such as PPE, body scanners and disinfectant tunnels ran-up costs into the tens of millions. Some of the more eye-catching costs include:

  • The mission to repatriate citizens from China cost over R28 million.
  • The cost to put more than 75 000 soldiers on the street during lockdown totals R955 million.
  • SA has spent R1.2 billion on PPE, 864 million on quarantine clinics, and R249 million on four field hospitals.
  • The cost of accommodating and transporting the Cuban doctors reached R30 million – that’s more than what was spent on developing laboratories for further COVID-19 research.
Photo: Defence Portfolio Committee Presentation
  • This list focuses solely on the price of equipment and strategies used to fight COVID-19. It does not take into account financial factors, such as the loss of tax revenue or impact on businesses.