Hospital patients highest priority: Karim

A low-dose steroid treatment seems to be a major breakthrough in the fight against COVID-19. Joining us now is epidemiologist and chairperson of the COVID-19 Ministerial Advisory Committee, Professor Salim Abdool Karim, as we take a look at the global search for a vaccine. #DStv403

JOHANNESBURG - The government is being pressured to change its mass testing strategy.

Medical professionals are concerned the backlog at testing laboratories is putting healthcare workers and emergency patients at risk.

Professor Salim Abdool Karim, chairperson of the COVID-19 Ministerial Advisory Committee, said a change to the strategy has already been implemented to prioritise those most in need.

READ: COVID-19 deaths in SA climbs to 1625

"It is not a problem of community testing strategy. Our problem is we don't have enough tests," Karim said.

"That is not because someone is to blame. There is a global shortage; that is compromising our ability to do all the testing we would like to do."

Karim explained that community testing has been deemed "low priority" and people flagged during screening programmes are now quarantined.

READ: COVID-19: Steroid drug shown to save lives of severest cases

He said the focus on hospital patients is the highest priority.

A low-dose steroid treatment seems to be producing promising results for hospitalised COVID-19 patients.

Dexamethasone is part of the world's biggest trial, testing existing treatments for use in patients with the coronavirus.

COVID-19: Over 1 million tests conducted in SA

Researchers say if the drug had been used to treat patients in the UK from the start of the pandemic, up to 5,000 lives could have been saved.

Karim said the drug will only be assessed in South Africa on a case-by-case bases.

"We think there is good enough evidence that doctors can put patients on this drug. But there are concerns that it is not appropriate for all patients," he said.

"The drug should not be abused."

- 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.


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