Government intensifies Covid-19 testing in densely populated areas

Alexandra residents were for Covid-19. Gauteng health MEC Bandile Masuku said indicators of high vulnerability included poverty, HIV/Aids and tuberculosis in high density areas such as informal settlements.
Alexandra residents were for Covid-19. Gauteng health MEC Bandile Masuku said indicators of high vulnerability included poverty, HIV/Aids and tuberculosis in high density areas such as informal settlements.
Image: Thulani Mbele

Densely populated areas which are affected by Covid-19 and have a high prevalence rate of HIV/Aids and tuberculosis are being prioritised in government's latest drive of in-home mass testing for coronavirus.

Gauteng health MEC Bandile Masuku told Sowetan that some of their teams in mobile testing vehicles were already doing tests in parts of Soshanguve yesterday.

"We are trying to get to those who are at high risk and looking into those areas where we have high densities, contacts and those who are affected because those would be the ones to be highly at risk so that's why we are going to identify areas of high vulnerability," said Masuku.

He said indicators of high vulnerability included poverty, HIV/Aids and tuberculosis in highly density areas such as informal settlements. Gauteng has been the epicentre of the coronavirus outbreak in SA, recording more than half of all infections in the country.

"How we aim to do it is to just to get to that area then identify the number of contacts and the number of people who are affected and then we cover the area," Masuku said.

He added: "We had already started in Alex, and today the team is partly in Soshanguve but we started in Stjwetla (section in Alexandra) following the contacts of the guy who was arrested in Limpopo."

Masuku said they were looking at reducing the turnaround between testing and getting the results from the current 72 hours to under a day.

"Currently we are working on reducing it to around 24 hours but with the testing trucks, the equipment that they carry we are going to reduce to a very lesser time almost to 30 tp 45 minutes."

Masuku said the teams will be comprised of between three and five people including mainly a professional nurse who would be conducting the tests through a swab and an environmental health specialist and community health care worker.

He said the community health care workers have been given training on covid-19 while the department was still on a huge recruitment drives for more health professionals.

"The recruitment process is still on going as we are still training a whole lot of tracers, and we still require a lot of volunteers particularly professionals who are retired or at home to come in because the only to succeed is if we are able to track and trace all affected people," Masuku said.

About 67 mobile clinics are already on the road mainly in various townships in Gauteng, and in areas such as Khayelitsha in Western Cape and parts of Free State where there have been confirmed cases.

The mobile clinics have been built to operate as laboratories are expected to increase the capacity of the tests being done from 5,000 to 30,000 in 24 hours, health minister Zweli Mkhize said.

Would you like to comment on this article or view other readers' comments? Register (it’s quick and free) or sign in now.

Speech Bubbles

Please read our Comment Policy before commenting.