Concern at Covid-19 test result delays, notably in Joburg hotspot

Covid-19 test results for Johannesburg's Ward 58, one of the worst hit in the city, have been outstanding for more than 10 days, the DA says.
Covid-19 test results for Johannesburg's Ward 58, one of the worst hit in the city, have been outstanding for more than 10 days, the DA says.
Image: REUTERS/Siphiwe Sibeko

Covid-19 test results for Johannesburg's Ward 58, one of the worst hit in the city, have been outstanding for more than 10 days.

The DA made this claim on Monday and said its ward councillor, Alex Christians, was one of many people who has been awaiting his test results.

“This ward is near the inner city and includes Mayfair, Fordsburg, Homestead Park and Vrededorp. Testing sites for this hotspot were put up on June 4 and 5, but many people have not yet received their results, including DA ward councillor Alex Christians,” DA Gauteng health spokesperson Jack Bloom said.

According to Christians, health inspectors wishing to trace contacts are frustrated, as they have been told that testing specimens were not marked and they cannot pick up the people they are asking about.

“Another example of slow results was experienced by DA Ekurhuleni councillor Khetha Shandu, who was tested at a mobile testing station in Tembisa on May 22 and only got his result three weeks later on June 13.

“He was fortunately negative, but an undiagnosed infectious person can potentially infect many others,” Bloom said.

Two weeks ago, the National Institute for Communicable Diseases (NICD) said there had been a backlog in the testing of samples for Covid-19 by public laboratories.

The NICD said the number of days it takes for the collection of a sample and reporting of results in the public sector increased from 2.5 days to eight days, from the week beginning April 20 to the week beginning May 21, as a result of laboratory testing backlogs.

This while the turnaround times in the private sector remained about two days.

The Gauteng health department was not immediately available for comment.

Bloom said Gauteng's strategy of mass Covid-19 community testing needed to change urgently, in view of the continuing slow turnaround times and the backlog of 23,000 tests in the province.

“Medical experts have been calling for a better use of limited testing capacity to give priority to vulnerable health workers and hospital patients.”

Bloom said mass community testing made no sense when results could take as long as three weeks.


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.