Four people in the military have tested positive for the coronavirus, the surgeon-general of the SA National Defence Force (SANDF) said on Wednesday.

The SANDF said those who have tested positive are not soldiers deployed to help in the coronavirus lockdown operations, but had links to the defence force.

“None are uniformed members nor members deployed in support of the SA Police Service. It is imperative to note that the military community is bigger than the SANDF,” the defence force said in a statement.

“The military community is inclusive of dependents of serving and retired soldiers, and others eligible for care by the SA Military Health Service (SAMHS). All Covid-19 cases are treated and managed as per Covid-19 prescribed protocol.”

Three of the positive cases are in the Western Cape and one in Gauteng.

Gauteng remains the epicentre of the outbreak in the country, with the most recorded infections, followed by the Western Cape.

The four patients will be treated in SANDF  facilities.

“The SANDF has also identified quarantine and isolation facilities for the military community in preparation for the envisaged overflow in military hospitals and sickbays. These facilities are department of defence establishments with accommodation capacity in all provinces,” it said.

The defence force stressed that it is doing all it can to ensure the protection of its members as they embark on their essential-service duties.

“Frontline workers [emergency medical teams, nurses, doctors, porters and soldiers patrolling the townships] have been issued with personal protective equipment. Other preventive measures include thermal screening, hand sanitising and wearing of surgical masks,” the SANDF said, adding that it continues to run Covid-19 awareness campaigns for its members.

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