Health Department facing a backlog in COVID-19 tests

The health department says the backlog in COVID-19 tests is due to a global shortage of test kits. Minister Zweli Mkhize has confirmed nearly 100,000 samples have not been processed. Courtesy #DStv403

JOHANNESBURG - The Health Department says the backlog in COVID-19 tests is due to a global shortage of test kits.

Minister Zweli Mkhize has confirmed nearly 100,000 samples have not been processed.

The country has so far recorded over 29,000 COVID-19 cases.

In a few days, more people will be returning to work and some children will go back to school. 

READ: Western Cape COVID-19 testing crisis

Professor Wanda Markotter, director of University of Pretoria's Centre for Viral Zoonoses says the ability to conduct rapid testing has never been more important. 

“We want to know who is positive quickly so we can isolate that person but also do contact tracing of who that specific person came into contact with. That is also very important because we may miss cases that the person came into contact with, leading to an increase of cases in a specific environment.”

The health department says the number of unprocessed specimens sits at about 96,000.

Priority is being given to testing samples from hospitalised patients and healthcare workers. V

The professor is aware of several interventions to try address the backlog. 

READ: Unpacking SA's COVID-19 numbers with the NICD

“We are looking at several options in South Africa ad accrediting other methods also to try and look at this backlog. We also don’t just have one platform that we are using. We have more than one platform so what happens is that when we have a supply issue with one of the platforms we can switch to one of the others. So we really are addressing that and trying to look at several options to do testing and not have this backlog and have an issue with supply,” said Markotter.

The National Health Laboratory Services says it has placed orders to try meet its testing capacity of 36,000 tests a day. 

Despite ongoing negotiations with suppliers - they’re only receiving limited quantities of the supplies. 

Only about 20,000 tests are being conducted a day.

- Coronavirus Hotline Number: 0800 029 999 from 8am to 4pm, Monday to Friday

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The NICD has another Clinician Hotline to improve #COVID19 communication and support for healthcare providers. The Clinician Hotline is 0800 11 1131, operating 24 hrs. The Public Hotline is 0800 029 999 also operating 24hrs.

Source
eNCA

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