The Embassy of Portugal has donated 25 laptops and 2 000 masks to support the phased-in reopening of schools during the COVID-19 pandemic.
"The COVID-19 essentials donation and ICT devices come from the people of Portugal. We warmly accept this act of solidarity amid the devastation caused by the COVID-19 global pandemic.
"This occasion today indeed reaffirms the importance of our bilateral relations, informed by the Memorandum of Consultations, signed in 2002," said Basic Education Minister Angie Motshekga during the handover on Monday.
Motshekga said the donation comes at a time when the sector is tasked with ensuring that every school child has sufficient personal protective equipment (PPE), such as masks, to keep the virus at bay.
"These are key in promoting the COVID-19 pandemic compliance and protecting lives, while allowing schooling to continue. As we know, PPEs are a key arsenal in an all-out war against the pandemic.
"This donation of masks will go a long way to help to meet the moving target of providing PPE to learners," she said.
Despite the news that South Africa has reached the COVID-19 pandemic peak, Motshekga said the country remains at risk.
"The virus isn't on level two or planning to go on level one. It is significant to note that our measures have yielded positive results, as we have enough hospital bed capacity, ventilators and oxygen tanks for the foreseeable long period of the pandemic."
South Africa has a case facility rate of 2.1% - lower than the global rate, while Egypt has a 5.4% case fatality rate, higher than the global average of 3.5%.
"Our mammoth task now is the mobilisation of society for the behavioural change needed as we ramp up non-pharmaceutical interventions as a new way to coexist with the virus.
"Yet, we remain steadfast in our belief that there is a need to balance saving lives versus livelihoods. We remain committed to our moral and constitutional obligation to save lives, first and foremost," said Motshekga.
Portugal was hailed for its early and effective response to COVID-19, as it managed to avoid a devastating peak like the one seen in neighbouring Spain. It is now dealing firmly with the remnants of the virus through various measures.
"I would like to reiterate my sincere gratitude to the people and the government of Portugal for their generous support to the phased-in reopening of schools in our country.
"These are challenging times, of fighting an invisible enemy that seeks to decimate lives and livelihoods. Thankfully, our response, together with the international community, has been marked by solidarity and cooperation," said the Minister.